Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Horse Soccer and Slaughterhouses

My poor, poor readers. I fear I have abandoned you due to craziness of a new school year! My apologies, love, and undying devotion :-)

What's new in Vegan Land? Not much! Which is really saying something, as veganism tends to feel a demanding and dominating portion of parenting at times.

We recently went on vacation with my omni  aunt, uncle and veggie cousin. They love us and are very accepting (notice I didn't use the word 'understanding') of the vegan thing, but they don't really get it. My aunt firmly feels that it's okay to eat animals and my uncle is an avid fisherman. So, I often have to remember that acceptance and tolerance is a two-way street.

Anyways, so we're up in the mountains and my aunt has been keeping a secret surprise for us - we're going to the ranch to  watch horses playing soccer and give hay rides!

Oh, shit. My guess is that she was thinking "oh, they'll love this since they love animals so much!" Super sweet thought, and I so much appreciate the sentiment, but, umm..... no. But what's one to do? They are always so accommodating and thoughtful towards us and our lifestyle choices, and I just couldn't bring myself to turn her down. And I thought about what kind of statement it would make. Would it matter at all if I didn't attend? Besides a protest against my family, would our protest be so silent it wouldn't even matter to the animals? The answer was simple; no one would care and I would hurt others feelings.  Should I have declined? Debatable, but honestly, the guilt I feel over participating is worth the guilt I would have felt over telling my family, yet again, that they got it wrong.

So we went, and had fun. There were games and watermelon eating contests and a fun country community atmosphere. When it came time to ride the wagons, I politely declined. Since we were already there, I decided the most I could do was to help my kids - and others - realize that this was a living, breathing, feeling being. As we were waiting around, I asked if the same horse had been used all morning.... he had. The kids and I asked if we could feel him carrots and water (he was tethered and had no water!!) and the staff welcomed it. I pointed out how uncomfortable he looked with the bit in his mouth. My son decided not to ride, but my daughter did.... and liked it. She's 8, so I'm not surprised (though was a little sad). We then watched the horses play soccer (with riders on). This was hard for me, and really, I hated it. I hated that I wanted to yell at my kids and they were laughing and smiling and cheering on their favorites. I hated that I couldn't breath, waiting for one of the horses to trip over the ball. I hated watching the horses try to stay clear of the giant ball while their riders pulled and urges them towards it. I hated that the animals were being used for entertainment, and that I was allowing my kids to enjoy it.

But I guess that is okay. I think it's important that they see these things, to understand why I don;t agree with t\hem. It's vital they develop their own thoughts, opinions, and ideas around animal and human interactions. Like any other parent, I will pass down my values to them, but in the end, it is their choice.

Later, when we were driving home, I pointed out the things that made me concerned for the animals safety. I pointed out that the animals didn't seem very happy. Any my beautifully strong willed eight year old disagreed - she doesn't think the horses would play if they didn't want to and she thought they did look pretty happy.

Does this mean there are burgers in her future? Sigh... only after our field trip to the slaughter house!


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