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Personal Essay - Veganism

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A girl that has the perfect shade of red hair, which always becomes ten shades darker after she finishes putting in all of her hair product in the morning, is standing in a room with me. Curls spiral all the way down to the center of her back. “Why should animals, that are bred to move only a few feet in the lifetime, die so I can eat? There's a better way Alex. That’s why I am a vegan,” Allison explains, careful not to come off like she is somehow better than me because of this. She could convince a man that’s five foot eleven standing next to a tape measure that they are both five foot nine. She looks straight into my eyes with concern as she elaborates that “The meat industry is the largest polluter in the world, is responsible for the disappearing rain forests and the destruction of other ecosystems across the world.” Allison is the type of person that always seems to be right. This may be because she never seems to run out of facts to support her claims. Whether or not these 'facts' are true or not is a completely different matter. However, everything she says about veganism can be corroborated with actual evidence. I know this because I have seen people foolish enough to argue with her about this. Many people had assumed that since she was my girlfriend she was always trying to convince me to become a vegetarian too, however this was never the case.

“Alex, close your eyes and tell me if this tastes like tuna fish,” Allison said excitedly.

“Uh, what? You have to at least tell me what I am going to eat first. Would you trust me to feed you something with your eyes closed while I ask you if it tastes like tuna fish?” I responded with a chuckle.

“No, because it probably would be REAL tuna fish! Its just crushed chick peas and nayonnaise (vegan mayonnaise). I swear it tastes just like tuna,” Allison replied as if I was opposed to trying new types of foods.” And of course it did taste like tuna fish, just like she said it would. Before I became a vegan, she always thought that I was against eating vegan food, however I would always eat the same food as her, while I was around her anyways.

On our anniversary, once again before I was a vegan, I planned a complete vegan picnic. I had attempted to make, by myself, hummus and French fries, her two favorite foods. On the internet, I researched how to make hummus and I decided upon a recipe that called for a lot of cilantro. This was a bad idea.

“What is that Alex?” she asked not realizing how rude she sounded. She had pointed to a green substance that I had just scraped out of the blender.

“Hummus, or at least it’s supposed to be,” I laughed.

I explained to her that I never actually saw hummus and that the recipe told me to blend cilantro in with the chickpeas, which is what caused it took look like I blended up some grass. This is, ironically, exactly what my dad thinks vegan food is. Luckily he didn't see my concoction. Allison bravely tried the French fries and the hummus before I did. “Good French fries Alex!” Allison said optimistically.

Eight months after meeting Allison, I was finally convinced. I stopped eating meat. However I continued to eat dairy, which meant that I was only a vegetarian, not a vegan. In case if I couldn't go through with it for long, I waited two weeks before I told Allison. When I did, she began tapping the tips of her fingers together, like a villain in a cheesy action movie. “I knew you would,” she said trying to act like she had been secretly trying to convince me. This was undoubtedly, the most important decision in my life. It had been a surprisingly easy transition, considering that I had grown up with a Dad that loved barbecuing.

I had felt enlightened by this change in heart because by becoming a vegetarian, it changed my entire perspective on life. Now, every time I sit down to eat something I am making a decision to better the world. Because of this decision, I save one hundred lives each year. Nine months prior, I would not have considered this saving lives but a ridiculous concept that only hippies have. I had a preconceived notion of what a vegetarian was: a bony and irrational liberal with a red paint bucket, ready to pour it over someone wearing a fur coat. I was an overweight conservative with a passion for football; quite the opposite of what I had pictured.

I was in the kitchen, looking for something to eat, when my Dad, who looks almost like a lumberjack because he always wears blue jeans and a plaid shirt, takes an enormous rack of ribs out of the freezer. He has a full beard but neatly combed hair. Only a few remnants of his original black hair color contrast the sea of gray. His otherwise muscular frame is offset by a large beer belly. Most people would consider my Dad to be the exact opposite of a vegetarian. He keeps a large stockpile of meat in the freezer. So much so that when Allison first saw it she described it as a butcher’s shop.

Every night, without fail, he cooks some sort of meat on the barbecue. In fact, on occasion a few of my friends would come over, unannounced, because they knew that he would be making something soon and he would be more than happy to cook them dinner.

“Hungry for some ribs tonight, Alex?” my Dad asks me.

“Naw, thanks though.”

“What? You don’t like my cooking?” my Dad says jokingly.

“No, it’s not that. I am going to stop eating meat,” I say quietly.

“Oh, so Allison got to you didn’t she?” he says confidently.

“No, it’s not her Dad,” I respond while he shoots me a look where you can tell he doesn’t believe me.

“Alright, Alex.”

My Dad was very surprised that I had become a vegan and it took him a lot of getting used to. He would continually offer to cook me some sort of meat, almost like he was trying to give me chances to go back to eating meat without having to hide it. He was convinced that this was only a short phase because my sister, who is twenty-four, had claimed that she would never eat meat again. She lasted three weeks before my Dad saw her eating



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