A story is told in poem form by a man who had a change of heart while hunting geese, a deeply touching tale of one man’s epiphany (printed in “Dear Abby” in 1991).
by Truman P. Reitmeyer,
A hunter shot at a flock of geese
That flew within his reach.
Two were stopped in their rapid flight
And fell on the sandy beach.
The male bird lay at the water’s edge
And just before he died,
He faintly called to his wounded mate
And she dragged herself to his side.
She bent her head and crooned to him
In a way distressed and wild,
Caressing her one and only mate
As a mother would a child.
Then covering him with her broken wing
And gasping with failing breath,
She laid her head against his breast
A feeble honk — then death.
This story is true though crudely told.
I was the man in this case.
I stood knee-deep in snow and cold
And the hot tears burned my face.
I buried the birds in the sand where they lay
Wrapped in my hunting coat,
And I threw my gun and belt in the bay
When I crossed in the open boat.
Hunters will call me a right poor sport
And scoff at the thing I did.
But that day something broke in my heart,
And shoot again? God forbid!
~TRUMAN P. REITMEYER
JOHN ROBBINS is an author and a man who gave up the wealth of his family’s Baskin-Robbins legacy to pursue a simpler life and is probably best known for his 1987 Diet for a New America book, an exposé on connections between diet, physical health, animal cruelty and environmentalism. He speaks of his own change in this video:
In The Pig Farmer, John Robbins tells the tale of a pig farmer’s incredible shift in viewpoint and lifestyle, and is one of the most powerful stories you’ll ever read. Here’s an excerpt:
“When I look at many of the things happening in our world, I sometimes fear we won’t make it. But when I remember this man and the power of his spirit, and when I remember that there are many others whose hearts beat to the same quickening pulse, I think we will.
I can get tricked into thinking there aren’t enough of us to turn the tide, but then I remember how wrong I was about the pig farmer when I first met him, and I realize that there are heroes afoot everywhere.”
HOWARD LYMAN is a former fourth generation Montana cattle rancher, and a world-renowned public speaker, author, and animal advocate. He is also the founder of Voice for a Viable Future and the subject of two documentary films, Mad Cowboy and Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home.
“I was raised on a small farm in Montana in the 1940s, during World War ll. We were poor but I had no understanding of what that meant. We had enough to eat and a large loving family, so the world looked great to me.
Living on a farm I was surrounded by many animals. My dog was always at my side, and I’m sure he spoke our language. The cows and horses all had names, and each one was a special critter.
I learned that a cow could pick her calf out of hundreds of other calves, and she never made a mistake. Our workhorses responded to verbal commands, so there was no doubt they understood our words, but we had trouble with theirs.
It was also a time when you never questioned the need for animal products in your diet. Milk was nature’s most perfect food, and this was agreed to by all, without thought or comment.
After high school I decided to attend Montana State University to learn the new modern methods of farming. I became exposed to better living through the use of chemicals. I never met a chemical I didn’t like. Armed with a degree in agriculture, I went home to build a large agribusiness.
I look back today with regret at how I became part of the profit-driven industry instead of an understanding animal among other animals. It took me years to understand that we are just a part of the universe, and not the most important part of it.
My life experience has given me a better understanding of what is happening, and what a mistake it is to believe there is anything called “humane” slaughter. Animals have families and feelings, and to think that kindness before killing them is an answer is totally wrong. Humans have no need for animal products. And when we consume animal products, we’re not just killing the animals. In the long run, we’re killing the planet, and ourselves.
I’m sure that it will take many years before the majority of humans learn as I have that actions, and not words, are the true proof of our understanding of the term humane. Living my life as I do now, as a total vegan, gives me great joy in knowing that no animal has to die for me to live.”