Gather ’round, boys and girls, it’s storytime!
The year is 1995. The setting is Santa Cruz, California. Four-year-old Jessica is sitting on the couch in the living room, watching a PBS special about lions whilst going to town on a hot dog. Suddenly, the happy-go-lucky zebra who had been prancing about on the screen a second earlier was brutally attacked by a lion and reduced to a bloody carcass on the plains, and four-year-old Jessica freaked out.
Now, this in itself didn’t bother me so much–I had already seen The Lion King a couple hundred times, so I knew about the circle of life and the food chain and all that.
What bothered me what the realization that just like the zebra, my hot dog used to be an animal, moving around on its own volition, and now it was a dead hunk of meat in my hand. (But of course I didn’t know the word “volition.”)
It’s 20 years later, and I haven’t purposefully eaten a chunk of meat since (shoutout to the lotus leaf wrap I accidentally ate in a buffet line in Vegas on my 21st birthday because the signs were switched and it said there was just rice inside).
People give me grief about it, and although sometimes it can be a little difficult navigating what I can and can’t eat when there’s a language barrier, traveling as a vegetarian is easier than you would think.