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So, you chose to get heavy with me… I know not everyone wants to go to the dark side, so I appreciate you taking a chance on what I have to say.

(***If you didn’t get here via my “choose your own adventure” post, be warned this is not a happy-go-lucky post.***)

I’ve been vegan for the past 9 months and do you want to know why I didn’t tell you (well most of you ;-)? It’s because saying vegan is like saying vagina… it makes people uncomfortable.

A few months ago, one of my friends was excitedly telling the story of his recent adventure aboard a fishing boat. I’m foggy on many of the details now, I’ve probably repressed them, but there were two fish. One they wrestled onto the boat and killed, and the other they dragged behind the boat for miles until it finally died. Both of them were massive, unfortunately, I haven’t repressed the ghastly photo.

“How do you feel about that, Bek?” My other friend asked me. I was barely keeping back tears, and maybe he saw that, but I held it together.

“Do you really wanna know?” I asked.

The one with the fish story turned to me like he’d just gotten caught telling a black joke at a rap battle. He threw his hands up and apologized. He was definitely sorry for telling the story in front of me… but not for what he’d witnessed.

I had no words for what I really felt at the time. Sadness. Anger. Those are the basic emotions… but words can’t touch their intensity. To put it mildly, that story, ruined my whole fucking day. Sometimes I wonder if empathy is my downfall.

After some retrospect, I realized something. However much that poor fish suffered before it died, it’s suffering was quite merciful when compared to the long-suffering “lives” of all the creatures we enslave for consumption. The ones killed for food are much luckier than the ones forced to “live.”

When I was transitioning from vegetarian to vegan I was an angry, weepy mess. I was hysterical over the fact that I’d mindlessly enabled, not just the massacre of animals, but endless suffering that’s surely a fate worse than death. If I’d known, I told myself, I’d have quit my precious cheese habit long before I gave up the meat.

But 19-year-old me was too uncomfortable to know the truth. When her dad tried to show her a documentary about what was really going on at factory farms, she said she didn’t want to know. She said she wanted to just buy her plastic-wrapped meat without knowing what horrors she was paying for. Some version of me actually said that. I’m ashamed.

I hope I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable, but if I did, you should probably wonder why you feel that way.

I’m the most comfortable with myself now, than I’ve ever been. I have a vagina and I’m vegan.

 

Want to go back to the bright side? Here’s the other story I found inside this photo.

 

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Artsy Reflections started out as the Photo and 100 Words project back in 2014 – find out why I started it and how it evolved.