Here is the definition of the word bully: "A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker." Many of us know firsthand what it's like to be bullied. We know what it's like to be vulnerable and scared, and to have that be taken advantage of. I never considered animals to be a part of that equation.
Then, a few years ago, a random discussion on a talk show led me to research factory farming, a practice that produces 99 percent of the animals we consume in the U.S. I not only read about the horrors of these places, but, thanks to countless undercover investigation videos posted online, I saw them. I saw baby calves being screamed at and punched in the face by desensitized farm workers. I saw turkeys being kicked and thrown against walls until their wings broke. A saw a baby pig having its head bashed in with a brick. These poor animals were being abused, tormented, and killed by merciless beings many times their size. They were being bullied.
Even though I was never in situations this extreme growing up gay, many LGBT people are. They are regularly verbally abused, physically assaulted, and even killed. And while there undoubtedly is a difference between people and animals, the question must be asked: when it comes to things such as fear, pain, and suffering, aren't animals much more like us than they are not like us?
I know we all love a good burger or turkey sandwich, but isn't our consumption of these foods perpetuating the power-hungry and cruel attitudes we so strongly oppose? Is it really such a stretch to ask that all those who feel be liberated from the suffering caused by bullying? Because whether you want to admit it or not, that's precisely what it is. This realization, subconscious at the time, led me to become a vegan. By choosing to avoid animal foods, I feel I'm sending a strong message that I won't be a party to bullying in any form.
I know it's difficult to imagine giving up some of your favorite foods (you'll discover new ones, trust me) but I invite you to learn the truth about where those foods come from. Really think about it. Sit with it. Be honest with yourself. Does knowing that you pay other people to treat animals this way feel good in your soul?
A brilliant writer, Laura Moretti, once said this about animals:
Animals are the most victimized living creatures on earth; more than children, more than women, more than people of color. Our prejudice enables us to exploit and use them, as scientific tools and expendable commodities, and to eat them. We do to them any atrocity our creative minds can summon. We justify our cruelties; we have to or we can't commit them.
Chew on that.