My fur-babies have roused me from one nightmare too many, literally and figuratively.

Many times, I have awakened to at least one cat meowing — er, yelling — in my ears, and after the initial OMG-what-on-earth-are-you-screaming-at-me-for moment has passed, I have always felt grateful for being brought back to reality where those horrific visions could no longer hurt me.

But the cats I shared my home with have done more than put an end to my night terrors. They made sure I no longer lived in a waking nightmare where I chose to love them while I ate their furry cousins.

Don’t do unto Others

Karmic as the world was, I started suffering from an illness that put me in the hospital for more than a week. I was in pain, what with my intestines ballooning to the point of rupture, and my doctors thought it was due to a tumor that was made worse — and probably even started — by the consumption of animal products.

It didn’t end there. Every morning, I woke up to stiff hands that ached whenever I tried to close them. I couldn’t flip pancakes or reach the top of shelves because my wrists hurt when I tried to bend them. I couldn’t walk for long periods of time because my knees hurt, too.

As a doctor, I knew of the relationship between meat consumption and human death. Study after study published in respected medical journals warned anyone who dared to read that meat increased one’s risk for dying early. Still, as someone addicted to bacon and steak, I lived my life like a zombie. I continued to eat meat even as I rescued and fostered cats, burying the guilt caused by my conflicting choices. I lived in a nightmare where my blind decisions to hurt and kill animals for food was hurting and killing me, too

My cats, however, would have none of that.

Unwitting Lifesavers

Mimi, a black and white cat who insisted on living with me despite already having another human (a story I shared in previous Animal Scene issues), showed me what magnanimity meant. Mimi was hissed at almost everyday by Merlin, the first black cat I adopted, but she remained friendly: She would always scoot closer to him when it was time to sleep. Despite always being swatted at, she would always try to groom her grumpy brother from another mother.

No amount of hostility from Merlin turned Mimi off.

It was perhaps her display of unconditional love that stayed with me, albeit only subconsciously, throughout the almost three years that Mimi chose to adopt me because eventually, I learned to love other animals the way Mimi did.

Eventually, I became a vegan.

Carnist Nightmare

Going vegan was like waking up from a nightmare: I no longer felt conflicted because I chose to spare all animals. I no longer suffered the consequences of animal commodification because my hand stiffness, knee pain, and tummy problems completely went away.

I saw things the way they truly were. Whenever we got sick from enjoying bacon and steak, I realized we were victims of injustice towards animals, suffering as we made other animals suffer and dying as we consistently caused their death.

Meat as a Gateway to Violence

Violence towards animals is a gateway to violence towards man. Psychiatry teaches us that a child who derives pleasure from the death of an animal is in danger of growing up a sociopath. Yet here we are, deriving pleasure from meat that comes directly from the death of an animal without caring about its effects on our psyche.

Murder, rape, war: If there was something we could do to help put an end to these atrocities, would we do it

 

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s August 2018 issue.