By Daria Zeoli, Guest Contributor
It is easy to forget the parts of you that you’ve shed. Let me tell you about how I was recently reminded of this.
I’ve been blogging since the fall of 2001, in some form or another. Most of the past fourteen years of posts have made their way into the ether, but thanks to the Wayback Machine, it’s not so hard to find your own past, at least, if you remember your old domain names. And the next logical step is to lecture the teens and twentysomethings of today – “Back in my day, we didn’t have Twitter! We didn’t have Instagram! We coded our own blogs! We wrote more than 140 characters! We walked five miles to school in blizzard conditions without snowboots!”
But I digress.
I’ve been surfing the archives of my life – shaking my head at a lot of silly posts, reacquainting myself with the fact that once, I live blogged episodes of American Idol, and my loyalty to Clay Aiken knew no bounds. (He was robbed in Season Two, I tell you!)
I am telling you this because my Clay loyalty is part of the me I used to be. And so is the person who ate animals. Those two parts came together in a really embarrassing post I wrote twelve years ago, slamming PeTA. Oh, I’m not embarrassed about slamming PeTA: I still don’t agree with a lot of what they do. But I’m truly stunned at a statement that I wrote at the time:
“I would never intentionally hurt an animal – yes I eat meat, shut up.”
It’s not an extraordinary statement. In fact, it’s likely you’ve heard someone say similar to you recently. It’s not even entirely false. Most people who eat or otherwise use animals don’t directly hurt them. It’s part of the reason it’s so easy for the majority of us to be indoctrinated into the system. How many of us would harm or kill an animal ourselves if there was no one to do the “processing” for us?
Even knowing this much, I couldn’t shake that feeling of embarrassment when I read the words that came out of my mouth. Was that really me? Did I say that? It was a moment of omnivore amnesia – of struggling to remember not being vegan.
It’s been a couple of weeks, and I’d venture to say that embarrassment isn’t necessary in moments like this. For many reasons, I didn’t know any better. I say this not to excuse the “me” I used to be, but to understand her better. The vegan world has changed so much in the nearly six years since I became a part of it; double that time and unless you knew where to look, that world didn’t cross with the one I was living in at the time very much.
Even now, it’s important to remember that my experience is different than a non-vegan’s: I am immersed in the vegan media – reading news articles, watching films, listening to podcasts, writing articles and eating food that a majority of people have no idea exists. The “me” I used to be had never heard of Mercy for Animals or Farm Sanctuary. Beyoncé was certainly not touting the benefits of a plant-based diet plan.
Our stories are important – there are lessons to be learned from them and even a passing statement can be a teaching moment. I wish I had blogged or journaled more throughout my life – even if it meant countless passages that would induce headshakes and exasperated sighs. We all come from somewhere, and we all have the opportunity to grow.
The “me” I used to be has grown into someone I couldn’t have imagined when I was twenty-four years old. The “me” I am now has a lot more growing to do.
Photo: Kevin Harber