Dealing With Unconscious Family Members During the Holidays
For the past week, five members of my husband’s family stayed at our house to celebrate Christmas. I was the only Animal Person in the house, and my husband, who had theretofore made considerable progress and was a vegan at home (and who knows what outside of our house), soon completely caved in to the pressure of his family and their habits (and his old habits).
It was heartbreaking to observe him eat fish, chicken, pig, and cow. Every single meal my guests had contained some kind of flesh or other animal product. I even ate pizza for the first time in a long while (and paid dearly for it with buckets of mucous and inflamed sinuses). It wasn’t my finest hour.
Because I ate pizza, I understand the impulse to regress to the mean. Not one of my guests has any desire to learn how to be healthier or to save any animals. They know what they are eating, they know it was produced with great suffering, and they don’t care.
When I read that, they sound like barbarians. But they’re just regular people from the Midwest, going through life doing what they think is important. The fact that they don’t consider their health, the health of the planet, or the suffering of animals isn’t all that remarkable. The majority of people I know are intelligent, well-educated people of integrity, who simply don’t include anything not-human in their circle of concern–particularly if that would mean inconveniencing themselves or making any sacrifices.
How, then, does Mary Martin, Ph.D., Animal Person, deal with unconscious family members during the holidays? For the most part, I don’t. I pick my battles. For example, most people of my parents’ generation aren’t going to dramatically alter their view on food. The idea is so alien to them that they simply cannot wrap their minds around it. They are fully committed to their ways, and no one is going to talk them out of how they do things. It’s sad, but it’s true.
Younger generations are far more receptive, and the 30 somethings at my house are quite progressive in that they only eat organic. But they have no problem eating animals. They know of the cruelty and the suffering and the environmental costs, but, like their parents, they somehow justify their choices to themselves and don’t see anything wrong with the way they eat.
It was surreal watching, meal by meal, the animals that were consumed in the name of "celebration" and the "holiday" in my house. If I want to stay married, there’s really nothing for me to do.
I took solace in my reading and writing and the fact that each day I advocate for a more compassionate and healthier way of life. Each person who e-mails me confirms that I am making a difference, and that some people do indeed want to live a more meaningful life and broaden their circle of concern beyond the human world.
I save my precious energy for those who are open and seek an ecological ethic that will make this world a better place for future generations. And I have grown some mighty-thick skin for everyone else.