My 13-yo daughter wrote the following speech to give to her 8th grade English class. While I continue to eat (guiltily) eat meat, I am extremely proud of her.
In 2014, 30,170 innocent cows were brutally murdered in slaughterhouses, for YOU to eat your steak, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. 8,666,662 little chickens were slaughtered for your chicken nuggets. 106,876 sweet, adorable pigs were killed for your bacon. You may not care, to you animals may simply be meaningless, their only purpose being your food. But they’re not. Why are some animals okay to eat, and not others? Why would you happily eat a pig, or cow, but the thought of eating a cat or dog is terrible?
In 2014, I stopped eating meat. 6-9 months before that I had stopped eating all meat except chicken. I honestly have no clue why I thought it was alright to eat to eat chicken. But, I did stop. Why did I stop eating chicken? A Bones episode. It depicted a warehouse full of chickens, each of them given less than a foot of space to live. It depicted baby chicks getting their beaks cut off, because when they got older, they’d fight each other, from the stress of not having any room to live. I don’t know if what they showed was true, I haven’t had the heart to research it, not wanting to think about what was truly going on. It was at that moment that I decided I couldn’t stomach the idea of forcing an animal to go through that, so I could eat something, I really didn’t need. The idea of their lives having to end, for them to have to stop existing, for a hamburger or chicken nugget.
I don’t think it was hard to become a vegetarian, maybe it was because I hadn’t eaten cow, or pig in so long, maybe it was because I truly believed that it was just wrong and cruel to eat the carcass of a deceased animal. I think what was harder, was learning later on that there are things I didn’t know about that contain meat. Gelatin is in marshmallows and gummies, it’s made from boiling the tendons, ligaments, bones, and skin of pigs or cows. Lard is pig fat, it’s in a lot of Mexican food, being used to make quesadillas and refried beans. Truthfully, I didn’t know at the beginning, and I’m still finding out about new things that I can’t eat. If you want to count me actually becoming a vegetarian by when I stopped eating gelatin, or lard, fine by me. But I count it as when I decided it was wrong to.
I’m not trying to turn you into a vegetarian, because I know it won’t work. I think I mostly just think everyone should understand what these innocent creatures have to go through for you to eat something, many of you take for granted. And if you start to question your ways, that’s just fabulous.
It’s been four years since I got Mika (now 9 1/2 yo) an Easy Bake Oven (a model which has been recalled since). When I first got it, and for years afterwards, the kids had little interest on it. The mixes were boring, the portions too small and it took too long to make them. We did go through all the mixes that came with the oven, but after that we put the oven away. Indeed, if I wasn’t so lazy I would have sent it back when they had the recall.
But I’ve come to learn that a toy that doesn’t interest a child when you get it, can really interest them years later. A couple of days ago we went to the 99-cents only store and found a bunch of Easy Bake Oven mixes for, well, 99-cents each. These are the full size packages, each containing about 4 mixes (each of which makes enough for one cookie-size recipe). While 99-cents for the equivalent of 4 cookies may seem expensive, these packages usually retail for $6 to $10! Mika saw them, wanted them so I bought a couple of packages. She knew exactly where the Easy Bake Oven was (in the garage, I think) and somehow we managed to find the necessary tools that went with it, so she went ahead and made the brownies. She needed a little help putting the pan inside the oven – it’s a bit tricky – but she got the hang of it and it went well. Well, not great, because she did not put the timer so the brownie came out too dry, but well enough. Cookies are next in the menu.
If she (or Camila) show more interest I may go back to the 99-cents store and get more mixes, at that price they can’t be beat. But I daresay they’ll get bored with it again pretty soon.