The first time I ever saw a chicken truck was a shock for me. This is in the middle of nowhere Alabama near the Georgia border. I had recently moved from a developed part of Florida and have never seen such a sight before. I look at the cages the chickens are housed in. They are stuffed in there with no protection from the elements and no room to move. They are on transport from the breeding ground where they are farmed to the slaughterhouse where they will finally meet their end. It’s not a pretty process to think about at all. On weekdays these trucks constantly run the 411 taking these birds to the slaughterhouse. I can’t imagine the amount of birds they run there in just one day. It’s disturbing to me.
I got a job working fast food sometime later. One of the first things I did when I got there was bread and cook the chicken. There were times when I thought about where the birds came from and the process it took for them to get to me and eventually the customer on the other side of the counter. It disgusted me that I had a part in the demise of these once living beings. They lived their whole lives in some cage and only saw the outside world when they were on their way to die. Their bodies ultimately cut up and served as food for us to eat. I actually cried about this on three different occasions. I didn’t believe that what I was doing was making any difference at all for humanity and our neighboring species.
It wasn’t just the chicken that I handled at my job. I somehow became the main person that worked the grill and cooked all the pork and beef products. Out here in this rural country I have seen cows roam the fields and have even seen one pee. (The stream is as thick as a water hose and is a sight to behold.) There was even one time I was driving from a friends house and found one that had gotten out of the field it was in. My anxious brain first thought “please don’t run into my car.” I slowed down and thought about stopping to pet the magnificent creature. I didn’t do that and continued on while saying aloud “Your free! Run away from the insanity!” Considering what I have seen of the chickens I’m sure that eventually these cows are gonna have the same fate. Like the chickens I handled before I had a hand in the demise of these poor cows. That bothered me too even though I never personally saw them on their way to the slaughter house. I could imagine the process they go through to ultimately get there. It’s just as depressing to think about.
I have never seen a pig farm around here. That didn’t stop me from being worried about what they have to go through to get to your plate of food. That sausage, ham, or pork chop might taste good until you think about how that meat got to your plate.
I ultimately came to the conclusion that I wanted to free myself from this insanity. I aspired to become a 100% plant powered human. In other words I wanted to become vegan. I decided this while I still worked my crappy fast food job. While I was able to eat mostly vegan/vegetarian foods at home I still had food I got from work loaded with meat and other animal products. I couldn’t help but feel some shame as I would eat the food from work. I realized that I would need to quit my job if I was really going to go through with this 100%. Circumstances aligned and I was ultimately able to quit. I could commit more to this goal of mine.
At the time of this post I’m eating vegan/vegetarian foods and have managed to cut meat entirely out of my diet. Do I miss eating meat at all? Not really. I actually enjoy the crisp freshness of vegetables and how easy they are to eat for the most part. If I want a good meat substitute then I go for some re fried beans or some tofu. Even rice makes for a good base to slather vegetables on top of. Some chopped nuts like walnuts or pecans make for some delicious crunchies if your looking to mix textures.
I’m still taking the time to rid the rest of the cupboard at home of stuff made with milk, eggs, and other ingredients made from animal products. It’s going to be a gradual process finding these “bad foods” and riding them. I’m honestly surprised at some of what they shove animal products into. I never would have guessed that some of the food I eat even has them as an ingredient. Saltine crackers for example have egg in them. I would not have known had I not looked at the ingredients section on the box. Looking at the listed ingredients on the box is how I figure out if something is suitable for my diet since I’ve begun this transition.
All of this ultimately began with some awareness beforehand and actually witnessing the displeasing sight of a chicken truck. As long as I still drive the 411 I’ll see these big trucks hauling innocent birds to their death. It will be a haunting reminder of what I once had a part of, but also an active reminder that I made a choice to do my part to end the suffering of animals and take another step to being a better human. I would encourage you to lean the processes the food you buy takes before it ultimately reaches your plate. Lean about where the meat you buy comes from and how it’s farmed. Learn about how the animals are treated and really consider how it makes you feel inside. Would you like to be kept in a cage most of your life and only get to see the outside world on your way to die? I know I don’t and the animals in those cages would rather be elsewhere.