Thursday, September 28, 2017

Ahimsa and Animal Rights

There is a principal in yoga called ahimsa, it means to do no harm. The idea is to do no harm to any living thing. Most yogis do their best to honor ahimsa when it comes to the people in their life, but what about our furry friends, the animals? Some yogis choose to be vegetarian or vegan because of the way animals are treated at factory farms. Some believe negative energy transfers from the moment of death from the animal to them, and therefore choose not to eat meat. Ahimsa doesn’t stop at not eating meat, it also involves animal testing. One subject that is very near to my heart. Let me tell you my story about animal testing.

When I was seventeen years old and had just graduated from high school, I took a job selling perfume door to door. It was an experience to be sure. In a nutshell, we schlepped our box of “merch” all over town. Sometimes we had to get creative in gaining entry to the employees that had the no solicitation signs. Knowing this, I made my way to an industrial park, just down the street from where I grew up. Most of the doors were locked, but every now and then we would luck out and find a bored employee willing to let us in. On this day, most of the doors were locked, so I decided to get creative and go around back to the service entrance. One of the doors was unlocked and I walked in. 
​I entered the building, rather amused by my ingenuity.

I stopped dead in my tracks. I was overwhelmed by a pungent smell. There it was, a rack, not unlike a rack you might see at a bakery full of tasty donuts and croissants.  There were no pastries on this rack, it was full of bunnies. They were being used for animal testing. The rack was pushed off to the side much like you might find a patient left in the hallway waiting for a hospital room. My gaze met one of these bunnies in their eyes. There was sheer terror in his eyes. My heart raced as I quickly darted out of there. The image of that rack of bunnies is as clear now as it was over thirty years ago. This is the reality of animal testing. These helpless souls living in a rack while being subjected to terror, day after day. When I arrived home, my family consoled me and explained that’s just the way it was. That’s what animals are for. They don’t feel pain or they are too stupid to know what is happening. I knew at that moment that it was wrong. Just because something has always been, does not mean it should be.

How can we as people be so compassionate and at the same time so very cruel? As an adult, I choose to buy products that do not test on animals. It can be inconvenient at sometimes. After all, ignorance is bliss. It is easier to not know, just to look away. That doesn’t change the wrong that is being done.
We vote with our dollar. Consider supporting companies that do not test on animals with your patronage. A new awareness has risen. Try to give it some thought the next time you choose between two comparable products. Choose ahimsa.