It’s official! I am celebrating my ten year veganniversary. I can’t believe I finally get to say it. I would like to say I don’t know why hitting this mark means so much to me, but I think I have a few ideas as to why this milestone gets me so excited, but also emotional.
According to this vegan calculator, I have saved 3,650 animals. I’m not here to toot my own horn, but can we please take a moment to think about that. Three thousand six hundred and fifty animals. Three thousand six hundred and fifty lives. Three thousand six hundred and fifty sentient beings that did not have to endure the tortures that factory farms inflict upon animals.
Three thousand six hundred and fifty lives saved, because of one little guy: Kabouter.
For those of you who don’t know, Kabouter was my best friend for eighteen beautiful years. I often refer to him as the love of my life, because truly, he was my everything. I’m sitting in a vegan café in Montreal writing this and I can’t type out his name without tears welling up in my eyes.
Kabouter passed away last summer, on August 18. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about him, but it never has seemed like the right time. I think it’s finally time.
One spring day in 1998, a stray cat showed up in the backyard of my family home in Saskatoon. I was five years old and my brother was six, so you can image what we would do with a cat in our backyard. The poor guy, we played with him and probably wouldn’t let him run away. That being said, I don’t think he wanted to. Because, as Fred Penner has famously said, the cat came back. And he continued to come back all week, and we continued to play with him in the backyard.
Eventually we convinced my parents that we should keep him. We called the SPCA to let them know we have this potentially lost cat, and they said that if no one claims him in the next two weeks, we could adopt him. Kabouter continues to come back every single day for the next week and a bit, until one day, he didn’t. Needless to say, we were upset. A little while later our family had decided we should get a cat, so off to the SPCA we went. My brother and I fell in love with all the gorgeous kittens and had picked out so many we would like to have taken home. But my mom forced us to visit every room and to meet every cat before we made our decision.
We went into the last room, and there was our beautiful (but in reality very skinny and rough looking) Kabouter.
We brought him home and ever since he’s kept our family together and sane. No words can do justice to what he meant to us—the English language just does not have strong enough words.
Seven years after our reunion at the SPCA, I made the connection that the meat on my plate was a sentient being like Kabouter. I could not love Kabouter as much as I did and continue to eat animals, so I stopped. I went vegetarian at the age of twelve, and then vegan at the age of fourteen.
My veganism means so much to me because it’s a way I can give back to Kabouter. He was the kindest and most gentle cat. My veganism is a manifestation of the compassion and love that he instilled inside me. It’s not always perfect, but I try to carry what Kabouter taught me in everything I do.
These ten years were for you, Kabouter.