I must confess: I'm not a vegan. Although I have though about making the switch frequently. I have been a proud vegetarian since I was in first grade. I tell this story and many people laugh at me or shake their heads or just smile at the amazing moral person I have always been since the ripe out age of six. Back when most people couldn't even tie their own shoes...
I was a typical Generation X kid. I was fasinated by the new fad: light up sneakers, a pair of which I owned, which in the 1990s was a coveted treasure. Unlike today, when they are a dime a dozen and my three year old niece loves them, just as I did as a child, but sees them everywhere. I downed copiuous amounts of pepperoni, apparently my meat fetish back when I ate meat, as a four or five year old at my uncle's wedding. I drew curlycue curvise in my Lisa Frank pink and purple and animal themed notebooks. And was, as much as a six year old can be, an avid and aspiring animal rights advocate.
Then, disaster struck, in the form of the newest "children's" movie: Babe. Well most people my age remember a darling, talking show pig who narrowly escapes being slaughtered by a farm family, I confess I never mentally or emotionally made it past that first scene. This is the scene if you don't remember or have never seen the movie: where Babe's mother is brought into the slaughterhouse to be killed and harvested for her meat. They don't show the actual slaughter, this is a CHILDREN's movie, remember, but as an avid observer and future English major, I understood the implications and infered what was going to happen next, if they'd kept the camera rolling. And I was six and horrified and tramatized. And the idea of where meat came from had never occured to me before. It just materialized cooked on my plate at the dining room table. A product of my mother's cooking magic preformed in the kitchen whose shows I peeked at behind the curtain and helped with at any moment that I could. Until that day, when nothing was ever the same again.
Meat wasn't tasty magic anymore. It was cruel and unusual punishment. A moral impretive demanded I never touch the stuff, let alone digest it, ever again. And so, when we sat down to dinner that night, I asked my mother, if what the movie portrayed was true. Yes she told me, that is where meat comes from. That is what meat is. I stared over at the hash she'd prepared as part of our meal (something I would later take to calling dog food for its appearance and smell) and shook my head. When she offered it to me I was more adamant. No, I told her, I'm never eating meat again.
And, I never have.