As I approach my sixth year as a vegan it’s getting increasingly difficult to pinpoint what truly caused my shift. I look back on my life as a whole and find loose strings that, when tugged and followed, lead me to present state. The day when everything clicked was Easter of 2009.
On that fateful day five years ago, I was visiting family for the holiday. My mother had prepared enough food to last at least a week — even after everyone had taken a plate of leftovers. Unlike when I was younger, my mother had started to prepare everyone’s favorites despite the time and energy required. My brother-in-law got the fried breasts of chickens that he preferred, my sister got the fried thighs, the kids who disliked seeing bones and veins got chicken “strips”, and people that were trying to be healthy got baked chickens. That’s not counting the turkey, ham, and sides. Long hours and fast food had become my routine so I gorged on the home-cooked meal.
After they’d eaten, my nieces asked to use my laptop. Once I gave it to them, they went to their favorite website to show me the new games they’d discovered. One of the games was Super Chick Sisters (http://www.kentuckyfriedcruelty.com/superchicksisters/), a game similar to Super Mario Brothers but with two chicks as the protagonists. The goal of the game is to guide the Chick Sisters through KFC’s lair to rescue Pamela Anderson. Silly but surprisingly fun. As you’re going through the game, you encounter protesters that say things like, “Did you know that KFC’s chickens have their beaks cut off without anaesthesia?” I was initially shocked by the game but continued playing. Once I’d finally reached the end I was invited to check out videos on KFC’s operations. Down the rabbit hole I fell.
I distinctly remember trying to eat a chicken’s flesh while watching videos of slaughter. I managed a bite but couldn’t chew. The connection was made and I knew then that I would not be able to eat a chicken without Olympic-level mental gymnastics.
I spent the rest of the night online searching for videos and articles to invalidate what I’d just learned. When I watched a video of a pig screaming out for her life, I knew that the way I’d been living was wrong. Nearly six years later and I still can’t get that sound out of my head. By the next morning, I was a vegetarian.
Later that week I received my Veg Starter Kit — which, to my chagrin, was just a leaflet. The booklet detailed how male chicks are killed for the egg industry and that was enough for me to say that omelettes aren’t worth it. Inside the Veg Starter Kit was also something along the lines of: No animal drinks milk past weaning stages and no animal drinks the milk of another animal. That was enough. It made too much sense.
After my awakening, I thought that I would go up to my friends and family, tell them what I’d discovered, and they’d switch. I’m so glad that I didn’t hold my breath waiting. The social ostracism and ridicule has, by far, been the most harrowing part of my switch — aside from witnessing a constant holocaust, of course. Fortunately the vegans that I’m connected with act as my new family unit. They are some of the warmest and most compassionate people I have ever come across. They see the same injustice that I see in the world and they care enough to make changes.
I often am congratulated on being vegan by non-vegan friends. They see it as a challenge — one that they don’t believe they could handle. Many of them think that I’m under constant pressure or that I cheat when I’m away from prying eyes. Simply put, people with that mindset do not get it. I had no choice but to switch. I didn’t have a refrigerator full of fruits, veggies, tofu, and Gardein products when I switched. The fridge was full of leftover carcasses. Many times I walked to the refrigerator, opened the door hoping to find something veg*n, and walked away with an empty stomach. Eating an animal was not an option once I knew better. I encourage everyone with access to the internet to take advantage of the information age. Inform yourself and decide where you stand.