Social psychologist Melanie Joy describes her shift in consciousness about animals as suddenly “seeing the same things differently.” She describes living in a state of “knowing without knowing” for the majority of her life and then suddenly waking up to the shocking reality of how animals suffer primarily for our enjoyment in eating certain foods.
For some of us, such a shift in consciousness, when finally faced with the true consequences of our food choices, prompts us to act on what we know in an effort to align our beliefs with our actions. For others, the path is more complex. It takes many people time to first recognize all of the indoctrination that has shaped their beliefs for years and then resolve the internal conflict between their empathy for animals and the relentless social forces telling them to block that empathy.
I personally was an “on again-off again vegetarian for years with no ethical foundation for my food choices (up until four years ago). My narrow frame of reference was focused on an interest in eating a somewhat healthy diet. I see this same perspective in a lot of people I discuss the subject with today. They see the issue as primarily one of “self-help” and healthy eating because they haven’t yet examined the belief system that shapes our eating habits and traditions.
There are many motivations for why people come to the realization that going vegan is the most effective way for us to make a difference and thereby eliminate 99% of our unnecessary animal use. Today I received a response from a posting of mine on a LinkedIn group, announcing the release of the new documentary TURLOCK. One group member named Joan, attributed her own shift of consciousness to watching this film, as expressed in in her following comment:
“I watched this video with growing anxiety as I saw what I already knew to be true but had never seen. Thanks to you and Animal Place, I am ready to be freed from the last bondage of consuming animal products. I’ve thrown away the eggs and cheese in my refrigerator without a moment of regret. My quest now will be to become educated about a vegan diet. I have shared the video Turlock on Facebook and email. I am so grateful. This is the push I needed, painful tho it was.”
In reality, it was most likely many exposures that Joan experienced prior to seeing TURLOCK that “primed” her for concluding that she was ready to make a major change in her life based on her new awareness. Seeing TURLCOK was the decisive act of witnessing that solidified her shift in consciousness.
As animal advocates, our goal should be to put the information out there for people who are receptive to it. It’s often a lot like planting seeds and waiting for them to grow.