Portia de Rossi’s story on Oprah.com, shared with me at The Sink tonight in Boulder by my friend Juliana, gave me chills:
…I’ve always seen myself as an animal lover, but honestly, my affection didn’t extend to all animals. I categorized them: Dogs were smart, loyal, and loving, so they were more valuable than, say, goats or pigs. I think that’s why I never thought twice about eating meat. Steak and burgers weren’t an everyday meal, but I definitely accepted meat as a necessary part of life. That all changed five years ago, when Ellen [DeGeneres] and I moved to a farm in California.
The property was beautiful, with plenty of land for our animals: We had four cows and two calves, and after a few months, we took in a 4-year-old Canadian Warmblood mare named Diva. The night she arrived, I was so worried about her that I couldn’t sleep. She had been hauled several hours to our farm, and I feared she might have colic. So at 5 o’clock in the morning, I went out to the pasture to keep an eye on her. I sat very still, watching her until sunrise. Everything was so quiet that I think the animals forgot I was there. Then I witnessed something extraordinary: The cows formed a single-file line, and one by one they touched noses with the new horse as a greeting. The calves wouldn’t approach on their own, so one of the cows nudged them forward. Each of the babies touched the horse’s nose, then jumped around and played like little children.
I started crying and thought…
Why is it that because animals can’t speak, well, English in our case, we assume they’re dumb or worthless? Unless we know animals—as we do in our daily lives with dogs, cats—we assume they’re fine to eat. So the question is: is veganism the way to go? What will happen to all the cows if we all go vegan? Wouldn’t they die off, anyways? Is there a middle way—or, as with slavery, is this a case of black and white?