2004 Essay Contest Winners
MY NAME IS NURIT. I am eight years old and my favorite animal is a pig. At lunch I used to have people say yuck to what I eat. But I tried to teach them that it really wasn’t yuck! My mates think I only eat carrots and vegetables. I said I don’t just eat carrots and vegetables. So then they started asking me if I eat chocolate and I said yes! But they said chocolate has milk! I said I eat chocolate without milk! Then they asked me if I eat sweets and I said yes! Then they said that sweets are not vegan and I said that not all sweets have dairy in them. Then they asked me if I eat honey and I said no, honey comes from bees. They said I should try some chicken. I said I do not want to eat chicken. They asked why? I said they kill the male chicken to eat because they don’t lay eggs. They asked me why I don’t have hot lunches. I said they don’t have healthy vegan food. I think killing an animal is like killing a human. I think that all the people who eat meat should think about where their piece of meat comes from!
IN MY YOUNGER YEARS, I would visit my A-ma and A-gong (grand-parents) in Taiwan during summer vacations. I would spend entire summers living in Chowchou, which is where my grandparents live. During my stay, my grandparents would proudly show me off to family, friends, neighbors, and whomever else they knew. They would take me to all the places they thought were worth seeing while stuffing me with food. The people of Chowchou were hospitable and every day was an adventure as I, being a curious child, found everything a mystery. Chowchou was indeed great, but in my opinion, there was one flaw to it—the markets. What I witnessed in the market is the reason I am a vegetarian today.
These types of markets were far from what I was accustomed to in America and far from what any foreigner would expect. I was so used to the local Albertson’s and Safeway that an outdoor market was extremely bizarre. These markets are filthy, with flies hovering over the foods and cockroaches hiding in the crevasses awaiting nighttime. The markets are outdoors, under the sweltering sun, and it seems like every type of bacteria owns at least one square foot of property there.
One scorching afternoon, my grandmother took me to buy lunch, and as soon as I stepped into the market, I noticed all sorts of animals caged up or trapped in barrels too small for their size. I didn’t know what they were doing there, so I ignored it. Then I noticed a loud middle-aged woman walk to a stand not too far from where my grandmother and I stood. I saw her point to a beautiful brown chicken with glossy feathers from one of the dirty gray cages. I thought she wanted it as a pet, but I was wrong. The vender yanked out the chicken and mumbled something in Taiwanese, the alien language everyone spoke in the city. My eyes remained on the chicken the entire time, when suddenly, the vender began brutally plucking the feathers off the adorable creature. The chicken began squawking loudly. Its wings attempted to flap furiously, but the vender constrained it viciously. Then the vender cold-heartedly broke the chicken’s neck and stuffed it into a pot of boiling water. Traumatized by such cruel actions, tears slowly filled my eyes. I froze. It felt as if I could hear the chicken scream and beg for another chance.
|"The vendor broke the chicken's neck and stuffed it into a pot of boiling water... It felt as if I could hear it scream and beg for another chance."|
My grandmother called my name when she realized I wasn’t walking beside her. She told me to keep walking, but it seemed as if my feet were glued to the pavement with cement. When my legs finally began working again, I looked around and began to notice further acts of cruelty. I saw the many dour executioners dispersed around the market wearing aprons stained with crimson blood, holding cleavers that seemed bigger than I was at the time. I saw the murder of many helpless fish and the boiling of frogs, turtles, lobsters, and crabs. I saw severed pig, chicken, and cow heads along with their innards displayed on the stands. My heart raced, and I felt such sorrow for the animals. At a young age, I realized that it wasn’t fair for the animals to lose their lives strictly for the enjoyment of people. The entire time at the market, I could hear the cries of the animals and, since that day at the market, I thought about what I ate and what the animals thought before they were heartlessly put to death.
When I returned to my grandmother’s home, I couldn’t even look at anything that my grandmother had bought for lunch. The food that once appealed to me no longer held the same space after witnessing how it got there. From that day on, I never ate meat without thinking about how the animals had suffered to provide food for me.
When I was around twelve and a half, I made my official decision to become a vegetarian. I told my parents it was time for me to stop promoting the cruelty towards animals. They were neither pleased nor displeased by my conclusion, but I felt so strongly about my belief, that no one could have stopped me anyway.
Ever since that one trip to Taiwan so many years ago, I have grown dramatically. The experience of watching the butchers slaughter the animals has changed me from feeling sorry for the animals to feeling compassion for all types of living organisms. From that point on, I learned to treat everyone (even small insects) as beings with feelings as fragile as ours. I believe that experiencing the choking display of murders that day and becoming a vegetarian has made me evolve to be more considerate and open-minded about every type of person and animal.
When people ask me, “Isn’t it hard living without meat?,” I realize that I couldn’t begin to imagine myself eating meat. It would be difficult for me knowing that in part, I was the murderer. I also realize that there are so many more benefits of being a vegetarian over a meat eater. Not only has it taught me to be a better person, it has made me more aware of all living creatures rather than just humans who may think they are superior to all living creatures. Being a vegetarian is definitely a big part of me.
ANNUAL ESSAY CONTEST RULES
To enter VRG’s annual essay contest, just write a 2-3 page essay on any aspect of vegetarianism or veganism. There are three entry categories: age 14-18, age 9-13, and age 8 and under. A $50 savings bond will be awarded in each category.
All entries must be postmarked by May 1, 2005, for the year 2005 contest. Entrants should base their entries on interviews, personal experience, research, and/or personal opinion. You need not be vegetarian to enter. All essays become property of The Vegetarian Resource Group. Winners will be notified by September 2005. Only winners will be notified.
Send entries to:
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