It seems so obvious now, as all things do, once you know. Many things scream it at you and infinite more hint at it. Sometimes it’s well disguised, ashamed of what it really is, confidently assured that we won’t discover it’s reality. Often its raw and proud and boasting; confident in a way that’s shocking and arrogant, because the truth is on full display, and yet not many will really notice. And when they don’t, for the most part, it’s because it’s just a normal and unremarkable part of life, like work on Mondays and a warm coat on a cold day. More than normal, it’s appropriate, and necessary, and, well, it just is. Just an unremarkable thing, until you know. For me it was transformed in one single, painful moment of revelation into something obscene. It doesn’t happen this way for everyone though. It could take a matter of months, or an entire lifetime. For many, it may never happen at all. But once you know, and I mean really know, it’s like a strange transcendence, where nothing is the same anymore, though nothing has really actually changed. Now it’s so obvious, it’s hard to understand how it’s so hidden to so, so many. It’s hidden to some because of social programming, power structures that are intent on securing their fortunes and because of a distance from the ‘how’ that is hidden by a shiny and efficient commodification culture. Some people have a strange knowing – though they know, they deny and disavow. The truth is so horrific and gruesome that there has to be a good reason for it, and so people wear their reasons and excuses like armour, and even as weapons, to make it okay for them to participate. They lock the knowing up deep inside at the very bottom of the very back of their consciousness, and it rots there until it’s almost nothing at all, and life can continue in comfort and convenience.
The truth came to me in a way that many disapprove of, because to them it’s offensive, insulting to the eye and most of all to their sense of righteousness. The truth arrived at my consciousness in an image. A picture of a baby chick on the edge of a conveyor belt, oblivious to the fact he’s about to fall into a world of excruciating pain and be ground up alive in a chick blending machine below. OH. MY. GOD. Then another picture: a calf in a wheelbarrow, looking so frail and so incredibly vulnerable, being taken away from it’s mother. And another image: a spent dairy cow, collapsed on the slaughterhouse floor under the weight of her weak and ruined body, being prodded and goaded by slaughterhouse workers to move up the line. Then came some vegan slogans and memes to really hammer it home. I had fallen down a Pinterest rabbit hole into another world – a world of madness and cruelty and torture and the unthinkable. I was flooded with tears and shame when I saw these soul piercing images, and I was changed forever with knowing. From that moment on, whenever I smelled cheese or egg, the spent dairy cow, the sweet innocent calf, and little boy chick haunted me. Things I once saw as food became gruesome tokens of abuse and oppression. Everywhere you turn there are images of the butchered bodies of dead animals, displayed flamboyantly in their raw, bloody, fleshy state, or burned, or disfigured into cylinder shapes or otherwise disguised so as to hide the truth. There are shops brimming with these things. They are on the plates and in the mouths and bodies of our friend and family. The smell of them wafts over the plants as I sit in the garden while the whole neighbourhood barbecues them. They envelop the limbs of people I see on the street. The flesh and the secretions and skins of being are everywhere. It’s strange. It’s disturbing. One day I hope it will be gone. But until then I console myself with another knowing; that there are people in this world who see the truth and who are banishing animal flesh, skins and secretions from their lives. People who are revealing the truth, by showing the stories of the beings who suffer for this oddly hidden but gruesome reality, are changing the world for the better, one heart at a time. And so I spend my days living between horror and hope.