By Jennifer Molidor as posted on
The latest conversion narrative comes from Jennifer Molidor, PhD. She is a staff writer at the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF). I’m very pleased that she sent it to Eating Plants.
In my heart, I’ve always known meat-eating was wrong. When I was child, I wanted to become a “Forest Ranger or Veterinarian or Zookeeper,” because I thought those would be jobs that would let me work with animals. I loved the animals in my life and even the animals in my imagination. When I wasn’t playing with my dog, my bunny, or the neighbor’s kitty, I was creating my own world with my stuffed koala, my teddy bear, my stuffed chimpanzees. And when I read about Jane Goodall, that was who I wanted to be. One by one, however, I gave up on those dreams. Primatology in Africa would require me to be so far from my family. Zoos aren’t very nice places. Veterinarians put animals to sleep. And forest rangers carry guns. And so I became an English teacher.
But nagging in the back of my mind was the knowledge that meat-eating wasn’t right. I visited my family in England when I was in college. I remember we went to a recreated Renaissance village, where they were roasting a sheep, as in olden days, on a spit. Near the spit, at the foot of the dead animal roasting over the flame, was a baby lamb in a basket. I knelt down to pet it, looked up at the humans waiting for their meal, realized that this sad little baby had been placed by its mother’s murdered carcass, and that nobody seemed to see the horrible irony. That was certainly too much for me.
I returned to America, ripped out a bunch of images from PETA and other organizations of undercover factory farm investigations. I put them on my bed, all over my walls, spread them everywhere. I refused to allow myself to leave for four hours. As I worked on my homework, I felt the terror lurking in those images, the torture and the pain, staring at me. I never ate meat again.
I did that because I know the objections to a plant-based diet all too well. “I know all that bad stuff, but meat is so delicious.” My favorite meat was lamb. I knew I needed to let it sink in, to allow the torture, the terror, the grief, the cruelty of what we do to animals to smack-down any selfish resistance. And it worked. Faced with reality, I think it almost always works.
And yet, my journey wasn’t over. For fifteen years I ate a vegetarian diet. Eggs, fish, cheese… those things aren’t that bad, I told myself. And I moved to the Midwest. Many people asked me if chicken counted as vegetarian, or made fun of me. It wasn’t easy being green.
But I always knew in my heart my evolution had slowed its course. I knew that I really wanted to have the courage to be vegan, to live in ways that work hard to best protect animals, help the environment, and encourage others to do the same. But boy I really love cheese… and yogurt, and convenience. I convinced myself that I was doing enough. My own arguments seem so silly to me now.
Two months ago, when I became a writer for the Animal Legal Defense Fund, I knew it was time.
And eggs, fish, cheese? Those things are that bad. My position requires and allows me to see so much that others don’t want to see, and the mass cruelty in the egg and dairy industries are some of the worst. Meanwhile, the environmental degradation we inflict upon our seas and marine life is hidden because it is at such a remove from most of us. But it’s there.
It was time for me to stop consuming any animal product. And I am grateful that I have.
I am excited about the new life and the new diet I’ve taken on. Veganism, really, is more than just a diet, even more than a set of conscious decisions. It is a way of life. And it’s the right one.