My story of eating animals starts with a plate of rice, beans, and ground beef. This is what I would usually have for lunch after school when my grandmother would pick me up. I was never infatuated with the idea that meat is the best part of a meal like the industrialized food industry likes to perpetuate in the form of slabs of steak being sold as luxurious and ground beef burgers thought of as a treat as shown by Pollan. At the age of 11 I decided to stop drinking milk against the “Got Milk?” campaign plastered in school. There was no ethical reason behind this, I just considered it gross which isn’t far-fetched and, in a way, I broke away from the oppressive tendencies of large corporations that take advantage of large populations of minorities by perpetuating consumption of unhealthy foods.
While consuming meat I was an unconscious consumer living in a society that is over-saturated with advertisements for eating meat/dairy in forms like teachings in schools to our youth and what has been created to be the norm in our culture. At the age of 16 I started interning at an animal hospital that indirectly led to my choice to become vegan reaching the age of 17. No one at the time I started interning there was vegan until one day, a man with floral tattoos down his arms and glasses with such an intense prescription his eyes looked ten-times the size they actually were showed up. He was a veterinary technician, married to a lawyer who he would soon move-out to California with, and a vegan. Over the course of one-hour lunch breaks he opened my perspective to a new side of meat consumption, the ethical side.
Long story short, he didn’t push the lifestyle on me, but I decided to do my own research like Foer had done. I started to feel a deep guilt when I would eat animals and my breaking point of excusing it happened during my first time assisting in a surgery. It was a tumor removal on a dachshund and I literally lent a hand holding back tissue and fat. As I stared at this dachshund’s tumor and all the organs that were keeping him alive I couldn’t continue to maintain this boundary between the animals I eat and my cat at home or the pets I would help take care of. As I stood there I realized the taste of animals was no longer an excuse for eating them and then the doctor nicked a vein and blood splattered across my face.
Compassion and happiness are important values that my mother raised me on and that is why I interned at the animal hospital, to help animals and pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Every doctor I worked with at the animal hospital expressed the fact that their career choice wasn’t for material wealth but out of their unquenchable thirst for compassion. I am so excited to visit the farm sanctuary which practices compassion everyday taking care of the animals they rescued. I already know about the hideous practices of the animal food industry and to be honest I can’t look pictures like that, I feel the same way I do when I see pictures of human rights violations— disgust and deep sadness. Instead I looked at the pictures of the animals they have in their care which just made me think, why isn’t this normal?
Written by Anamaria Flores, Class of 2021