I was paralyzed with indecision about what my first post on here should be. So much white space! So much possibility! Eventually, I had to write something, and when I thought about what veganism means to me, and how it all started for me, I came back to Jack.
Jack is a cat. He was our family cat, he lived in Montreal with me during university, and he’s still my best furry buddy. I know one cat year doesn’t actually equal seven human years, but if it did, he’d be 119. He loves olives, and hates shrill laughter. This is Jack:
Jack is the happiest, friendliest, best cat on the planet. And that fact has been corroborated by many, many people.
When we first got him, my sister and I would put him in a stroller and push him around, and he was so gentle with us. Many years later, he was my little spoon when I having a particularly heartrending, difficult time, and he slept with me all night, every night, for months. He greets me at the door when I get home, and follows me around when I wake up, purring just because he’s so happy to be around his people. He’s the epitome of unconditional love, and that’s the greatest gift you can get, and something that animals offer to us all the time, and is all too often taken for granted.
So, if you think it’s weird that my first post is about my cat, you clearly don’t know what it feels like to have a being around that magically knows when you’re crying and comes from somewhere else in the house to bunt you (that’s what it’s called when cats head butt you. Cute, right?). You clearly haven’t had the honour of being loved by a creature who trusts you, needs you, and loves you without hesitation. If you had, you wouldn’t question this at all.
Now, Jack has stage four kidney disease. He’s gone from 17 pounds to 8 pounds. We give him a liquid IV every other night, his kidney medication daily, and an appetite stimulant whenever he needs it. He gets special soft food, and all the treats he can eat. Basically, after years of loving me and my family and asking nothing of us beyond the bare necessities, we get to return the favour. We get to support him through his difficult time, and love him as hard as we can for as long as we can. According to the vet, he’s not in pain, and he still purrs as soon as he sees me, and greets me at the door when I get home, but one day too soon it will be time to say goodbye. So, before he goes, this is my ode to Jack.
The reason Jack and veganism are linked for me is that when I was pretty young (pre-teen, at least), I would have epic battles with my mother over eating meat. I remember pork chops in particular, but I’m sure there were more. She’d say I had to eat my dinner, and I would say no. I usually ended up sitting at the kitchen table staring at my plate for ages until my step-dad took pity on me and hid that freaking pork chop somewhere. I didn’t have an idea of what it meant to be a vegetarian or vegan, but I would always say “flesh is flesh,” because to me, all that meat might as well have been Jack. So I guess, before I learned about factory farming and vivisection and the other myriad horrors that inform my decision to be a vegan now, Jack taught me that eating another animal wasn’t right. He taught me that animals love, that they can feel pain, and that they have preferences and personalities.
I saw Jack, my four-legged family member, and realized that he was no different from the pig my pork chop came from. I think at one point I even said to my mother that it was the same as eating my little sister, which I don’t remember her response to. It was probably something non-committal – my Mom eats very, very few animal products these days, but she thought she was doing the right thing at the time by getting us to eat our “protein.” Ah, misinformation, you sneaky b**ch.
Anyway, I’m sure I would have found my way to veganism without Jack eventually. I sought out information, and meat always instinctually grossed me out. But there’s no doubt about it that Jack taught me about loving animals, and being loved by them. He gave me a precious gift, and you could say that he’s at least partly responsible for saving quite a few animal lives. So, as if you haven’t given me enough, thanks for that too, Jack. You’re so freakin’ epic.
I guess that’s it for now. I have no idea what this blog will turn into, but at the very least, I put my love and gratitude for my fuzzy Jack-Jack out there into the world. And that would be enough all on it’s own.
As a thank-you from Jack and myself for making it all the way to the end of this post, here are just a few of my gazillion ultra-cute pictures of Jack: