A Girl Named Stella
This is the story of when I met Stella. She lives just a five hour drive away in a place called Rooterville. Stella is incredibly intelligent, spirited, energetic and very compassionate. I find the fact that she has retained these qualities admirable, seeing as how for the first part of her life she was captured, abused, and confined to a crate barely bigger than her body. Stella endured a life filled with torture and neglect for years, until she became too old to be of any use to those who enslaved her.
She was deposited on the back of a truck to be shipped off, but was lucky enough to escape. Stella had deep wounds all over her body and the left side of her face is paralyzed today due to the torture she lived through. I never thought an animal would have such a tremendous impact on my life, much less a little piggy like Stella. Before Stella, I never gave much thought to the treatment of animals affected by factory farming. I didn’t hesitate before ordering chicken nuggets from the kids’ menu at restaurants.
I didn’t think twice before eating a filet mignon. I ate chicken on a weekly basis. I never realized how much unnecessary pain and suffering these defenseless animals endure at the hand of humans. Once I had the opportunity to meet Stella and learn about her and others like her (Raju the elephant, Mr. Peepers the rooster), my perspective changed.
I couldn’t eat chicken without cringing; I couldn’t eat steak without thinking about the beautiful cow that had suffered. The more research I did, most of which consisted of essays by animal activists like Peter Singer, the more I realized that all animals deserve love and compassion, not hate and cruelty. These were sentient beings that were mercilessly cut open and mutilated. I decided that this was a cause I wanted to be actively participatory. I took my first steps by cutting chicken and pork out of my diet and by buying products that were vegan and cruelty-free.
A few weeks later, I continued by eating meat fewer times per week and by trying to give up dairy products, particularly cheese and milk. I told my friends what I had learned, and they laughed and started placing bets on how long I would last; my choice became the joke of the week for them. What they didn’t know, however, was that this was one of the easiest decision I had ever made. There wasn’t a gray area for me. Torturing defenseless animals for our pleasure is violence.
I began to love all animals, not just man’s best friend. The hardest part of my transformation wasn’t missing out on the steak, but admitting to myself that the view I had held for the past 15 years of my life was wrong.