My six-year-old is a strict vegan. He embraces an attitude of kindness towards all living creatures. And he’s not afraid proclaim with pride, “We don’t eat animals,” or “I’m a vegan.”
He’s even decided to become a veterinarian when he grows up, so he can take care of animals. (To be honest, he’s also considering about 10 other occupations, including becoming “The President.”)
Someday, he might abandon his childhood aspirations or even waver in his commitment to veganism. No matter what his future holds, his present is being shaped by a child’s pure thinking.
I remember an incident from when I was his age. The neighborhood boys were capturing and killing frogs from their backyard pond. I felt angry that they were hurting innocent creatures, but curious and excited at the challenge of trying to catch them.
I don’t recall killing any of them. But the emotions I experienced the first time I played by the “frog pond” were overwhelming. The mix of anger and shame remains with me to this day.
I now recognize that my repulsion toward killing an animal was completely natural. Back then, however, I didn’t connect the hamburgers or hot dogs on my plate and the living, breathing beings whose lives they represented.
Sadly, too many in our society don’t connect the cute pigs, cows or chickens they see in pictures with the terrible abuse they suffer at the factory farms and slaughterhouses. All in the name of putting meat on our dinner plates.
While in Alaska, I read about the native tribes’ ritual of returning the bones of the animals they ate to the Earth. They did it with the understanding that the Earth would grow food for animals and the circle of life would continue.
These native Alaskans knew that a fish or moose sacrificed its life for their survival. And they tried to honor that life with a ceremony.
To most of us living in 2020 America, such ceremonies and rituals might seem silly. After all, we buy our meat while sitting in cars at drive-thru windows, or have it delivered to our doorsteps, ready to eat.
But I think we might be the ignorant ones!
Because the native Alaskan tribes lacked our modern conveniences, they understood Nature in a way we don’t. All of our ancestors who lived before the age of slaughterhouses, in fact, probably had a far greater grasp of the high price of an animal dying for their sustenance.
Perhaps more of the meat-eaters among us should remember their early childhood aversion to killing animals. Whether we pull the trigger ourselves, or have someone in a factory farm do it, a helpless animal has died to provide our fast-food meals.
I personally choose to honor and respect a six-year-old’s kindhearted view!