Vegan Story #1-The Devil’s Diet
The Devil’s Diet
At school one day, when I was in ninth grade, the mother of one of the popular girls approached me at my locker.
“You know my daughter’s party invitation that you got?”
“Ah, yea…” I knew this couldn’t be good news.
“Well that was a mistake.” she scowled. “Don’t come by our house. I don’t want you filling my girl’s head with all that nonsense about mistreated circus elephants and farm animals. Animals were put on this earth for mankind’s use.”
My face grew real hot and my heartbeat was loud in my ears. I wanted her to leave me alone but she wasn’t quite finished with me …
Why it’s the Devil’s Diet and you’re just not welcome around here!”
I don’t remember how long I stayed in that spot. The next thing I knew, the bell rang, and the mom was gone.
This was not at all the first time people were mean to me due to my beliefs. I had become a vegetarian when I was eight, the age at which I first truly understood that meat came from real, live animals. Soon after that, some older kids shoved me to the ground (for the first time) and forced sand down my mouth, yelling at me to “Swallow! Cuz that’s what vegetarians eat!”
I was twelve years old when I happened to stumble across a book at the public library called Animal Liberation by a philosopher named Peter Singer. I brought the book home, and, over the course of the next twenty-four hours, I learned about the massive cruelty inflicted upon nonhuman animals in factory farms and laboratories. The moment I finished the book, with my heart split into pieces, I gave up eating, wearing, and using all animal products.
Now that I had become this strange thing called a ‘vegan,’ I was subjected to an even greater amount of suspicion— as someone who was threatening, sinful, or just plain weird. The year was 1976, and none of the people I knew, including me, had ever heard that word before. Being the only one of something can be tremendously isolating, and I just couldn’t understand why something I was doing for compassionate reasons caused such a lack of compassion towards me.
On one particularly rough day, when I couldn’t figure out how I was going to grow up in a world that was so seemingly cruel and selfish, I locked myself in the bathroom at home, vowing not to come out until my demand for my mom to give up eating meat was met. Carrying the burden of knowing and caring about the mistreatment of animals by myself was challenging enough, but then to be bullied for taking a stand was, at times, unbearable. I thought that having my mom join me on this mission would help to ease some of my pain. My mom, dad, and brother all tried to talk me out of the locked door, but there I sat, on the toilet seat, alternately crying and searching my brain for anything I could do to make life better.
A few hours into my standoff, my mom told me she couldn’t promise to give up all animal products, but that she could eat less meat. On some level, I was glad she was trying, but I also realized that I could not effect lasting change by bribery. So I stayed in the bathroom awhile longer, grieving for the animals— and myself.
Finally concluding that the world would not be changed by people like me, holed-up in self-exile, I left the bathroom with the weight of the world on my shoulders, knowing that I wanted to make a difference. That was one part of me that the bullies could not defeat: My commitment to taking an active stand for justice— for all sentient beings.
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