An Indiana resident shares her path from growing up on a farm to becoming a vegetarian and aspiring vegan.
I grew up on a Southern Indiana farm where my dad raised cattle and swine. The smell of animal manure in the air was natural and normal to me, still is. It’s what I’m used to. Although the squeals of angry pigs no longer fill the air since my dad stopped raising them, I can still hear their screams vividly in my mind. Honestly, none of this growing up ever haunted me. It was just life.
I have memories, good memories, of going to the hog market with daddy, playing with the owner’s chubby little pug, and eating delicious bacon and egg sandwiches. For years I showed hogs at the 4-H fair, grew attached to them, and then watched them get hauled away to their deaths. I loved to go see the newborn piglets, but was scared of the hog house because it was loud and really smell, so my dad would bring the piglets out. Their little noses and tails wiggled with excitement at the smell of fresh outside air, only to be put back in the warm stench with their mothers.
I remember the ever-present bellowing of cattle and the strong, grassy burn of their manure as I came to pet them through the blue painted fence. The coarse, short hair just above their eyes was all I was willing to touch. They scared me. All the stories of people getting kicked and maimed or worse, were terrifying tales to a young child. I believed them. These monstrous beasts would do their best to buck my petting hand away, but I persisted. Eventually they’d walk away, through the muddy, manure path underfoot and back to what they did best: eating.
None of this bothered me for the better part of 25 years. I left my childhood life at 18 for the big bad world of college. I learned a lot about who I was and the things I wanted and believed. Still, though, I ate meat without qualms. Even though any sort of meat gave me heartburn and indigestion, I would still eat it because that’s what I was supposed to eat as a human, right? That’s what I was raised and made to believe anyway.