Many of you have probably lived with a cat or dog at some point in your life. I would like you to think of him or her for a minute, and roll your thoughts across the landscape of their souls. See how their emotions, though bereft of spoken words, were expressed in all their wondrous ways. See their smile, carried on the waves of shaken tail, and how they shared it with you when they licked your face. Hear their gentle purrs and feel the soft beat their heart made when they laid next to you. Think of the unconditional love that they gave so freely, and how it was returned. Now turn your thoughts darker, and complete the picture. See how they cried when a bone was broken or a paw accidentally stepped on. See their fear when they were hurt and had no idea that the pain could ever be stopped, or when they were alone and felt abandoned. How far did your own heart sink when you saw your beloved animal in such pain?

Take your compassion for them, and expand it in one small step. Think of a dairy cow on a farm. Can you see the mother as her child is torn from her side? If the baby is a male, he will be chained in a tiny crate, and not allowed to move for a year and a half. This is done for fear that movement will build muscles, and make the 'veal' too tight. His nightmare existence will end when he is killed, perhaps by a steel bolt shot through his head. His body will be dragged away, cut into slices, and sold in neat packages. The mother, when she has finally been drained dry of her milk and no longer profitable, will be thrown on a truck and follow her child to the slaughterhouse.

This is the face that is drowned in your bottle of milk. It is the scream that is ground up in your hamburger. I ask you to consider this: Is their suffering any different than what your dog or cat would have gone through? For me the answer was no. What opened my heart and mind was the concept that each and every animal is a unique being that feels joy and pain, and suffers as we would when harmed. They are all worthy of our defense and compassion.