This is me aged sixteen years. This is me in my high school Advanced Biology class. This is me. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.
For those of you who didn’t know me as a non-vegan, or those who have simply forgotten what I was like as a teenager, there it is: reality check.
Every person to ever tell me “I could never be vegan, because I love cheese too much” can basically shut the fuck up now. Does this look like a future vegan? I think I can top you on the apathy scale. DO YOU LOVE BACON? No fucks given. Been there, done that, originality points somewhere in the negatives.
If you had asked sixteen year old me to go vegan, I would’ve asked you “WTF is vegan?” (Followed by “Go away.”) If you had asked me to go vegetarian, I would have told you I could NEVER, because it’s too hard, you know. I would know, I tried it for like… a whole week once.
I would have also said that I love animals. If you had tried to point out the obvious contradiction while I was midway through my first directing role on the set of “Fetal Pig Kama Sutra,” my head may have imploded? I don’t know. I can’t honestly predict what would have happened, because I can’t slip back into that ignorance, and also, I’ve been watching too much sci-fi to be an accurate judge as to whether my head is actually capable of imploding.
Hypothetical responses amount to little though. Here is what actually happened: Less than two years after this photo was taken, I became vegetarian. Five years later, vegan. I’m taking a few story-telling shortcuts here.
Alone this photograph is merely an ugly reminder of humanity’s potential for cruelty and indifference. It’s just a snapshot; it isn’t the full picture. It doesn’t tell what comes after. And after is the best part! It’s somewhat redeeming, though not entirely. I mean, it’s definitely an improvement. It’s good enough.
I have seen my own potential for compassion and change realized. I must have hope that the same potential exists for the rest of humanity.
I keep this photograph around as a reminder to myself when my outlook on humanity is at its bleakest: Hey, don’t hang yourself yet. There’s still hope, even if it doesn’t look like it.