My name is Raine Lamb and I am a vegetarian. I have never eaten animals in my life. One of my friends said that fish and birds are not meat, but anything with a face that is killed is meat. I don’t eat anything with a face!
I am a vegetarian because I love animals and I hate it when they are hurt. I think it is terrible when people kill animals just for food. There are other things to eat! I understand the part where the animals kill each other for food cause they barely have a choice, but we do.
If you eat pork, that’s a pig. If you eat beef, that’s a cow. People don’t think about what they eat because they change the names to feel more comfortable eating dead animals.
If people knew how cows and pigs and chickens were raised and killed, they might choose to be a vegetarian like me.
I think people should get to choose. Even though my mom and dad chose for me to be a vegetarian, I am old enough to make my own choice now. I choose to be a vegetarian. My favorite animals are dogs, cows, pigs, and frogs. When I grow up I want to be a vegetarian veterinarian.
I admit it; I ate meat.
To be completely honest, I consumed it in large quantities. No, make that tremendous amounts. Meat took the starring role in breakfast, lunch, and dinner. There were the limitless options of burgers, meaty omelets, flaming steaks, or spicy tacos. As any typical teenager, diet was not my forte, and thus the seemingly perpetual cycle of “meat: it’s what’s for dinner” became my motto. However, this is not the account of my past relationship with the carnal side. Having “crossed over,” as far as diet goes, I have discovered the universal significance of transforming my life into the life of a vegetarian.
Beginning in Honduras, my alteration of lifestyle became apparent as I witnessed the world outside of America. At an impressionable age of 16, I embarked on a life-altering experience with my church to go on a mission trip to a third world country. The poverty, malnutrition, and rampant disease prominent were a splash of frigid water in my face. Coming to take the basics I had received all my life for granted made the switch to a country of less fortune even more contrasting. Administering what I would deem “basic food” to the civilians made me realize how selfish I was and how wasteful I was in my relationship with food. The essential nutrition needed by the citizens did not cover meat, nor did I absolutely need this meat to survive. Strikingly, I became aware of the millions of miles of pastureland dedicated to cows in the United States, serving only to sate the appetite of those who were already fortunate. If that land was utilized for crops, imagine how many more mouths it could feed. With this revelation, I knew I could not continue squandering my days as a homogenous carnivorous human being.
It was early one morning on one of the last days in Honduras that my epiphany completed its metamorphosis. Since the start of the missionary journey, a young native girl had grown attached to me, and I to her. Rosanna, a petite girl, with a deeply tanned, frail figure complemented by raven dark hair and adoring eyes, followed me everywhere I went. She had a pet chicken she called “Clucky” and which I cannot pronounce correctly in Spanish. A missionary had been talking about her incredible craving for a McDonald’s chicken sandwich, since our sabbatical was impinging on her former fast-food junkie type diet. Rosanna gazed up at me with widened eyes brimming with confusion and fear.
|"...the knowlege that others in different countries were going hungry, enabled me to grasp the reason of vegetarianism and embrace it wholeheartedly."|
“People eat Cluckies?” she questioned meekly. I explained to her gently that some people do not keep chickens and other deemed farm animals as pets but raise them for substance. She sat down on the dirt of the village slowly, pondering this apparently startling knowledge I had imparted on her with the feeling of great responsibility.
I held her delicate little hand and asked if she wanted me to continue my explanation of the Cluckies and other such animals of the world who find their place on the dinner tables of many households. She shook her head no and blew me away with an astounding account of her opinon on my philosophy.
“I no understand. Clucky is same everywhere,” she began in broken English. “We are like Clucky.
We eat. We sleep. Why would we eat Clucky? He is living too. He is nice. I love Clucky. How can nobody love him too?”
In that afternoon, I sat with her and we held Clucky. Stinky, dirty, pecking Clucky. In my arms was not just a feathered chicken dinner but a breathing, existing animal. And it was beautiful. Every animal, big and small, from the peskiest mosquito to the exotically beautiful peacock, everyone was special and placed on the earth by God. Somehow God knew why each one specifically was important and this greater respect, and the knowlege that others in different countries were going hungy, enabled me to grasp the reason of vegetarianism and embrace it wholeheartedly.
25 April 1998. 7:42 am. Do you ever wake up in the morning and tell yourself, “Today is going to be the day that will change the rest of my life?” I sure don’t. Despite my lack of thought on the subject, this was the day that changed the rest of my life.
I was walking to school with my friend Kristi, and we decided to take a detour off the path and into the woods. The path that leads from our neighborhood to the school diverges in the woods, and we took the rocky path, which led deeper in the woods. After about 5 minutes of our adventure, Kristi looked at her watch in terror and screamed, “We’re going to be late for school! It starts in 10 minutes!” Before I could tell her that I just wanted to go a little bit further, she had turned the other direction and was running back to where the path diverged.
I was left all alone in the woods, feeling abandoned, so I decided I might as well keep going. There was no point in turning back; I was too deeply entrenched in my journey.
Pausing to look at a tree that’s branches and leaves seemed to extend past the sky, I noticed a string that was wound along it, and led along a second path, a tributary to the one I was exploring. In a fit of curiousness, I grabbed hold of the string and started walking.
It was not until I had taken several steps on this path that I realized I was no longer in the woods. I was in a giant room with lots of undistinguishable noise and a rancid smell.
|"My weak body landed on a bed of cow feed, but it did not smell natural. The feed smelled like chemicals. My eyes shut for a moment while I prayed that this was all a dream."|
To my right, I saw my reflection in a mirror. It was tarnished and hazy, but did not hide the scene happening behind me. I saw a grizzly man with a large butcher knife, and a cow being held in place by a metal fence while it bucked and mooed to no end. The knife was raised; it glistened with the spot of sunlight shining from a single window in the ceiling. In the blink of an eye, it was lowered with such precision and speed that the head of the cow dropped to the cement floor with a single thud. My lack of self-restraint caused me to scream in terror, but no sound emerged. I was stunned and silenced by this act of cruel behavior.
My head started spinning and I stumbled back against an open metal gate. It swung open and slammed against the fence, but again, no sound. My weak body landed on a bed of cow feed, but it did not smell natural. The feed smelled like chemicals. My eyes shut for a moment while I prayed that this was all a dream. I slowly opened them to find a small cow bending over me and licking my face.
“Eww!” I screamed as I sat erect and tried to fend off this dirty, yet friendly baby cow. “Get off me!”
“Do you know why you’re here?” The cow asked in a surprisingly deep voice. Confusion consumed me and I was at a lack for words. “You are not here by accident.” It continued, “That string you followed has shown you what I must see every day. That slaughter you just saw, that was my mother. She is no longer of use since she just gave birth. I’m next.”
“But you look so young, how could that be?”
“Oh, you humans are so ignorant. Have you ever heard of veal? It comes from me, a young cow. I am merely 2 weeks old, and I already know the ropes. This feed you landed in, this is what they have been giving me since I could swallow. ‘Eat Less, Grow More.’ That’s what they call it. It’s full of chemicals, but I’m sure you’ve already smelled that by now.”
Again, I closed my eyes and thought, “This has to be a dream.”
A second, more feminine voice replied to my thought. “This is no dream, honey, this is real life.” I spun around to find a herd of cattle behind me.
They started moving closer and closer until I jumped to my feet and started running. As I turned around to see where they were, I hit something hard and fell back to the ground. When I opened my eyes, I looked up to see that same tree I had seen earlier, with leaves and branches that seemed to reach toward the sky. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was back in the woods where I had started.
Thinking I would be late to school, I looked at my watch. I still had 10 minutes! “How could that be?” I thought to myself. I pondered the thought as I walked back to school. I reached my classroom door before the bell rung, and that was the time I decided I was never going to eat meat again.
Since this eye-opening experience, I have been on a meatless diet. The ethical barriers prevent me from ever considering going back to the meat-eating life. I feel so strongly about this that I even went to my school counselor with a proposal for the creation of a vegetarian club. In this proposal, the purpose is,
|“To promote vegetarianism in our school and community, to explore worldly vegetarian cuisine, and to educate all people about the benefits and culinary options.”|
Though the experience with the baby cow may have been simply a dream, it still changed the rest of my life. I am now proud to be meat free.
The Vegetarian Journal published here is not the complete issue, but these are excerpts from the published magazine. Anyone who wishes to see everything should subscribe to the magazine.
Thanks to volunteer Stephanie Schueler for converting this article to HTML.
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