The shelter kitten who changed my life
I am an engineering professional in my late 20s. I had a pretty ordinary childhood, except during my childhood I was never allowed to have pets. Not because we particularly disliked animals, but because my parents were too busy. Both my parents worked full-time. My mother barely had any maternity leave when she had me and my sister. So I grew up being quite indifferent to animals, even scared of little kittens and puppies.
It wasn’t until my 21st birthday that I ever had a pet. On my 21st birthday my then boyfriend convinced me to adopt a kitten named Winkle from the RSPCA shelter. Winkle changed my life.
Winkle made me realise that animals have personalities; they feel joy, sadness and pain just like humans. And so my transformation began.
Following Winkle, I welcomed Billy, Meg, Lily and Speckles into my life. I have also watched hundreds of foster animals come and go. I called myself an animal lover.
But I felt something was not right. So I started questioning what was so different between the animals we love, like cats and dogs, and the animals we eat, like chickens, cows, pigs, and goats. The answer was nothing.
Subsequently I changed my lifestyle. I stopped consuming and using animals. I felt liberated to finally call myself an animal lover. My actions finally aligned with my values.
I have visited various farm sanctuaries. I have met Heather – a sow rescued from a piggery, Coco – a rooster rescued from a broiler farm, and Mary – a dairy cow who has had her babies taken from her for the majority of her life. My interactions with Heather, Coco, Mary and many of their other friends only confirmed that humans and animals share the same capacity to suffer and enjoy life.
The more I learned about the animal agriculture industry, the more I believed that I have done the right thing by eliminating the consumption and usage of animals. For example, I learnt that male piglets are castrated without anaesthetics and unwanted baby pigs are killed. Apparently this was standard industry practice.
I was heart-broken. I think any person who aspires to being a good, kind and compassionate person would be.
I also read the recently published 82-paged “Life of a Dairy Cow” by Voiceless which reports that the dairy cows are impregnated and their offspring removed within days of birth. The male calves are then killed while their female counterparts are grown to endure the same fate as their mothers.
The way the animals are treated in today’s society affects the way I function my life. This includes my work, what I buy, what I eat and what I do.
Living a life that has no direct contribution to the use and abuse of animals has benefitted not only those animals but also myself. My diet is much healthier now and as a result I am healthier. I am contributing less to adverse environmental impacts by not actively participating in animal agriculture, which causes greenhouse gases, water pollution, deforestation and climate change.
We are privileged to live in a time where there are various non-animal based products available – to eat, wear and use. So if we can thrive without hurting others, why wouldn’t we?
I believe that we should thrive for a world without the use and abuse of other creatures. It will lead to a better future for creatures on earth, including us humans.