When I tell people that I’m a vegan, I always get one of three reponses: “I could never do that!” “Who cares?” And, mainly: “why?”
I always ate meat. Growing up on a small farm in Morristown, Tennessee, it was expected of me; my mother made us potpies, stews and roasts, and we all ate them. My brother and I grew up in a very traditional and gender-conforming way, helping dad take care of the animals, although I always ran and hid when it came time to slaughter, something I never got used to.
I moved out the day I turned 19, set on city life. I moved to Toronto, Canada, a major change for me! Everything was exciting and I landed a decent job and apartment within the month. I was ecstatic.
Then, one day at a local diner, I bit into a steak and it made a noise. The noise, a long drawn out groan of pain, that I recognized as the noise a cow makes as it dies. I screamed and jumped back. No one else seemed to hear it. I took another bite and heard the same thing. I paid and biked home, my stomach in knots. The next day, a Saturday, I fried up some bacon, the way my mother always made it. When I bit it, instead of a satisfying crunch, I heard a drawn out squeal inside of my head. I swore off meat. It wasn’t hard to do under these new, horror-movie-esque circumstances. But it started to get worse. After a few months of not having it, it started happening with other things. Frantic clucking when I ate a boiled egg, noises of stress and fear when I drank a glass of milk. I swore off animal products altogether, although difficult, and my life went back to normal.
About 7 months into my veganism, I was nearly blackout drunk. I had made a few drinking buddies recently, and I began stumbling to my nearby apartment after a few too many vodkas. I passed a small kebab place, the aroma too overwhelming for my intoxicated brain to deny, and I picked the first and cheapest thing on the menu, a pork kebab. I sat on a park bench and took a hesitant bite. A small noise crackled in my ears but I ignored it. Then I took a large one, chewing a full piece. It tasted incredible, I was so glad to be able to eat this again…until my thought process was stopped short when a human scream rang in my ears.
That’s why I’m a vegan.