The Note In My Dad's Wallet

By Priya Sawhney

My dad isn’t a vegan yet, but he cares about animals a lot. My dog, Mimi, is the light of my parents’ lives. If you come to my parents’ home, they’ll bombard you with stories of Mimi— her likes, her dislikes, and how she’s the princess of the house. Both of my parents wake up every morning and feed squirrels. My dad gives fresh, cool water to the birds, too. 

A few weeks ago, I went home and found a chicken curry dish tucked away in the downstairs fridge where my dad thought I would never see it. My parents weren’t home at the time, so I put a note on the pieces of the poor chicken’s body. I returned the next day and the chicken curry (half-eaten) was still there; I threw away the remains of the body and let my dad know. 

He was upset. “You can’t just throw food away, this is not right, people are coming over tonight, what are we going to eat?” I responded, of course, by saying, This is not food, this is violence. My dad was still disgruntled.

Fast forward to a few weeks later, and my dad’s friend is visiting. They are having a casual conversation, talking about family and friends. My dad’s friend asks, “What is Priya doing?” My dad pulls my note out of his wallet and shares the story of what happened when I found chicken curry in the fridge. 

My dad’s friend, at first, didn’t really know what to say. A few moments later, he said, “Can I see that note again? I think I should stop eating animals, too.” 

My mom shared this story with me yesterday. So I went up to my dad and asked him if he had the note with him. He said he carries it with him all of the time. 

There are times when we think our actions aren’t having an effect. We become dissatisfied and come to the same conclusions: “I should just be nicer. I should be more positive.” 

We go to family dinners, and we become complacent to the violence being committed by our loved ones. We want to believe the best of people (and we should), and thus we respond by offering vegan recipes or by sharing health incentives. 

Yet, we come back to those family dinners and people are still eating animals and we wonder, What do we do? There may be no single solution, no silver bullet that works in all cases. But the one tenet that remains true is that we never give up. 

My Dad cuddling with Mimi.

My Dad cuddling with Mimi.

Dad giving cool water to the birds.

Dad giving cool water to the birds.

The note in my Dad's wallet.

The note in my Dad's wallet.

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