When listening to an advocate speak with passion and conviction about animal rights, it is impossible for me to remain dry-eyed. I have always been emotional, but there is something inimitably poignant about the fight for the freedom of animals; it is this ‘something’ that has resonated with me to such an extent that I have been moved to go vegan and to live the most compassionate life I possibly can. When Melissa, the surprisingly young founder and chief caregiver behind Farm Animal Rescue and Rehoming Movement, first took the stage to speak at the FARRM Laughs for Lives fundraiser last Friday March 20th, her voice shook with palpable emotion. Yes, some of it may have been the nervousness of speaking in front of a very full house. However, as she moved through the lines on the piece of paper she held, it was obvious to all in attendance that the words this young woman was speaking were not just from her heart, but pulled from the ethers, from the voiceless plight of the animals she battles on behalf of. By the time Melissa was finished her speech, I was not the only one wiping tears from my cheeks; even the most stoic spectator was touched.
When it comes to veganism it is very easy to get caught up in the more palatable concerns of the movement. We like to talk about what to eat, what recipes we should try, what vegan substitutes are available to satisfy any lingering omnivorous cravings. It can be easier than it should be to forget about the true root of veganism, which is the abstention from non-vegan products and materials as a form of activism in defence of the billions of animals brutally slaughtered for human consumption every year. Yes, there were long banquet tables laden with delicious vegan foods to savour at the fundraiser on Friday. There was fantastic music and comedy to help us all relax and enjoy ourselves after a long workweek. A cash bar was also available for those wishing to indulge in Friday night drinks. But, it was Melissa’s impassioned calls for mercy and compassion towards all living creatures that continue, days later, to echo in the chambers of my heart. Those selfless and full-of-heart people like Melissa who work so tirelessly to protect the vulnerable inspire me, and I am so thankful for them.