The Vegan No
Articles Reflecting a Vegan Lifestyle From All-Creatures.org

Vegan lifestyle articles that discuss ways of living in peace with humans, animals, and the environment.

FROM Kimberly O'Campo, VLCE, MainStreetVegan.net
June 2021

No, I donít want beans with pork and cheese.... No, I donít want grilled chicken.... No, I donít want grilled chicken.... No, I donít want grilled chicken....

no thanks I'm vegan

Another party: fond greetings, loud music, and the yells and laughter of children finding entertainment in running around couches. And here comes the other constant: ďWe have chicken, frijoles puercos, tamalesÖ,Ē my aunt says. ďI know you donít normally eat these things, but I think this once, for a special occasion, wonít hurt you. You should really try the cake. Itís delicious.Ē Itís intended as a casual suggestion, but it prompts a mental monolog.

No, I donít want beans with pork and cheese. Because when I was four, the very aunt standing beside me had a puppy, and I inspected his little body and noticed he had ribs, a spine, and joints just like mine. So what if our limbs were arranged differently? Our physical and habitual similarities were much more evident and important. On every farm field trip after, I recognized the same bone structure on pigs and wondered what else we had in common, wishing I could stay and make friends with them all.

Grandpa

No, I donít want grilled chicken. Because another aunt had a chick when I was seven. My second day knowing this chick, I had her in my room while I did homework and would pick her up when she chirped, marveling at the abundant life and energy in a creature smaller than my hand. Someone took her from me, and not ten minutes later, when I went outside to get her back, I heard she had been stepped on. No one knew by whom. She lay on my momís palm as people walked by saying how unfortunate the situation was. I placed a hand on her head, praying it was possible to convey in a touch that she was more than just an unfortunate case. And that I loved her; I was so sorry for not knowing how to mend her bones, but I would stay with her until her final chirp and remember her life for the rest of mine. Someone gave me a ham sandwich to make me feel better, and I couldnít understand how no one around me was connecting the death they had just witnessed to the death on all our plates.

No, I donít want tamales filled with cheese. Because I spent years telling my friends and family I wanted to be a vegetarian. I didnít have knowledge to counter the ďmeat gives you proteinĒ argument; I just knew I had no right to benefit by anotherís death. Those protein arguments lost all credibility in eighth grade science class. ďMs. Parker, are you vegetarian?Ē a student asked. ďNo,Ē she answered, ďIím vegan, which means I donít eat any animal products.Ē Thatís when my world changed. I still didnít understand protein, but Ms. Parker was intelligent and energetic without inconveniencing any animal. I promised myself I would get there one day.

Cow and Calf

No, a good cake doesnít matter. Because I remember my high school years too clearly; eating recommended portion sizes and rarely feeling full or satisfied, resenting myself for being too hungry to be thin and pretty, then standing in the restroom to gauge just how bloated lunch had made me. But something about going vegan, the autonomy of making a difference and a statement with every meal, has given me the drive and confidence to seek fulfillment in the rest of my life. I donít remember the last time I wished to look like someone else. Iím having too much fun going to music festivals and posing with the Miyokoís Creamery cows at Vegan Fashion Week, all the while fueled by delicious calories that didnít cost an animalís well-being. [Walk the moon] [Cow] In living according to my values, I found the joy that allows me to love myself as I deserve.

But I canít condense all this into a couple sentences, so I just say, ďNo, thank you. I brought snacks.Ē Itís a no that asks for understanding and peace, a no that is a triumphant smile to that determined eighth grader and a much-needed hug for the seventeen-year-old in oversized sweaters. Itís an apology to that baby chick, to the truck full of pigs we drove by on Memorial Day weekend, and to every life lost in the human narrative of superiority. And itís a promise. The world isnít vegan, but I can start with myself, and Iíll spend the rest of my life working to establish respect and dignity for all earthís creatures.


Kimberly OíCampo is currently working on a degree in environmental studies, sustainability, and science at Antioch University. Her goal is to write environmental policy and start an organization that makes vegan, eco-friendly clothing and household products available to lower income communities. You may follow her on Instagram @kimberly.1968.


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