She's Vegan

I hid in my bedroom at the front of the house, far away from your earsplitting squeals echoing throughout our backyard.

In the 70’s, people could purchase live poultry for public or private use. My uncles set out in the early morning and brought you home. The knives came out, literally, but you weren’t going down without a fight.  You broke free of their grips as they heaved you onto your back. Running for your life, your frenzied zigzagging across the yard infuriated everyone. There was no way out, no exit, no escape. They seized you with a blow to the head, pinning you down and roping your feet together. I left the murder scene.

It was my cousin’s wedding and apart from the elaborate multi-tiered wedding cake, you were the second most important centre-piece. People would line up for a piece of you. Drooling in the queue, eyeing a piece they’d request when it was there turn to take some.

“Go and eat,” my mother encouraged.

I piled my plate with boiled green bananas, crispy coleslaw and palusami: a delightful mixture of taro leaves, onions and coconut cream.

“Go get some,” my mother instructed, pointing at you, displayed across a white linen covered table adorned with red and pink hibiscus flowers like a butcher’s art installation.

I avoided looking at you; just as I did during rock-climbing at school camps when my inner voice would be screaming, don’t look down!

But I looked. My heart cried in a room full of joy and laughter. I walked over to you, jumping the queue as a woman protested. I didn’t care. I didn’t want what she wanted.

I was glad your eyes were closed. You wouldn’t see the terrible things that’d happened to your body. I leaned over and kissed your severed head. “I’m sorry.”

The same woman shrieked, “Look at that crazy girl.”

My red-faced mother grabbed my arm with the force of a lion seizing its prey and dragged me to a nearby dining table. One of my green bananas toppled onto the floor as the queue laughed at my clumsy arrest. My mother, on the other hand, was about to burst into flames. Thrusting me onto a chair, she threatened, “Sit here and stay out of trouble.”

Stay of trouble meant; stop publicizing your empathy for the suffering of innocent animals. I grew up staying out of trouble, suppressing my empathy until one day in adulthood, our paths crossed. You were in a farm shed, tightly confined in a metal crate while your babies struggled to latch onto your leaking nipples. You unsettled the disconnect within me. Never again, will I be unconscious in my life. You are the reason I am Vegan. And I love being in trouble!

Happy World Vegan Month. Forever November!

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