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Occasionally I hear gunshots outside behind my house. Sometimes it’s a short rat-a-tat-tat, and others it’s a deep, pronounced BOOM. No, I don’t live in a war zone, happily, just in a somewhat rural neighborhood that is adjacent to parkland and abuts a landowner with significant acreage. Depending on the time of year, this means hunting.

Lately when I hear the gunfire, I feel dread. It’s a violent sound, the sound of death. I can’t help but think of the creature on the receiving end of that noise and what it’s experiencing. My next thought is what a hypocrite I am.

Just yesterday I reached for my leather purse to pay for the delicious juicy cheeseburger I had for lunch. My freezer is filled with chicken and ground beef. I’m sure I use numerous things every day that are made with a variety of animal products. In these instances I don’t think of the animals involved, but I should.

Dennis doing what he does best.

Dennis doing what he does best.

I’m rather tender-hearted when it comes to animals. I’ve always lived in a house with a pet and can’t imagine not doing so. I talk to stray cats and make mooing noises at the cows when I drive past a farm. Seeing roadkill can ruin my day.

My problem is that I can’t convince myself that animals don’t have souls. I’ve witnessed animals exhibit joy, empathy, and grief. My cat, Dennis, has climbed into my lap to give me an affectionate face rub when I’ve been in tears. I can see the despair in his eyes when I leave the house. (He’s a bit clingy.)

Oh, crap. Did I just talk myself into veganism?