Gazing at pictures like this are a trippy experience for me. I recognize myself but it's hard to believe that it's me. If someone had told me then that I'd be a vegan someday, I would have responded with a face full of confusion followed by, "What's a vegan?" Even after being given an explanation, I would have balked at the idea. So what in the blue hell got me here?!
Just a few months after the above photo was taken, during Easter of 2009, my family gathered at my mother's house for dinner. After eating, I gave my laptop to my nieces so that they could show me some games they frequently played online. One of those games, a game that tugged at my seams, was Super Chick Sisters. Unbeknownst to me, the game was developed by PETA during a campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken and their suppliers. If you have a PC or Mac, you can play it here. The game is mildly fun and plays like a mix between Sonic and Mario Bros. The goal is to take the heros, Chickette and Nugget, through Colonel Sanders' lair to save Pamela Anderson. Seriously. During your quest, you encounter protesters that give information on how badly chickens from KFC suppliers are treated.
Most of the footage I watched was from undercover investigations and contained various instances of slaughterhouse workers viciously beating animals before killing them. I spent the rest of the night searching for any video or article that would cast doubt on what I'd learned. The more I searched, the deeper I fell into the truth. Finally I came across a video showing two men standing over a defenseless pig. She was lying on the ground, posing a threat to no one. Without provocation or reason, one of the men hoisted a cinder block high above his head and released it onto the pig's body. As I watched in horror, I realized that not only was I disgusted by the act but I was hoping someone, anyone, would swoop in to help. I knew then that I could not be a part of such cruelty. By morning, I was ordering a vegetarian starter kit. Despite the name, the information contained within pushed me towards veganism. As I flipped through my starter kit, I read certain parts aloud in disbelief. "Male chicks are routinely killed for eggs?!" "Cows need to give birth to have milk?! They're forcibly impregnated so that they'll give birth?! The calves are stripped away and killed?!" I had no room to make excuses. I had to change myself to align with my morals, even if I couldn't articulate them.
I spent twenty-three years eating the bodies of chickens and other animals. The final picture captures a moment between a rescued hen, Tina, and myself. The picture was taken during my first trip to an animal sanctuary. After contributing to the deaths of so many of Tina's brothers and sisters, I was too nervous to even touch her. Tina hovered near me waiting for attention. When she was finally placed in my arms, she was so docile and comfortable that she ended up dozing off. I can't think of a more peaceful moment that I've experienced, if there is one. This is how animals deserve to live; with the same safety, love, and comfort that any of us are entitled to.