Last night was a landmark for There’s an Elephant in the Room on Facebook.
August 2012, when I first became vegan, began a time of discovery; a new age in an unfamiliar landscape. Most new vegans will have had a similar experience; we have lived our lives to that point, thinking we had a grasp of the world and our role in it, both as individuals and as a species. In many ways, much of our life and living has happened on autopilot, running along tracks that were set for us in our childhood with the behaviours we were taught as infants. It had been comfortable; safe and cosy.
Then over a short period, everything changes. Nothing about the world itself changes, but our own perception of it shifts on its axis, so utterly that we feel disoriented, lost and adrift.
‘Information’ about our actions towards all other species, ‘facts’ that we have lived with for years and never challenged, are suddenly shown to be fabrications and fairytales, akin to the tales of Santa and the Tooth Fairy but infinitely more sinister. When we pull back the screen of the carefully constructed myths and peep behind it, we discover a rotten black heart behind the façade. Becoming vegan means that we have opened our minds to the grotesque reality of our species’ brutal tyranny. At first we have all been incredulous.
I remember that as realisation dawned, the truth was so unbelievable that it was as if my thoughts squirmed and writhed, seeking an escape as my morbid quest devoured Google. ‘This can’t be real, it can’t be true. It just can’t. That can’t happen. Surely not..? Oh please, no. No. Please make this not true. Please…’
Yet it was true. I was devastated. I was broken. And my life would never be the same again; people, places, actions, everything had to be re-examined in the harsh and bleak light of my new understanding. Gladly taking upon myself this new label, ‘vegan’, I realised that I could no longer accept anything I had been taught. In essence it had all been either completely false, or else tainted with the lies that half a century of speciesist conditioning had ingrained into my world view.
Spotlight on the elephant
I decided to start a Facebook page to document the thoughts which were beginning to flow from an unused and rusty place; that place where I questioned, and challenged, and looked for the real truth about those who are the defenceless targets of the orgy of gore and violence that our species inflicts on those others who share the world with us.
So ‘There’s an Elephant in the Room’ came into being. It landed uncertainly, wobbling rudderless and new in a turbulent sea; half formed and not yet focused, just as I was. There was so much to learn and I was lost for a time in the clamour of petitions and protests, recipes and consumer goods. It would be some time before I recalled the advice that I should write about what I know, and realised that the real reason for us all to become vegan is, was, and always will be, as the recognition that every individual, whatever their species, has an inherent right to own their body and their life.
I recall the first time someone I didn’t know ‘liked’ the page. I felt ridiculously elated. Suddenly I knew I was no longer alone. When 100 ‘likes’ happened, I was thrilled; who were those 100 people out there that I had never met? However as time went on, I began to realise that a numbers game could and should never be my goal. Every one of us likes our behaviour to be validated, our actions to be approved by our peers. There are hundreds, thousands of pages out there sitting on the fences of Facebook; a myriad pages endorsing, supporting and encouraging the torment of humanity’s innocent victims either overtly, or through a speciesist, treatment focus cloaking the refusal to state the unvarnished truth: that veganism and only veganism is the way to stop being the cause of the bloodbath.
Asking people to open their eyes to horror, appreciate their role in it and stop causing it is never going to be a welcome message; it’s never going to be a popularity contest. It’s said that one has to be realistic, pragmatic, because the ‘world won’t go vegan overnight’.
We’re doing it!
Well last night, Facebook announced that 20,000 people had ‘liked’ There’s an Elephant in the Room. Twenty thousand. Numbers may very well fluctuate and nothing is certain but you know what? Today I’m feeling a bit emotional about that 20,000 and it has nothing to do with anything that I’ve done personally.
I feel emotional because I know that out there in the world somewhere are 20,000 people who have decided to keep tabs on a page that tries never to compromise, never to sell out the defenceless and innocent victims of our species by asking for anything less than veganism; a page that doesn’t use ‘pragmatism’ as an excuse to betray those who are depending on us.
And it gives me hope and happiness that you’re out there, helping create the vegan world that is the only hope for our victims, for ourselves and for the planet. I’m so very glad to know you. Here’s to the next 20,000!