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Going Rogue for Animals

By Laurie Nelson-Barker

Boy Kissing DogI guess I’ve gone rogue again. Or maybe I’m still rogue. It all started with animals. I’ve always been an animal person. I love anything that has fur, wings, or even scales. I have many friends with four feet, hooves, and claws. They yell loudly if they aren’t getting enough attention and some bite if provoked. To me, the obvious solution is not to provoke them. Just saying.

Because I want to live in harmony with animals, other ethical issues have surfaced. I became aware of the horrendous ways that humans mistreat and manipulate those that cannot speak for themselves. Therefore, approximately 27 years ago, I decided that I could no longer eat my friends. I became a vegetarian. At that time, even being vegetarian was a pretty extreme lifestyle. There weren’t a lot of great meat substitutes, and if I knew then what I know now, I would have avoided those highly processed foods. It’s a process, what can I say?

A few years later, I got a job with The Humane Society of Utah. It was my chance to help animals even more. I went to a seminar for animals in Washington D.C. that featured some prominent and accomplished speakers like Dr. Jane Goodall. I remember an amazing vegan buffet. I had no idea vegan food could taste that good. I was becoming more aware. I began to realize how badly factory farm animals were treated and yep, you guessed it, vegan became my only option.

My children rolled their eyes and dug in their heels. They rebelled and resisted, but I was the mom so they were out of luck. One daughter even told a teacher that she wasn’t being fed well at home. The teacher offered to make her a ham sandwich. That was about 25 years ago, and I have just forgiven her. She has children of her own who have food issues. I am trying not to make any snide remarks about paybacks. My other daughter has recently adopted a vegan lifestyle. She is now my favorite!

With knowledge comes responsibility, and I felt I had an obligation to inform others of the many benefits of plant-based diets. I always try to include my friends in my rogue endeavors, whether they want to be included or not, so I formed a Meatless Mondays group in my small community of Dammeron Valley. I didn’t really expect much. You would think that there weren’t many vegans in a small community where people raise chickens, cows, and goats, but you’d be wrong. I was delighted to find others that shared my passion. Even those that are fairly new to plant-based eating have come up with creative and delicious dishes. The addition of wine hasn’t hurt any either. It’s no secret that plant-based eating has incredible health benefits. I am starting to see a difference in body composition in the members of our little group. Most of us exercise together as well, and we are becoming leaner and stronger. We are the Wonder Women of the Baby Boomers, ha!

For me, just being vegan isn’t enough. It goes a long way in helping animals, but I’ve always felt that I need to give a voice to the voiceless and help the helpless. So, I find myself writing LTEs, holding signs, and marching in one hundred degree heat. Events such as rallies for animals and celebrating the creation of a brand new Washington County Animal Shelter, create opportunities to help in a fun way. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Helping the environment helps animals, and helping animals helps humans, the ultimate animal. I’m old, but my plant-based body is holding up pretty well for my age. Besides, I still have to prove to my daughter and those that doubt, that you can live without a ham sandwich!

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