A Special Letter for My Dad This Father’s Day

Dear Dad,

I wanted to write my Father’s Day card to you publicly this year, because there’s something I’d like to say that I think other people might want to share with their dads, too: thanks for being open to changing.

When I went vegan, I think you respected my decision and might have even been proud of me. That said, you had your own lifetime of “blocked vegetarianism to get over. I remember getting into a few heated debates, like whether animal suffering is as important as human suffering, and for a minute there, I wasn’t sure you were listening.

Like me, you had a lot to learn. You didn’t really understand that fish feel pain, how pigs are like dogs, why organic meat is cruel too, or the fact that there’s likely more suffering in a glass of milk than a steak. In your typical way, you were argumentative and generally dad-headed, but to your credit, the wheels had started to turn.

You continued to learn. When I got a job at Mercy For Animals, you liked our Facebook page and began to educate yourself. When I came home to visit, you’d start talking unprompted about the environmental impact of meat or the ways in which your dog clearly had feelings just like the animals used for food do. Without much prodding on my part, you soon told me you’d stopped eating cows, then chickens. Last Thanksgiving, you worried about your first holiday surrounded by dead animals; a tradition you once loved now saddened you. You’d made the connection.

Now, the smell of animal flesh on the grill grosses you out, and the man who used to take me to get Happy Meals now says he doesn’t miss hamburgers—like me, even the Beyond Burger sometimes creeps you out for being so realistic, though you’re also glad it exists.

You’re still on your journey, as we all are. You recently ate cheese in front of me and said, “this is why I could never be vegan—but those moments are slowly becoming less frequent. When you showed up at our local VegFest, you happily sampled all the vegan yogurts and cheeses and asked me where to buy them—maybe you’re starting to see eating vegan isn’t a matter of “could but of “want. You’re open to moving forward, and that’s what matters.

Every step you take helps not just the animals, your health, and the environment, but also our relationship. Each time you happily eat vegan food around me and take further steps to live in accordance with your values, it makes me feel respected by you and proud of you. It shows me that however we may sometimes differ, you are capable and committed to growing as a person, and you care about my feelings, too.

Thank you for taking all the steps you have this year to reduce both animal and human suffering, and Happy Father’s Day.