How My Dog Turned Me into a Vegetarian

Flynn

Due to my son being an only child with little perspective on living with siblings- friendships, fights and loyalty, my husband and I adopted mans “best friend” with the hope it would become Jonah’s “little brother”. The big hope was that our gorgeous red and white cocker spaniel rescue dog was to would teach my son the responsibilities of caring for another dependent being. We had images of my son walking and feeding our new addition to the family.
What actually transpired was far from my vivid imagination. Flynn gravitated to me – I became his world and he, my shadow. Irrespective of my mood, Flynn was always happy to be with me and tail wagging to prove his point.

Being a rescue dog from an abusive environment, Flynn arrived at our home, skittish and fearful.  It was clear that my sweet Flynn with his honest spirit had been subject to tsa’ar ba’alei chayim : the infliction of unnecessary pain on animals.  Whenever I would offer my hand to pet him, his eyes would squint and his face would jerk, weary of a strike.

My Flynn with his expressive eyes, beckoned me to love, hug and protect him unconditionally. Flynn became my “baby”. Rather than Flynn becoming another sibling for my son, he became my toddler who needed all my attention and would reciprocate with loyalty, hugs and kisses.
Then it was almost two and a half years ago, that my husband and I were sitting around the Sabbath table with a roasted free-range chicken in front of us for dinner that I was struck with an epiphany. Looking at this headless chicken in its full form with the legs and everything intact, made me think of Flynn.

I asked myself, “How can I eat an animal and simultaneously live and love an animal?” I was definitely a product of our society, disassociating the head with the animal, not connected to a fellow mindful creature I was about to eat, but Flynn changed that all for me.

Before Flynn, I did not think too much about tsa’ar ba’alei chayim nor the innocent chicken living in cramped quarters, pumped up with hormones with the sole purpose to be my dinner.  It took Flynn’s gentle soul, my fellow companion to teach me that we are all connected to living creatures.

Suddenly eating this chicken became extremely unappetizing, and I just could not eat it.

My interspecies relationship with Flynn eventually raised my awareness that vegetarianism is life affirming. This was characterized by abstaining from all animal eating, embracing a vegetarian lifestyle related to gratitude for our animal kingdom, rather than entitlement and ownership.

Although I adopted Flynn from the harsh treatment of living with an abusive owner, Flynn in turn adopted me as well. He taught me that we are a part of nature rather than apart from nature. Flynn’s innocence and sweetness evoked a compassion for embracing cohabitation and respect for all animal life that I am grateful and has forever changed my life.

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7 Responses to “How My Dog Turned Me into a Vegetarian”

  1. Dan Says:

    A similar thing happened to Cesar Chavez, who also became vegetarian through thinking about and identifying with his dog Boycott.

    Here is what he said:

    “I became a vegetarian after realizing that animals feel afraid, cold, hungry and unhappy like we do. I feel very deeply about vegetarianism and the animal kingdom. It was my dog Boycott who led me to question the right of humans to eat other sentient beings.”

    For more info on Judaism and vegetarianism/animal rights, please visit The Vegetarian Mitzvah at http://www.brook.com/jveg and view a free documentary at ASacredDuty.org

  2. Susan McCauley Says:

    Thank you for this inspiring sharing of your raising your level of awareness. I am sharing on fb and wish you and your family all the best.

  3. Dahlia Klein Says:

    I really appreciate your comment and that it touched you as well…. Warmly. What are you sharing on facebook?

  4. Roberta Schiff Says:

    Dahlia,
    so many of us in the Vegan Community work to get this message across. Thank you for sharing your story. Recently a friend told me; “I know a lot of what you want me to know, but I have compartmentalized it so that I can continue to eat what I want.” Your experience can help others emerge from that box.
    You would enjoy reading “the World Peace Diet” by Will Tuttle. Also check out the North American Vegetarian Society. their annual Summerfest Conference is a wonderful family experience.

  5. Dahlia Klein Says:

    Roberta,
    You see it took Flynn, my dog to awaken that sensitivity in me. I actually had to be in his loving presence to realize this. It’s definitely harder to transmit the message when are not in a situation that calls you in, as Flynn did.
    One could read my article and say, hey I should be thinking about my domestic companion differently… at best. Hopefully that will translate to all living creatures.
    I will check out the book you recommended… it’s up my alley. I now about Richard Schwartz… he has written a similar topic to world peace and diet.
    Thank you for your comments as well. It’s nice to know that this resonates with many.

  6. Dahlia Klein Says:

    Thanks for sharing Dan. I actually saw the movie A Sacred Duty before you told me about it through Richard Schwartz. It was inspiring.

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