Why Did You Go Vegetarian Contest
Ever since I was a small child, I have had
a great respect for animals, and I’ve always
felt that they were loving and intelligent
beings. It wasn’t until I stumbled across
PETA’s Web site that I started to make the
connection between my companion animal best
friends and the pork chop on my plate. I
couldn’t believe the horrifying and appalling
cruelty [that] animals go through before
they [arrive] at my table. After a few months
of trying to forget what I knew and saw,
I just woke up one day and cut out the meat.
It was as simple as the fact that animals
shouldn’t suffer and die for my taste buds!
that I’ve been vegan for some time, I’m
reaping the benefits; I no longer am troubled
by terrible skin problems or serious stomach
illnesses, and I just have a healthier body!
I’m also quickly and easily losing weight,
which I very much need to lose.
vegan has completely changed my outlook
on life, and it all started with opening
up my mind a little.
became a vegetarian at the age of 13, after
spending the summer with my grandma and
grandpa at their beef farm in Eastern Pennsylvania.
few days after my arrival there, a cow died
giving birth to twin calves, one male and
one female. My grandpa named them after
me and my cousin Adam, who was also staying
there for the summer. We raised those calves
for three months, teaching them how to drink
from a bucket, bathing them, and playing
with them. They are such smart animals!
My calf would play tag with me, I would
run as fast as I could around the field,
and she would run after me and butt me with
her head when she caught me. I spent hours
every day with her—she had become my best
friend. When the summer ended, and I had
to go back to my father’s house to start
school, I cried for days because I couldn’t
take my namesake with me.
didn’t get to visit my grandparents’ farm
again until the following summer. When I
got there, first thing, I ran to the main
barn to find my cow, whom I hadn’t seen
in a year. Not being able to find her, I
ran to the house, where my grandfather was
sitting at the table, eating his lunch.
I asked him where my cow was, and with a
silent answer, he pointed to the fridge.
began to scream and cry. I told him he was
a murderer. Later that day, when my tears
couldn’t come anymore, I realized what a
horror the meat industry was and saw for
the first time that, quite like the Smiths
song, meat was murder. I haven’t eaten meat
been 13 years since that time. I’m now married
and have two children, and we are all vegan.
My children love heckling anyone they see
at the grocery store buying meat. They’ll
say things such as, “Ew! You’re buying that?
Don’t you know that is DEAD COW?!” And other
times, they’ll just look at people buying
hamburger and go, “MOOO.” I get quite a
bit of grief from people for raising my
family vegetarian, but it is so worth it.
I much prefer to hang out with my animal
brethren than [to] eat them. And my family
is all the healthier for it.
had been struggling for a long time with
vegetarianism. Being a high-school football
player, I bought into the stereotype of
massive meat-munching. But even then, I
kind of felt bad about eating animals because
I loved my pets so much. Eventually, my
diet caught up with me, making me, well
… FAT. Two hundred and eighty pounds later,
I decided to give up meat, telling my friends,
“Oh, it’s only for weight loss.” I was scared
to admit that I actually felt bad about
eating animals. Lacking the courage of my
convictions, I wavered back and forth for
a few years—that is, until the day Petunia
we couldn’t have a dog in our apartment,
my girlfriend and I got a rat. Petunia was
the sweetest little thing I had ever seen.
We became instant friends, and I loved that
little girl like nothing I had loved before.
As I read more about rats, I discovered
that they need companionship. This was a
wonderful excuse to get another rat, my
beautiful Clara. Petunia and Clara became
buddies, even if Petunia beat Clara up sometimes.
a long and fun while, Petunia developed
a respiratory problem. She hardly moved,
just lying on top of Clara most of the day.
Usually Clara was a really active rat, but
she just let Petunia lie on her, like she
knew something was wrong. In her last days,
I let Petunia lie on my arm, just breathing
slowly. One day, I came home from work and
Petunia climbed up the cage to greet me.
I thought she was improving. But a few minutes
later, she started gagging and coughing.
There was nothing I could do. I watched
her die right there. Clara was so scared
that I had to pull her out of the cage and
hold her. It was one of the hardest things
to do in my life to pick up my little friend,
put her in a box, and bury her.
the way Clara was so gentle with Petunia
during her last … week of life made me really
think. But what really solidified it for
me was the way that Clara acted after Petunia’s
death. She was just limp, lifeless, depressed.
I could tell that she was sad. It was so
obvious that I immediately went out to buy
her a new friend. It took a while, but eventually
Clara got over it, with the help of her
new friend, Peanut. From that day on, I
knew deep in my heart that even the smallest
animals have just as much emotion and feelings
as we humans do. I have never touched a
bit of animal meat since, and I am taking
steps to become fully vegan.
dedicate my choice for a compassionate lifestyle
to the memory of my beloved Petunia and
to all the animals and humans who face suffering
each day. Every personal act of thoughtful
love and empathy is another step toward
a kinder world.
I can remember, I have always had an extremely
strong bond with animals. I had an abusive
childhood, and the only time I can recall
feeling safe was when I was around an animal.
I simply feel closer to them, more comfortable;
I can relate to animals much easier than
I can to people.
I was in fifth grade, I decided that I didn’t
want to eat meat anymore. Surprisingly,
I had a teacher that year who was a vegetarian.
After school one day, she gave me a book
about factory farms that opened my eyes
to the horrors of a world so violent, so
far from the idyllic farms children believe
cows and chickens live on that I ran from
the classroom to vomit. It was a difficult
transition, [because] a lot of my family
believes that “that’s what animals are for”
(eating). But, I couldn’t stand the fact
that every time I saw a cow, a chicken,
a fish, or a pig, they were seen as nothing
more than “animals,” that when they were
babies, everyone oohed and ahhed but then
went to eat a hamburger or a chicken nugget.
I didn’t understand how you could take the
life of an innocent animal just so you could
put it in your mouth. I was vegetarian for
about six years but then gave up. I forgot
about the pain that animals endure just
to wind up as food, and I was tired of being
made fun of or nagged at during every meal.
about a year ago, I decided to become vegan.
I knew that I had been making the wrong
choice for over four years and that I was
never going to make that decision ever again.
Since then, I’ve converted many people to
a vegan or vegetarian diet, handed out leaflets,
and shown countless videos. I really feel
that people need to constantly be aware
of what animals go through because, after
so long, you really forget that the hunk
of meat on your plate used to be alive,
it used to enjoy the same things people
Jackie Wood, Illinois
dad worked at a slaughterhouse, and I wasn’t
aware until I was 10 or 11 what it was he
actually did. He let me accompany him to
work one day over the summer, and the sight
that met my eyes I will never forget. Although
I never saw the actual killing, the cries
from the animals cut through the air and
have haunted me ever since. That day I went
home and told [my] mom I never wanted to
eat anything that had been killed again.
now been 30 years, and I’ve never regretted
my decision and have even convinced my mom
and several friends to go vegan. Every living
creature on this planet deserves to live
out their life fully and free from the threat
of untimely death.