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Realizing chicken was chicken

vegan roost

The vegan hash from The Roost, located on Massachusetts Street, is Emily's go-to plant-based brunch dish. Pictured is vegetable hash with avocado and rye toast, and an almond milk latte with honey.

When I was in elementary school, my mom chose the movie “Year of the Dog” for a family movie night. She read the back of the DVD and said it sounded like a cute rom-com. Not far into the movie I thought otherwise. Maybe it was a rom-com, but that’s not how I remember it. I think I’ve blocked out most of the movie since then, but dogs die, Molly Shannon’s character goes vegan, and she takes children to a slaughterhouse. 

It was one of the first times I was introduced to the dilemma of eating meat. To this day, I joke with my mom that the movie scarred me forever, mainly because of the scenes at the slaughterhouse. 

I’ve felt connected to animals for as long as I can remember. I don’t think I’ve met one I didn’t love. It’s why I find myself smiling at dogs and slowing down for butterflies when I’m driving. It’s why I catch spiders in bowls and release them outside. And it’s why if I can convince someone else to catch a bug and take it outside, I end my spiel with “If there are any casualties, don’t tell me.”

I had been iffy about eating meat since first grade when I figured out it came from animals. I wondered why I hadn’t been clued in a little sooner and why I didn’t realize chicken was chicken. The year I got to kiss a baby pig on the head at the Kansas State Fair, I couldn’t bring myself to eat a Pronto Pup hot dog.

I slowly stopped eating animal products over time. First it was seafood. I said my taste buds had changed, while my parents said it had a little more to do with me thinking the shrimp in “Shark Tale” were cute. 

Three Octobers ago, my mom and I had to have our cat, Spooky, put to sleep. She was a gray and black sweetheart who loved to cuddle on her own terms. She was part of our family for 13 years and had found a special place in our hearts.

spooky the cat

Emily's beloved cat, Spooky, sits in a box. Emily attributes her decision to become vegetarian to Spooky's death.

It was the first time I’d ever had to say goodbye to a cat of my own, and the first time I’d ever witnessed euthanasia. For the last time, I told our tiny angel cat that I loved her, and the vet did her part. The experience was jarring and heartbreaking.  

Not long after, I realized it wouldn’t have mattered what animal I was saying goodbye to — I would have been just as heartbroken, because I could form a connection with nearly anything. That’s when I decided to become a vegetarian. 

Many people say they like animals, but they also like eating meat. But what’s possible for other people just wasn’t for me anymore. So I stopped.

I describe myself as someone who is usually having an internal conflict. I think it's partly because I’m indecisive and partly a result of my efforts to become a more critical thinker. I usually think it makes me a better human; I always think it’s exhausting. 

Now, I’m having an internal conflict about consuming any animal product, and little by little I find myself ditching more and more of them like eggs and dairy milk. I’ve swapped meat for plant-based proteins and always opt for milk-alternatives.

And no, I don’t miss anything I’ve given up.

Person 1: This song slaps.

Person 2: Your mom slaps.

Person 1: Thank you, my mom is a kind and wonderful lady.

 Person 1: I’m so sick of alcohol.

Person 2: I don’t know, I’m getting stronger every day. I love it.

Person 1: Do you do the vegan wrap here?

Person 2: We can do the chicken wrap with no cheese?

Person 1: I’ll take the Beyond Burger please. 

Person 1: Oh my God! I feel like I know you somehow…

Person 2: Yeah, we went to high school together. 

Person 1: Oh! *walks off*

Guy 1: Is the black market even real? Has anyone ever been on it?

Guy 2: I tried once but I couldn’t figure out how to get on.

Guy 1: I stayed up until 2 am watching Disney plus

Guy 2: I told my girlfriend I fell asleep but I was actually watching the Mandalorian.

Girl 1: How long have you guys been dating?

Girl 2: Since the summer, well actually for like two years but it’s a long story.

Girl 1: Who are you looking for?

Girl 2: This guy, wait I found him. Fanny pack boy. He flipped off my professor after a test and ran out of the classroom.

Girl 1: How did you choose KU? 

Girl 2: Honestly, I flipped a coin. 

Boy 1: Did I tell you? I think I had a threesome this weekend.

Boy 2: Woah, hold up. You think?

Boy 1: I was born a Phi Delt.

Boy 2: Please don’t ever say that again.

Girl 1: How do you get your boobs to look like that?

Girl 2: I don’t ever wear a bra? I don’t know. 

Girl 1: I just really want a guy to bend me over you know?

Girl 2: How do you know? You’re a virgin!

Guy: Sometimes I wish I could just be a dog and sleep all day. 

Girl: You wake up at like three every day. 

Guy: I know.

Girl: So…

Guy: So does that make me a dog or something?

Girl 1: I wish I was a little bit taller.

Girl 2: I wish I was balder.

Girl 1: I wish I had a...wait, wait, wait balder?

Guy 1: Let’s slap dicks

Guy 2: You ever pee and it feels like throwing up?

Woman 1: *holding baby* He would have been safer at the Hawk

Woman 2: Oh absolutely.

Girl 1: I would never date that guy.

Girl 2: Well, it depends how much money he has.

Girl 1: I’m going to the doctor to see if I have bronchitis before I hook up with him again.

Girl 2: Yeah that’s smart so you don’t give it to anyone else. 

Girl 1: No I mean I want to make sure I infect him.

Guy 1: I'm cutting some of my unnecessary costs, starting with Juuling.

Guy 2: Ight man, good luck.

Guy 1: Actually I might just start chewing

Guy 1: How was work?

Guy 2: My manager was chastising me for not dressing up in a Halloween costume, she doesn’t understand I’m strictly here to get paid.

Guy 1: I am so tired of this week, man

Guy 2: Dude it’s Monday

Guy 1: I know

Person#1: I want to be on the first ship to mars

Person#2: Not me, I doubt they have Wi-Fi

Perons#1: Yeah but at least they’re evolving up there. We’re all just devolving.

Girl 1: Um, I don’t eat pig.

Girl 2: You eat bacon all the time, bitch.

Guy 1: You better get going. 

Guy 2: Yeah, see ya. I’m off to get some Adderall.

Girl 1: Are you home right now?

Girl 2: Yeah, why?

Girl 1: I bought a cat

Girl 1: I just don't understand what fishing is for.

Girl 2: I don't know. Food, maybe?

Guy: I’m just gonna have to like carry an entire box of spiders up the hill tomorrow.

Girl: What?

Guy: Yeah, just like a hundred spiders in a box.

Guy 1: Sometimes ya just gotta give yourself a haircut.

Guy 2: Dude, you shaved half your head. That’s not a haircut, that’s a mess.

Girl 1: Can you eat fruit raw?

Girl 2: How else are you supposed to eat it?

Girl: That class is killing us. ​But they say rest is for the dead.

Guy: Well, at least we'll be rested.

Girl: She's not in class this semester.

Guy: Maybe she's dead.

Girl: Or studying abroad.

Girl: They're like oil and water.

Guy: Wow, you're so good with analogies.