My childhood memories of animals
This is an exclusive excerpt from my book Fat Gay Vegan: Eat, Drink and Live Like You Give a Sh!t. Published by Nourish.
My auntie Jackie once took me to the circus and you had better believe me when I say the animals outnumbered the humans. I lost track of the number of creatures forced to jump through flaming hoops, walk on wires or drive tiny motor vehicles.
I had grown a lot taller than other children my age by the time my circus trip was foisted upon me and the donkey assigned to carry me around the ring did not look pleased with the prospect. My brown-corduroy adorned legs dragged in the dirt as the hot lights beat down and depraved-looking clowns smirked at the tall kid on the sad donkey. I’m fairly certain that was my final experience at any form of circus, but I think more due to the mortification and shame felt by me rather than concern for animal welfare.
Christmas in my hometown was always brutal. First of all, it was always sweltering hot and furthermore we had the joy of sitting around with relatives ranging from mildly to wildly racist. Animals featured heavily Christmas day, from the pig-now-called-ham wrapped in a water- soaked pillow case to keep it fresh to the family dog sitting under the table hoping for scraps. Prawns, crabs, chickens and turkeys who used to all be alive at some point were scattered around the buffet in order for me and the people I didn’t like all that much to experience festive cheer.
So, animals were absolutely everywhere in my life as a child in Australia, but I honestly didn’t give them much more thought than what I have described above. Not one adult explained to me the difference between prawns on the table and the dog under it. Understanding how animals lived and died was not my concern. I was socialised into thinking animals were available to eat, wear and prod with sticks unquestionably.
That’s what I think I have in common with a lot of you turning these pages right this moment.
Reflect for a moment on just how much animals were used in your young life, but how little thought was given to the how, what, when and why. Did adults and people responsible for your emotional growth explain the process of factory farm to dining table? The shark took a chunk from the turtle (another story from this chapter) just as I watched crabs being boiled alive in my kitchen at Christmas time, but they were all just ‘things’ in my mind. Objects. Just like the pine cones and the cliffs and the polished glass fragments at the seaside.
I didn’t understand that these animals were capable of fear and pain because nobody told me, and I would bet my last block of tofu they didn’t tell you either.
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