I’m sure many you are wondering and thought that I just tried to slide it in quietly …”why, oh, why and when, oh, when did you become a vegan on us, Ashley?” because yes, I made this decision slowly and over much time; in fact I’m still facing decisions everyday. This past April/early May (2011) I decided that my decision to become a vegetarian only half a year prior just wasn’t enough: as I’m sure you noticed through several of my posts.
I”m know some of my closest family members and friends will remember that my childhood dream was to become a veterinarian. I wanted nothing more. As a child, I absolutely LOVED animals. In fact I loved them so much that placed a frog on my face (just because I thought he was adorable), only to allow him to pee on my eye just seconds later, disgusting, I know. Burning and screaming ended that experiment.
I can remember walking underneath the girth/underline of my horse, Tess, just because I trusted her to not stomp my entire tiny seven-year old body. No, my parents weren’t watching and yes, they thought I was feeding my 1,000 pound, 15 hand horse and not playing trust games with her because easily I could have handled every pound. Ha, so wise at seven years old.
I kept a baby cradle (in fact, I think it was MY baby cradle) in my room for my Jack Russel, Bea, to sleep in because I felt that it was just too cold for her outside (in Georgia, in months such as April). I dressed her in MY best baby clothes to keep her warm when she HAD to go outside and in case you were wondering, no, my mom didn’t know this. When the clothes went missing, I simply asked for forgiveness rather than permission. “I thought she would come right back!” I’m sorry, mom, that those clothes are gone, but boy, did they keep Bea warm for a mere ten minutes outside.
Another story I can recall is from the fifth grade. My brother was playing youth football and I guess it seemed to be known that I loved animals. One night during a practice, one of his teammates (why he wasn’t practicing, I don’t know) ran up to me yelling, “Look, Ashley! I found a bullfrog!” He knew that this would excite me more than anything and that I would be so interested in just looking at it, watching it hop through the parking lot as my brother perfected his quarterback throw. And it did. He was so cute. That was until the boy took his cleat and squashed the large frog’s entire body flat on the pavement right in front of my eyes. That’s what he wanted to show me? Impressive, right? I cried immediately. What little girl wouldn’t? Tears ran down my face for that little frog. His life was cut short because of a selfish little boy’s immaturity. How unfair.
As I grew older, a cleanliness obsession emerged into my life. I grew apart from animals simply because I felt as if they were dirty. I can even remember thinking that if I even touched or pet an animal their scent would immediately rub off on me. That meant if I was already ready for the day, no animal would touch my body. As a child, it would have been unusual to see me walking around not holding some sort of pet, yet as a high school or college student to see me touch or pet even a dog would have been unfamiliar. I don’t remember the exact day that it happened and it wasn’t that I hated animals, it was just that I felt that they were unclean, something that I couldn’t stand being. OCD? Maybe.
Just weeks after Dustin and I were married, he informed me that we were getting a dog. “Umm, a dog? No, I don’t think so. I’m not an animal person.”
Me? Not an animal person? Where did Ashley go? Where did my entire childhood go?
Well, just a few months later (after HIM searching for hours and hours a day, literally) Dustin found… “THE PERFECT DOG, ASHLEY!!!! WE HAVE TO GET HIM!!!”
First, let me see this guy.
Dang it, he was cute too. Not fair. Fine. He’s ours. I didn’t really think about the fact (and Dustin certainly didn’t remind me) that this cute, eight pound puppy would soon turn into a sixty-five pound LARGE dog.
During those days, life was much different. Dustin spent his days at the field, rehabing his shoulder, while I spent time as a recent, lost graduate with Boss, the new Boxer, running, walking, working out, sun bathing, and well, that’s pretty much it. Boss and I had it made, together. Although he couldn’t talk, he was my support system. He was there for me through our first year of marriage and through the days and months that I was completely separated from my family and friends. If no one else, Boss was there. He was our friend.
It was during those times that I remembered just why I loved animals so much as a child. They are beautiful creatures only asking for the bare minimum: food, love, and safety. What’s not to like? If it wasn’t for Dustin almost forcing (but lovingly ) a dog upon me, I don’t know if that place in my heart would have ever come back. Now with our latest addition, Gunner, it’s entirely impossible to say that my life isn’t nearly run by two ever-loving, ever-joyful, ever-gracious animals, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So what in the world does the have to do with being vegan? To me, and everyone has their different opinions, animals are animals; who decided that FOR ME a cow would be for food and a dog would be a pet? Because in some countries a cow is sacred while a dog is dinner.
I ate meat for the first twenty years of my life because I didn’t know better. I didn’t know why I ate it. I had no idea. I just ate it because it was served to me at every meal, EVERYWHERE I WENT. It was the norm and is the norm in this country.
Most of you know that I am an extremely tender-hearted person (aka my feelings or rather my heart is hurt by the simplest things; also, not necessarily a good thing): when I see pain in someone else, I feel it, physically. So many of my thoughts are “But why? Why did that HAVE to happen?’ And that has much to do with my vegan decision.
My decision to go vegetarian was completely based on health reasons, and now I am proud to admit that my decision to go vegan was based completely on compassion: compassion for the animal species as a whole, each and every one of them. No, I do not believe that a vegan diet is healthy for EVERYONE, and just as I said, health wasn’t my reason, but if we could all at least be a little more aware, not only would we be a healthier nation but a more compassionate, understanding one as well.
And there ya go my friends, my reasons for going vegan!
Good health and happy weekend!