I was born vegan.
However in early childhood (like so many of my fellow humans) society, family members, and institutional pressures attempted to rip my compassion from my grasp and condition me to ignore the harm being done to my animal friends by trying to confuse things with euphemisms and falsehoods about supposed "norms".
When I was four-years-old, in response to being told we were to have "lamb chops" for dinner, I inquired why a food would be called such a thing, as surely, no one would be silly or heartless enough to try to eat an actual lamb. My parents looked at each other, and then I seem to remember my father taking the lead to explain that this was actually the case; not like a cartoon or a puppet from a show, but an actual lamb, like the ones that we often visited at an area petting zoo.
I flew through Kübler-Ross's five stages of grief and, as I still recall, felt a lingering sense of betrayal at the horrific reality that anyone, let alone my own family would have knowingly gone along with such heartless practices. I went vegetarian a little over a year later with the support of my mother, but I look back on what were important moments in my early childhood, and I wish there had been some sort of instant vegan support chat (akin to a Challenge22 personal mentor) that would have just popped up to help explain that I would be fine, despite my father's hesitations, and that I could take my consuming drive to protect those that cannot protect themselves even further by becoming a vegan, and an activist (I was born in the early eighties, so these technologies had not yet been properly realised).
Then, one day I was minding my own business as a longtime vegetarian and I wound up caught in a little traffic snarl, when a truck pulled up in the lane beside me.
I felt someone looking in my direction well before I turned my head to see a startlingly soulful pair of eyes surrounded by beautiful wispy eyelashes, gazing at me inquisitively.
With crushing horror, the realisation smashed through whatever cognitive dissonance remained in my head as my heart shattered instantly.
The truck was transporting pigs to be murdered for their flesh, cartilage, bones, and whatever else could be stripped from the bodies of these innocent intelligent creatures being taken to their deaths for the profit those who line their pockets with torture and oppression.
I was a mess (picture the crying/runny nose scene from the Blair Witch Project), and then, in the blink of a teary eye, the truck pulled away, before I could convince the driver to flee the authorities with me and save those precious suffering souls.
Once I had blown my nose (a lot) and tried to calm down as much as possible, I headed directly to a grocery store to arm myself with some of the tools I would need to embark on the rest of my life, as well as plant-based ingredients for dinner. My first intentionally vegan meal was pizza (in a happy coincidence, Vegan Pizza Day fell just days after my big vegan epiphany, though I didn't know it at the time) and it was just after consuming what turned out to be a totally passable pie, that I broke the news to my then-partner, who went from an occasional omni (already used to my meat-free shenanigans) to a full-on ethical vegan some months after I made the switch, & when we last chatted some years ago, he was still going strong.
Those fleeting seconds in traffic beside a slaughterhouse transport truck comprised one of the hardest moments of my life, and while I am so grateful to have been struck by vegan lightning, I (like mostly everyone who experiences compassion without limitations) only wish it had happened sooner.
Today could be your day.
You could decide to stop paying for the atrocities that happen behind slaughterhouse walls.
Vote with your choices. Peace can begin with you. Three times a day we can make it clear that we are only willing to support compassionate practices that will help sustain our one and only home, along with those we share it with. If we collectively remove the demand for cruelty, those that have become wealthy by supplying it, will find new ways to stay in business.
Be a hero to those who's cries most often go unheard in the longest lived holocaust in the history of this planet.
Be the change.
Wear the Cape. (tights are optional)