Australian Vegans Journal Vol. 2

Page 12

Fitness

- Fitness -

FROM THE POLICE FORCE TO THE PYRENEES A story of awakening and activism by Jan Saunders

I was a cop for 33 years.

as that young woman who swapped her badges. The journey

In 1982 I joined Victoria Police, specifically the Mounted

just proved to be an insanely long one.

Branch, because I loved horses.

I spent 27 years of my career training police horses and riders.

In 2015 I officially resigned from Victoria Police, and

I loved my job as much as I loved the horses, but on May 30th

specifically the Mounted Branch, also because I loved horses.

2011, I watched an investigation on live export and it set me on

My understanding of love changed in 2012, around the same time I went vegan. It is not love when we use someone. It is not love when we put them in harm’s way, no matter how many carrots and cuddles we offer. As a shy 20 year old I went from wearing Ban Uranium Mining and Save The Franklin badges to one that declared “Uphold The Right”. At that time, and for a very long time, the law, as I was taught it, was always right. I was taught to see things as black and white. I was taught to remain impartial. I was taught to ignore the voice of that longhaired girl inside me, the one who questioned if it was right to destroy all that was beautiful and pure for progress and industry. Later I learnt that injustice runs rampant in activities deemed lawful not only by government but by society at large, and that remaining impartial can be perilously close to being apathetic or disdainful. One may wonder what this has to do with my recent fundraising effort in France, attempting to run 866km across the Pyrenees, to raise money and awareness for five animal charities? But all journeys begin somewhere and mine began

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a trajectory that would totally change my life. It took me a year to join all the dots of compassion, taking me from what I saw as ‘cruelty’ by others to examining my own choices. As anyone at the start of their own ethical awakening will understand, it’s not a comfortable place to stand, in front of that mirror in our hands. When I first went vegan, what I recall most vividly, was the feeling of relief that the decision was made quickly. “Now, just get on with working out how to do it!” I thought to myself. While I embraced my new life at home, I struggled at work, feeling like the veritable square peg. I felt guilt, I no longer felt like I was on the team that had supported me for all my adult life. Every day, in a multitude of ways, it hurt me to be part of it. So I did what every seeker of truth does, I took off around the world backpacking for a year, finishing in Costa Rica in early 2014 with my first fundraising effort, raising $2300 for Animal Liberation Victoria by doing a 250km staged ultra marathon. I came home knowing my future was helping animals. I could no longer be part of a system that ultimately supported the oppression of them, intentionally or otherwise. Soon after, born initially out of desperation, a vegan B&B, The Beet Retreat, was born.