I feel that the weeks are going by faster and faster as my vegan lifestyle becomes routine! However, being vegan in college is completely new to me. At home, my family never ate much meat. But now, I see enormous tubs of meat in the dining halls and people carrying plates full of it. It is almost ironic to watch students happily eating the flesh of tortured beings while smiling, laughing, and joking. As I watch my peers down animal products like it is nothing, I feel conflicted inside. Part of me wants to tell them about the where this disembodied flesh came from. But another part of me wants to keep quiet and avoid conflict, fearing being stereotyped as a crazed vegan. And this second part of me has been winning lately.
For one thing, I just arrived at college little over a week ago. All of these people are strangers to me. But I feel like that is an excuse to remain silent. I had plenty of opportunities to say something this week. One evening, my table mates were conversing about their favorite seafood. Another day, an acquaintance expressed her excitement about the dining hall serving pork shoulder, a dish her family made at home. In both of these situations, I could have chosen to speak up. I could have mentioned that for every pound of shrimp on your plate, twenty pounds of other marine life were caught and discarded. I could have explained that a meal is not worth a lifetime of pain and suffering. Or that animals’ flesh and excretions do not belong to us. All of these things were on my mind, itching to come out. But instead, I sat there quietly, uncomfortably picking at whatever plants I chose to make my dinner that night.
Before I came to college, I thought I would be extremely vocal about the vegan truth. I thought I wouldn’t care whether people disliked me or found me annoying because of it. But now, I almost don’t want to talk about it with others. I feel afraid and unsure of what to say, almost hiding this part of me I feel passionate about.
Every moment of every day, someone is traveling to a slaughterhouse and enduring the most cruel, terrifying, and painful experience imaginable. This week, I want to speak up for them. It doesn’t have to be a lecture. It doesn’t have to be a full blown debate. I just want to say something. Maybe I will mention how delicious the dining hall’s almond milk or veggie burgers are. Or maybe I will ask my companions if they have ever wondered what it would be like to be an animal in a slaughterhouse. My fear to bring up a potentially upsetting topic does not compare to the sheer terror millions of animals are experiencing right this moment. If I keep silent, this horrifying cruelty will never end.