Wow, it was a cold, miserable day outside today. Working in a snow storm slows everything down immensely. You basically have to concentrate on just getting the basics done and that’s it. As soon as I had broken and removed all of the ice from the water troughs and small animal dishes, it just froze up again. Russ broke the record a few days ago at having to go around and break all the ice five times in one day. That’s literally non-stop breaking and filling up water troughs for 400+ animals. This is extremely hard work, to say the very least.
All that aside, I’ve got a bee in my bonnet today. One of my co-workers happened to mention that he is no longer going to be doing farm tours because over the years there have been complaints from vegan visitors and also vegan donors. Logic suggests that since it’s a farm animal sanctuary that promotes veganism, tour guides should obviously live a vegan lifestyle. It makes superficial sense…if we’re labeling people and putting the entirety of who they are into one purdy little container.
I should mention that my co-worker has been a dedicated employee for eight years and is by far the best tour guide the farm has. Emily and I enjoyed our tour when we first found the place and he made such a good enough impression on me that I remembered him from almost two years ago. He knows all the animals by name, they know him, he knows how each animal came to be at the farm, he’s outgoing, he’s got a booming voice and he’s great with people. More than anything, he enjoys being a tour guide and he’s proud to be an ambassador for the farm. When people ask him about his eating habits on tours, he does the right thing by telling the truth: he doesn’t eat meat but he eats the eggs from the farm and he has a weakness for cheese. Same as me. Apparently, that’s not good enough for some people though. However, let me tell you that he has dedicated his whole life to helping animals and on a day like today, he’s there putting in long hours, freezing his butt off providing the animals with the best care possible. I doubt I could say the same for any of those people.
Veganism is rooted in compassion and not judgement but some vegans make the mistake of being compassionate towards animals while refusing to extend the same courtesy to people. It’s this kind of person that feels like it’s okay to base job worthiness on someone’s eating habits. Perhaps they feel more enlightened than most but to me, enlightenment is compassion towards oneself and to all other beings and acceptance of oneself and all others. Enlightenment is not something that can ever be reached but it something we should strive to brush up against.
I guess the bottom line is that I’d prefer taking a tour from someone striving to become vegan than someone who is and thinks they’re better than me because of it. Plus, the main goal of the sanctuary is not to cater to vegans but to teach non-vegans how to make healthier, more compassionate lifestyle choices. Wouldn’t it be better to have a tour guide who is working in that direction themselves? Someone more relatable? And let me tell you, if anyone ever made the mistake of looking down at me for being a vegetarian, I’d ask them where they buy their clothes? More than likely, that person is wearing something made in a foreign country by slave labor and added toxic chemicals and pollutants to our environment. Where’s their compassion or enlightenment now? My guess is that it only extends so far. Booyah!
I should note that I, of course, do not feel this way about most vegans. I’m friends with a great many of them and love them dearly. I was a vegan for several years and wish I could get back to that point. That darn cheese is a hard habit to break though. If only they could make a delicious substitute. And the farm is not to blame for removing my co-worker from tours. They’ve been pressured by donors for years and since they’re funded entirely through donations, I don’t think they had much of a choice, sadly. Even my co-worker understands that. So I don’t want this rant to reflect poorly on the farm because they’re all so awesome. It’s just a few squeaky wheels that have to ruin it all.