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I'm an animal rights advocate, and I murdered a bug last night

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I am a self-prescribed vegetarian. My religion doesn’t require it, and neither does my family; in fact, my parents beg me constantly to start eating meat, saying that my body will need the strength and nutrients later on in life, especially since I’m not exactly a big fan of my fruits and vegetables. Still, I refuse. From the moment I found out that my delicious chicken nugget was surprisingly, a real, live (or once living) chicken, I stubbornly put down my foot against a carnivorous lifestyle. This was almost nine years ago, and many people can’t believe that I have been able to control myself since then. I must admit, being a

vegetarian can be difficult in this country; virtually every meal contains some sort of seafood or meat, and while there will be an array of choices for meat eaters, vegetarians usually have only one or two options from which to choose. From burgers to pastas to even salads, it seems that Americans cannot live without some sort of meat marinaded into every meal. Even in school, I am shocked again and again when there is no vegetarian option in the daily meal plan, and the few students like me are forced to either bring lunch from home or eat a pre-wrapped cold sandwich. Actually, I think even that has bacon in it. Anyway, my point is that I have stuck true to my decision and remained a vegetarian for most of my life, despite my parents’ wishes and the hardships of society. Until a few days ago, I was very proud of my self-discipline and choices… Then I got a good look at myself in the mirror. Literally.

About to brush my teeth, I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear and looked at the mirror in the bathroom. I screamed. In some ways, I’m a typical girl, and creepy crawly creatures are not on my list of top one million things I like in this world. So when I saw a moth staring back at me from less than two feet away, I almost had a heart attack. Throwing open the door, I ordered my brother to kill it at once. Thirty seconds later, I was satisfied when I heard the toilet flushing, taking the moth with it. I meekly stepped back into the bathroom and once again looked into the mirror. The thought never came to me before, but all of a sudden I was struck with a sense of guilt and sadness. Who am I to take away the life of another living creature? Life was God’s gift to all creatures on the earth, so why did I think I could just steal away that gift? I used to be so proud of how I respected all living things and did not condone the maltreatment of animals. When we listened to presentations about animal cruelty in school, and learned about the horrific conditions most animals are raised in before they’re killed for food, I felt so good about myself, knowing I was doing nothing to encourage such practices. And yet… I am a hypocrite. I help the cows, sheep, pigs, and chickens, but I murder the ants, spiders, and moths. Even though the thought of such insects makes me shudder even now, I realized that if I call myself a true believer in animal rights, I can’t pick and choose which animals I want to protect. I will probably never love flies and moths, and I will probably always be terrified of spiders, but I don’t have to kill them for the way they look. How many bugs do we all kill in our lifetime because we find them disgusting and purposeless? It has taken me a while, but I’m glad I finally had this realization. Bugs will never be man’s best friend but neither will lions or tigers. Do we go around squashing such grand creatures? No, we give them respect and awe, and they have thousands of people fighting against their endangerment. Mass spraying bug poison to kill millions of them at once is downright cruel. So is squishing them with our shoes or pounding their insides out of them with a broom. I do not love bugs. I never will. But I do think that they need a voice too. They don’t belong inside the house so shoo them outside. There is no need to flush them down the toilet.



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IamtheshyStargirl said...
Jul. 30, 2011 at 11:44 am:
This is pretty cool, I feel the same way sometimes, though I am not vegetarian. I love bugs. (Even some spiders.) Thanks for writing this :)
 
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Thesilentraven This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm:
You said this so very well, that I feel moved to change. My story is pretty much the same as yours; I'm a vegetarian by choice who is certainly not fond of bugs. Except I'm a lot worse than you said you are, because I'm simply terrible to bugs (because I'm so afraid of them). But you're so right, they need a voice as well; and vegetarians need to reach out to all life as best they can. Thanks for writing this article!
 
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