The evolution from meat eater to vegan animal rights activist

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Almost seven years ago, I had my first date with the man who would become my husband. In a sense, we had been set up by a mutual acquaintance, who just couldn’t deny our similarities, both personally and professionally.

Chris worked as a personal trainer, although not exactly the same to my more spiritually based yoga practice and teaching, the health component was there. He also had a pet care business that mirrored almost exactly what I had created for myself after graduating with a BS in Psychology, where I had focused my studies on Animal Behavior.

The first introduction was with business intent only. We both hoped to be able to have a back up in case we couldn’t take a client, or in the more extreme case of some emergency that would keep us from the four-legged clients, who were anxiously awaiting our arrival.

One conversation was all it took. Our acquaintance had been right. After two weeks of getting to know each other over the phone, we had our first date. The rest, as they say, is history.

But, for all our similarities, there had been, from our first meeting, one glaring difference. He wasn’t a vegetarian. It was the one fact I couldn’t understand, based on his love of animals, his sense of compassion and kindness toward all beings and his natural enjoyment of foods like tofu and seitan. But I never pushed.

Fast-forward about five and a half years. I had made the change from vegetarian to strict vegan, sharing my love of my plant-based diet with him over luxuriously prepared dinners that would leave him happy and satiated. Of his own accord he picked up the stacks of books I had lying around the house and began to read about the facts he already knew to be true, but hadn’t been ready to face. I watched him go through the same process I had gone through myself; the one in which we finally see, without blinders, the reality and consequences our actions and choices have on the lives of other living, sentient beings.

Not long after he began his research I received a phone call from him. On a cold, winter afternoon, my soon to be husband, called to tell me of his “aha” moment. When finally everything he knew and saw clicked in his mind and his heart, leaving him at once exalted with liberation from contributing to the pain and suffering of billions of animals, and also despondent with what he could now never deny as the way of the world.

Almost two years later, Chris is a full-fledged vegan and animal rights activist. He serves on the board of directors of our recently founded non-profit organization, which is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for the rights of all animals. And most recently, he took the time and energy to write a retort to an article in the NY Times, written by Mark Bittman. His letter, one of thousands received each day, was published.
Sometimes I can’t believe it. My husband is a daily reminder of the ever-present possibility of awesome transformation and change. Of what one can accomplish with words instead of war and how choosing compassion for all living beings opens us up to being more compassionate with ourselves. He is one of my greatest teachers, and I couldn’t be more proud.

View Chris’ letter to the Times here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/15/opinion/lweb15bittman.html

Erica Settino
Erica Settino is the co-founder and executive director of the non-profit organization, Karuna For Animals: Compassion In Action, Inc. A long time vegetarian turned passionate vegan, she works tirelessly to educate others on the countless benefits of adopting a vegan diet. For more information about Erica and her work visit karunaforanimals.com.

Photo credit:flickr.com/photos/qisur

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