So my partner Megan and I just took the liberation pledge, and we wanted to share the first conversation we had about it with a friend in regards to a meal we were expected to be at.
Megan's best friend's 30th birthday party is next Saturday (they've been besties for 17 years) And we just took the pledge a couple days ago. The evening has already been planned, so instead of asking them to accommodate us, we figured that this time we would just skip the meal part, and just join them for drinks after they've finished.
We tried to be real chill about and basically be like, "hey we're not going to be able to make it for lunch, but we'll meet you at the restaurant at the end of the hour, and we'll hang out there for drinks and go to wherever we're all going after that". More or less.
But she asked questions about it, so we figured we might as well talk about it now rather than later. So Megan wrote her an email:
I'm not entirely sure yet what I'm doing, but the main reason I want to skip out on the food portion of the get together is because of the meal itself. Being around dead animals is upsetting to me, and I'm very uncomfortable with it. I feel the same way about seeing chicken, bacon and beef on a plate as others would if it was dog, cat, or horse being served. I can't keep going on acting like it's not really that big of a deal so as to not bother others. I've been doing that my ENTIRE life. Scott and I (finally) went to a DXE meet up yesterday (an international animal rights group with a chapter in Philly). It was really great to have the opportunity to discuss our shared values and the problems we face. We discussed the difficulty in being around dead animals being served and they asked us if we've heard of the liberation pledge and if we would like to take it. Since it is directly in alignment with how I feel and how Scott feels, we decided to take the pledge, and part of the pledge is to refrain from eating at a table where dead animals are being served. It's not always going to be doable and perfect, but I absolutely think it is what's best for me and the movement. I wouldn't break bread at a table where people were eating dogs, and neither would you or most people. I'm an activist who supports animal equality, so I cannot treat a table where other animals are being eaten any differently than I would treat the dog meat table. I support a movement to ban these kinds of foods from all tables. It just goes too far against my beliefs to continue to normalize something I believe is wrong. I really want to be there for your birthday. I can't wait to hang out! I was thinking of trying to come for drinks after the meal is over so I can still be there with you and everybody during that part of your birthday. I know you're probably going to play it by ear, so maybe I can just plan to show up towards the end of the hour or something for drinks and then join you at the park afterwards. I want to emphasize that you and your birthday mean the world to me, and that I will otherwise be there with you the rest of the time. Maybe we can even meet up the following weekend to continue the celebrations. I hope that you can understand. Let me know if you want to talk about it more on the phone or anything.
Her friend's response:
I want to start by saying, first and foremost, that I completely respect your decision to do whatever it is you need to do to align your lifestyle with your morals. I admire that you continually take your cause so seriously and continually work towards integrating it into your life. The amount of advocacy you do for animals is amazing.
With that being said, if you want to meet up an hour in, or take Amari to St Pete's to hop on rocks instead of joining lunch on my birthday, that's your choice and I'll respect that. I am, of course, upset you'll miss out on the good times had, and 30 is a big one. But if you feel this strongly, you should do what feels right to you.
I do have some questions though in regards to this new pledge you took. There will be meat at Karlys and Barb's weddings, so will you not come to the dinner portion? What about hanging out in a group, and we get or make food, and someone has meat - will you leave? I guess I can't help but worry that this will become an issue at some point. I know that to you, what you're doing is more important than making people feel comfortable, I just don't want shit to get weird or bad between anyone. Ya know?
Regardless, you know I love you and support you no matter what. And just so you know, I did let Fee, Karly and Barb know what's up so they know what's going on when the time comes.
(So that wasn't so bad. It actually went a lot smoother than we thought it would. She did ask questions though, so Megan asked me to help her write another response. And I guess we're still in the early days of defining what the pledge means to us and how we want it to encourage further commitment to activism in our lives, so we kind of rambled on. We're still learning how to talk about it, so any feedback or advice on how to more succinctly make our points would be greatly appreciated. We just have do much to say!!!)
Our 2nd response:
I know that this is obviously a lot to take in. Yes, it will be weird for many people, as well as for Scott and me, on many occasions. We are taking a huge step from being passive abstainers to being social activists for change.
Activists are not just trying to make a point, they are trying to CHANGE laws. This pledge we've taken will obviously rub a lot of people the wrong way, and as much as we wish that wasn’t the case, we are prepared for that reality. We believe that all animal use should be made illegal. I know that sounds crazy to most people right now, and that’s exactly why we are trying to make this idea better known to more people by taking more dramatic action. We are trying to become active members of an organization that hopes to get The Species Equality Amendment passed by the year 2055. Social activists do things that are considered extreme in their time, but later those choices are seen as necessary. Social activists throughout history were and are often arrested for their cause. This pledge we have taken is really still a small-scale thing we are doing compared to the type of activism we wish we were doing more of.
When we see people eating murdered animals and the secretions of enslaved animals, we literally feel like we are witnessing a crime, and then we feel conflicted about how we say nothing about it to “respect other people’s choices”. This is really going to be hard for us and extremely awkward, but this is the path we’re on. You can think of it as a religious difference, if that makes it easier to accept. If an orthodox Rabbi comes to dinner, even if there are kosher options at the table, he would not be expected to sit at the table unless the entire spread is kosher because that goes against the pact he has made with his beliefs. That’s where we’re at with this. That’s actually a bad example because we really don’t see this as a belief, this is an issue that we actually hope to see become policy.
Like I said, this is not always going to be doable in a perfect way, but we will do our best. This is also new to us, so it is a learning process and we don’t have it all figured out yet. Other people in the community who have taken the pledge have spoken of instances where it was too big or too personal of an event to miss, such as a loved one’s wedding, and they shared with us how they navigated those situations. One woman said that at a wedding where arrangements could not be made to eliminate animal products from the menu or to give them their own table, she decided that she would sit at the table, but not eat, even though the hosts DID offer vegan options.
Obviously, the point of this pledge IS to make it an issue for people. It is pledging to publicly and ACTIVELY protest the slavery of non-humans WHEREVER we encounter it. We think it is wrong for ANYONE to engage in this behavior, and even if we are never going to change your minds about animal agriculture, we cannot continue to tolerate it without taking a more dramatic stand than simply ordering something else. I am not missing your big 3-0. I will be there to celebrate the day and to celebrate You, I just will not bear witness to what I have aligned my values to see as a crime. I’m just missing the meal that would have silently driven me crazy the whole time, just like EVERY meal I share with people drives me crazy. Like I said before, it’s no different than if puppies were being served. We want to make everyone realize that it’s seriously torture for us to look at people eating that stuff. I know it seems like this whole thing is rude of us, but honestly, when we judge someone’s actions so harshly, the most polite thing we can do is really to just not be there to see them do it. I’m not sure I’m saying this right. I mean that it seems like this gesture is really rude of us, but what’s REALLY rude of us is when we just sit there and act like everything’s normal when we’re actually fuming over it, screaming “No! Stop!” inside our heads.
I know this is getting to be a really long rant, it’s just that this is my first conversation about it really, and I’m just putting into words for the first time all the reasons I am doing this.
I care very much about you and about everyone else in our group. I look forward to every chance we can all be together. I know that you all have lots of questions, and I’d be happy to discuss any questions you may have. I think that the main thing we can do is take it one occasion at a time and Scott and I will do our best to be a part of as much of it as we can.
Also, I’m REALLY not trying to make YOUR birthday about ME. I know that the timing of this decision we’ve made isn’t ideal. I feel like the most low-key way to approach it this time is really to just be late for the meal part and just come and be chill after that part. Yanno?
Well, that's our experience with it so far. Still waiting for a response. Thanks for reading!