Eating animals: A heartfelt letter to loved ones

by Laila El Ayadi

Photo by Juliette F on Unsplash

Christmas is an unsettling time for vegans. Most of us will endure our families consuming the animals we love in front of us and no one wants to make eye contact with us because we’re the weirdos that don’t eat “normal” food.

I recently decided enough was enough for me and confronted some of my non-vegan family members about it.

A heartfelt letter to loved ones about eating animals:

Here’s some honesty for you. The way that you speak to me about the animal flesh that you’re participating in eating really upsets me. There have been a few instances where you’ve presumed that I would be okay with seeing their body parts carved up and eaten. It baffles me that after how much of my life I dedicate to defending these innocent animals you would even consider me tolerating it. I think what hurts the most is knowing that my family who I believe to be good, caring people are supporting such horrifying things happening to animals when it’s completely unnecessary.

You know we can be happy and healthy without eating corpses, me, my family and millions of other vegans are all proof of that, but you still make no effort to cause no harm. It’s clear you’re not sympathetic to the suffering of animals, but you’re putting your health at serious risk too. Animal foods have been proven to be extremely unhealthy, they have high cholesterol, saturated fats and processed red meat is a group 1 carcinogenic which is the same category as cigarettes and asbestos. Heart disease is the number one killer of humans and animal foods are the number one cause of heart disease. Don’t you want to be around to see your children and grandchildren grow up?

The environment is also victim to animal agriculture which is responsible for ocean dead zones, species extinctions, mass land, and forest clearing and the leading cause of global warming. If we continue to support these industries the world will not be safe for the next generation, it’s putting them all at risk. Is it really worth it? When you can eat something else? It’s so easy to stop eating these foods but the fact that I see no change in so many people close to me leads me to believe that they don’t care about the suffering of other beings, their own health or the future of this planet and that really breaks my heart.

I know you don’t see things the way I do but could you at least try? You’ve seen footage of animals being violently slaughtered and how much they suffer, do you not think of that when you buy their body parts? I know many pigs, turkeys, chickens, sheep, and cows personally and they are like us in so many ways. Just because it’s culture, tradition, and convenience to eat them doesn’t mean it’s right. When I see you all eating slices of ham I hear the screams of pigs in my head as they are painfully gassed to death, when you drink milk or eat cheese I see a mother cow grieving for her baby who was taken from her so humans can steal the milk intended for her, when you eat lamb I see the sweet little lamb we fostered having his throat cut open with a knife as he bleeds to death on the floor. When you eat fish or go fishing I know you don’t think they suffer but they do, they feel pain and experience fear like any other animal. We think they don’t because we can’t hear them scream, but we hear the other animals scream and still torture them.

I’m not trying to put blame on you, I blame society and the conditioning we all grow up with. We’re fed lies about animal products being healthy for us and that we need them for nutrients when they aren’t. We can get everything we need from plant foods. These industries are so good at making us believe animals are treated well before they die and that it’s guilt-free. They are so good at it because there’s a lot of money involved. That’s all they care about, not the animals, not our health and not the planet. Money.

I don’t want you to reply, I want you to have a serious think about everything I’ve said. I want you to try and understand why I get upset. Imagine if you were in the position of the animals, would you want me to fight for your suffering to end? Every single day I think of them, how horrible their lives are and how brutally they are killed for no reason other than people like the way they taste. I like the way it tastes too but I can’t justify doing awful things to them for that reason when I can eat vegan food that tastes the same and hurts no one. Next time you ask me if I mind being around dead animals can you consider my feelings, or better yet, consider theirs because they do have feelings, they scream in pain, cry in terror, grieve for their loved ones, enjoy life, have families, show affection and want to live. Just like us.

This isn’t just about me and what I think, it’s about them and it’s a matter of fact. Believe it, don’t believe it, it doesn’t change the truth.

It’s not easy to be confrontational with our loved ones, especially with a subject that can be sensitive and controversial. But we know it’s controversial because it cuts deep, addressing personal values and making them question their foundational belief systems. They get defensive because in their eyes we’re calling them bad people. We get distressed because we’re thinking of the animals and we desperately want their suffering to end.

I’m sure many other activists could agree that debating veganism and animal agriculture with strangers during street activism is a lot easier than reaching out to the people closest to us. We have the conversational skills and strategies to be effective at outreach events, but our loved ones throw a whole world of emotions into the mix which makes it more challenging.

If you have considered reaching out to your family about the disrespect and exclusion you feel at social gatherings, I encourage you to be brave. You may be pleasantly surprised with the response you receive after a conversation like this, I was, and it’s motivated me to be more confident discussing these issues with family.