Welcome to this episode of Living Meatless Tales featuring Ally of Calgary Animal Rights Effort (CARE). Be inspired as you are taken on an adventure of transformation and understanding as our guest shares her experience of making the switch to a plant-based lifestyle, animal rights activism and inspiring others to do the same.
A Journey To Becoming Vegan
Our guest, Ally has made a commitment to being a voice for the animals and serving the community in a variety of ways. This is a selfless effort and one that deserves great admiration.
Ally began her journey to a vegan lifestyle a few years ago when she started as an activist. She protested to protect animals against the fur trade, attended seal rallies and participating in dolphin day to peacefully protest against the slaughter of dolphins in Japan. At the end of a protest she, and her colleagues, would celebrate by going out for a burger. An activity that would soon feel wrong.
Then, one day a lady asked Ally if she wanted to watch Earthlings, which is an “American documentary film about humankind’s total dependence on animals for economic purposes.”
Ally replied with a, “maybe later.” Knowing she was not yet ready to see the things that were showcased in the film.
At that point, Ally was still eating meat, dairy and eggs despite the fact that she was lactose intolerant and would take two pills just to eat a slice of pizza.
As Ally began to hang around more often with people at protests, who chose a more compassionate lifestyle, she started to learn more about what it meant to be vegan. By sharing their food she quickly discovered that vegan food was absolutely delicious.
For some reason, many people think that a vegan diet consists of eating nothing but lettuce and tofu but this is not true. Although, tofu is often a staple in a vegan diet since it comes in a variety of different ways many people choose not to eat this food and can make many different protein rich meals by using beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and a variety of other plant-based foods.
Many professional, and amateur, chef’s now make a living from preparing delicious vegan recipes to inspire more people to eat a plant-based diet.
As Ally became a stronger voice as an activist against animal cruelty, she soon learned more about the animals she was eating. She started to realize that the same animals she was trying to save during her protests were the same ones she was eating. It didn’t feel right.
Her first step towards a plant-based diet came when she learned that pigs are actually smarter than dogs. Ally has a dog, Roco who is a 13 year old maltese poodle. If she wouldn’t eat him, why would she eat a pig? Right then, she decided she would stop eating any pork products.
Continuing her quest for understanding where her food was coming from, Ally started to learn more about the beef and chicken industries and she started to ask questions such as, “why aren’t milk and eggs vegan?”
Once she began to research these industries, she quickly discovered the unfathomable amount of cruelty dairy cows and chickens endure so humans can exploit them for their reproductive secretions, namely milk and eggs.
She learned that dairy cows are artificially inseminated, which is very invasive in itself, then once the baby is born the calf is immediately taken from the mother before either have had the chance to bond. This, is extremely sad since the mother-baby bond is one of the most sacred connections between any living being. Mother cows and calves scream and mourn each other greatly during this process.
This, she thought, is unnatural and cruel and Ally didn’t want to support it. That was then she decided she would no longer eat beef, chicken, milk products or eggs.
No longer eating the dairy would especially be a good thing for her because she was lactose intolerant and the pills she consistently took just to eat cheese were no longer working. The digestive discomfort was not worth it, especially now that she knew the truth.
The final step towards a full vegan diet came when she stopped eating fish and seafood. Once she saw how fish were raised in factory farms and killed in the wild, or in captivity, that was it for her.
During our meeting, I asked Ally if thinking of her own health ever came to question when she made the decision to go vegan. She answered with an astounding “no!”
“I knew that I would rather starve than hurt another animal again.” She said.
I would 100% agree with her as I have felt the same way since going vegan myself and this is a common stance among many people who make the choice to go vegan.
Luckily, a vegan diet, if a person chooses mostly whole-foods, rather than processed junk food, is by default, according to the American Dietetics Association, healthier than a diet that is high in saturated fats that come from a diet high in animals products.
I went on to ask Ally if her husband was vegan. The reason I ask this question of people who are in a relationship because I know, from personal experience, how hard it can be to be in a relationship with someone who is not vegan.
She said that her husband decided to go vegan, slowly, because he loved the food. Also, the more he learned about the ethical component of being vegan he is now very conscious of his choice.
Calgary Animal Rights Effort
About six years ago, two years before going vegan, Ally joined the Calgary Animal Rights Effort (CARE) after she saw a seal rally happening downtown Calgary. She felt like she wanted to get more involved in events like this and has been an active member ever since.
This organization was started many years ago to protest animal cruelty and provide outreach and education to those who were interested in learning more about what was happening to innocent animals.
To keep costs low, this organization is predominately active on Facebook and relies on its followers to spread the word of community protests and other events.
You may see CARE members protesting various companies, such as Canada Goose, that exploit and torture animals for their feathers and fur to make jackets and other products.
These protests are peaceful and are meant to raise awareness in the community.
Unfortunately, even though more than 2000 people like the CARE Facebook page Ally says they don’t get a lot of participation at local events.
We discussed some of the reasons why people may choose not to get involved with these protest and awareness events. Perhaps its because people are scared to attend a protest and think that for some reason they may be chastised, arrested or placed in some sort of danger. Maybe people don’t understand what it means to be involved in a protest.
Many people are scared to take the step to become an animal activist based on the extreme activism they see online happening around the world. However, the events that CARE leads are peaceful protests and are more about education and bringing awareness to animal rights issues rather than doing anything radical.
I asked Ally what kind of feedback they get from the public at these events and she said that they get a variety of comments.
When people see the videos, or education that are presented they may say things like, “I had no idea that happened.” These people give genuine concern and inquire about how they can find out more or get involved.
However, people who don’t yet understand the meaning of the word vegan, or animal rights issues may say things like, “so what,” or “I don’t care.”
People have even gone so far as to say things like, “get a job” or “get a life” to the members who are protesting issues that are very dear to their heart and show compassion to the world and its non-human animals.
I was quite saddened to hear that these comments are said to people who are just trying to be a voice for the many victims that exist in the world. However, it’s important to remember that these comments are coming from people who do not want to be told that their actions are the cause of cruel behaviour and who do not yet fully understand the extent of what is happening in the world.
“It can be a lot of work to set up these protests, organize enough people to come and connect to local authorities to make sure the members and the public remain safe,” says Ally. “However, despite some negativity, and the work involved, there is a lot of good that comes from doing type of activism. It’s all worth it.”
Anonymous For The Voiceless
Along with CARE, there are other organizations that people can get involved with to be a voice for the animals.
One such organization that is around the world is Anonymous For The Voiceless, which started in Melbourne, Australia in 2016, now has demonstrations all over the world. It’s an animal rights organization that exposes the public to what is intentionally hidden when it comes to animal exploitation.
Members of this organization will align in a cite formation, with their backs turned towards the inside of the cube facing outward to the public. They wear masks and quietly hold computers that show footage of animal cruelty to raise awareness and help encourage bystanders to take veganism seriously in a non-violent manner. With a peaceful, value-based sales approach and resource literature, Anonymous For The Voiceless equips the public with everything they need to switch to a vegan lifestyle.
I concluded our conversation by asking Ally what advise she would give to someone who was thinking of making the switch to a vegan diet. This is what she said:
“Do a lot of research online. Know and understand what to eat so you eat the proper foods and not just junk food. Educate yourself as much as you can by reading books, following, and learning from, experts and organizations, like PETA, online and watch documentaries like What The Health. Connect with local animal rescues organizations, such as Robin’s Refuge, The Alice Sanctuary or Free Spirit Sanctuary that are all in the Calgary, Alberta area, and book a tour. See what these people are doing for the animals and hear their stories.”
How To Get Involved
If you would like to get involved in being a voice for the animals and taking part in some local protest events please look online to see what’s happening in your area.
Connect with Calgary Animal Rights Effort on Facebook to find local events and inquire about how you can get involved.
Thank you, Ally, for taking the time to chat with me about the various ways for people to get involved in being a voice for the animals.
Thanks to you, my readers, for taking the time to read this story. I hope that this, and other Living MeatLESS Tales stories, has inspired you in some way to be a voice for the animals. Whether it’s by cutting animals products from your diet, not using animals products and by taking part in local animal activism events to raise awareness in your community.
Until next time,
Namaste (the soul in me sees the soul in you),
Rachel Joy Olsen, BSc., MBA
Vegan, Author, Health & Wellness Coach
Read my, “From Frog Killer To Compassionate Vegan” story.