By Ray Horsley
When I was very young I learned of another world, somewhat like mine, only the people there ate animals. The idea struck me as strange since nobody in my world ate animals. So I said to myself: “I’d like to learn of this world, its customs, and the benefits of eating animals”.
As this world was quite far away, I prepared provisions for a lengthy trip, began my journey, and after a long journey, I arrived. At first this new world was not unlike mine. The airport where I landed had planes of all kinds: some were enormous with state of the art technology, some were luxurious with all the appropriate trappings, and others were incredibly fast and powerful military fighters. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that none of these were used for anything other than transporting cargo. Likewise, they were equally surprised when I told them that in my world we use planes to carry both cargo and people.
So the inhabitants of this place were really quite kind. Two of them even offered to show me around the city. It was nice to make new friends so quickly. Both of them wore masks to cover their noses and mouths. I assumed their culture considered this part of the body intimate or something. I didn’t pry into that. The city had offices, shops, sports arenas, all kinds of theaters, and huge churches. But it was strange. Each time I peeked inside, everyone of them was totally vacant. Furthermore, I learned that not one of these magnificent edifices is ever use for any kind of gathering at all. I realized I had much to learn about this world.
I continued with my original goal, to eat an animal. As it turned out this would not be hard at all. Every restaurant we passed sported pictures of dinner plates, each one full of animal parts. In fact, it was hard to find a plate that didn’t contain the parts of one animal or another.
One thing that struck me as odd was every restaurant was carryout only. When I mentioned that in my world we sit down and eat right in the restaurant my two new friends were surprised. However, as senior citizens they were old enough to remember another time when they, too, ate directly in their restaurants. We ordered three meals to go, and although I don’t remember exactly what it was, I do remember we could have ordered any part of any animal, even of a bird or a fish. Moreover, they didn’t just eat parts of animals, they ate animal products. This includes eggs the females lay to produce offspring, and the milk they produce to feed their babies.
After we ordered I asked them what would happen to me, but they looked puzzled. To clarify, I asked them if eating animals would make me stronger. They told me it would not. So I asked them if it would make me smarter, something I could certainly use. A resounding “no” was the answer. Finally, I asked them if it would improve my health. Once again, the answer was simply “not at all” after which one of them added “The truth is, eating animals can actually harm your health”, something to do with what they called “cholesterol”. I was getting confused. At the risk of sounding offensive, I asked “Why then do you eat animals?” Their answer was simply “We like the taste.”
I tried to digest all this as we patiently waited for our meals and it dawned on me these people were really just super nice, not only with me but among each other, too. If they treated each other with such courtesy I could only imagine how well they treated their animals. So I was utterly shocked when they showed me pictures and videos to the contrary, massive factories crammed full of tens of thousands of animals, birds, and fish, all of which were treated in the most horribly brutal way. Many were raised in total darkness, never seeing the light of day in their entire lives. Others were confined to such small cages their little feet grew into the ground, trapping them in place until the day they were slaughtered. All of them were injected with strange hormones and drugs, forcing their bodies to grow very quickly, and into large distorted shapes. It was two extremes; how they treated each other with such care and concern, and how they treated their animals with such indifference and cruelty. It left me perplexed, and it was ironic that while these animals spent their entire lives in large groups, the people were no longer allowed to gather in any kind of group at all.
About this time I noticed something else. One of my new friends had a severe limp. He was also unable to use his left arm, and his speech sounded odd. He told me he had consumed too much cholesterol and it had damaged his brain. I must have looked frightened as they both reassured me they were over fifty years old, and this kind of damage doesn’t usually happen to young people. I also noticed another oddity. People were using umbrellas, but it wasn’t raining. I learned that after many years of clearing their forests of trees the sun was now quite strong. They used umbrellas almost all the time to protect themselves from this change in the sun’s rays. “And why did you cut down so many of your trees?” I asked. They told me they needed the space for the massive animal factories they had just shown me pictures of. And there was one more thing. Ever since my arrival I noticed everybody was maintaining a good deal of distance, not just from me, but from each other. I asked my friends why they were so concerned with maintaining a distance from each other, and with that they revealed something which was truly frightening.
They told me they had been invaded by an enemy. “Couldn’t you defeat it with the incredible arms you have?” I asked them. “No” they told me without hesitation. “This enemy is so tiny that a hundred thousand of them fit on the head of a single pin.” They continued explaining. “They hide inside our very lungs. Sometimes they don’t do anything to us, and sometimes they kill us. They take advantage of each breath we take, traveling among us in our lungs. They’ve already killed many thousands of us. We have no solution and we’re not really sure what to do.”
Now I was beginning to understand why they kept such a distance. I also understood the real reason for the masks, and the absence of any kind of gatherings. As they continued to elaborate I learned that after many years of cramming different species into the same cages, species that would never live together in nature, a certain microbe had morphed into this enemy which was killing them. I saw a glimmer of a smile on one of my new friends as he explained this enemy always goes away, after killing thousands of people. But his smile soon disappeared when the other added that this tiny enemy also never fails to return after morphing into something new and even more deadly.
It was then that I posed a question that seemed to strike a nerve. “So tell me. Why don’t all of you just stop eating animals and their products?” With that they both fell silent. They just stared at me, each one of them like a deer in headlights. And just then the meals we had ordered were ready. And as I expected, each plate was full of various animal parts. But I was no longer hungry. Taking a cue from their courteous ways, I politely thanked my new friends and bid them farewell. I didn’t want to lose the use of any of my appendages, not at any age in my life. And I didn’t want any creatures getting into my lungs. I decided I preferred my own world; a world of forests full of trees, a world where we can travel wherever we like, a world where we can gather in arenas and theaters and churches, and a world without masks covering our mouths. I then returned to my world without eating the parts of any animal.