Saturday, May 16, 2009

Am I marginalizing myself?

Sometimes I ask myself how I could make my life easier.

For one, I could own a Golden Retriever.

For two, I could eat meat, drink milk, eat eggs and wear leather and wool like it's going out of style.

Instead, I have a pit bull and I'm vegan.

There are places in this country and in the world where I cannot live because of how my dog looks, some places would confiscate and kill her for just passing through. I could be fined for having a pit bull in some areas - fined, people, for having a non-aggressive, friendly dog. Finding an apartment or home is hard enough with a 30-lb dog, let alone two 40-lb dogs, one of whom is a pit bull. Few renters and homeowners insurance companies will insure me. Some people choose to cross a busy street and avoid my placid-looking pit bull rather than walk by her. Even my parents were shocked the first time I brought my pit bull home and said, "I'm keeping her." I've had folks tell me my dog should be dead. I have to plan out road trips very carefully, lest I drive through a place with a breed ban in place.

And then there's the whole vegan thing. I'm that lady you see in the grocery store, furiously reading bread labels to see if there is milk or eggs in the product. Going to restaurants with omnivore friends is tough - I'm sorry, but I can spend three bucks and make an awesome salad, why would I spend $15 for the same thing? Yes, I want something more substantive, sue me. I am mocked and poked fun of and the general public finds any way possible to condemn veganism, it's too "out there" and not mainstream enough.

So why do I to do it? Why make my life harder? Why not just go with the flow, be a part of the in-crowd, the mainstream?

It's not because I'm a sucker for punishment. The answer is pretty simple, really.

I love my dog, Mina. Like a lot. She is the perfect size (40lbs). She likes me. She likes people. She's a dog I find to be pretty and easy to live with. I didn't pick her because she was a pit bull, I picked her because she needed someone to help her. I picked me (no one else volunteered).

I'm vegan, because, for me, loving animals means not eating them, drinking their breast milk, wearing their skin, or eating their eggs. I can thrive on a plant-based diet, so I do so. Mainly, I'm vegan because of two very personal experiences - one at a slaughterhouse, the other at a dairy facility - that cemented my choice to eat and live as compassionately as possible.

Being a vegan pit bull lover has earned me a tough, thick skin when it comes to the opinions of others. It has also helped me discover what is important to me, what issues I will work harder on. So yes, in a way, I am choosing to marginalize myself. I do it out of a desire to help others, both human and nonhuman.

And, quite frankly, I'm very happy as a pit bull loving vegan. I can't say I'd have it any other way.

1 comment:

susan said...

Hi, I'm not sure if I've left a comment here before or not but I have really enjoyed reading your posts. I love the pit bull/vegan contrast too. My pit bull came to me quite by accident as I was one of those quasi-fearful people who, in my own ignorance, would've never "chosen" her. She chose me. Eight months later, however ridiculous it may sound, I really believe she was a gift from above. One thing I've found about being marginalized is that although it's harder, it's a lot less boring. Luck to you.