This short children’s story was created for a storytelling event at the Glasgow Centre of Contemporary Arts, as part of a project in partnership with Glasgow University, Veganwheels, and Ananda Animal Sanctuary.
Because it is focused on the moral aspect of reducing meat consumption, I would like to say that I’m aware that a vegan diet or a diet with very low animal products is not accessible or the healthiest option for everyone.
However, the negative impact of the massive production and consumption of meat, dairy, and eggs by farmed animals on our environment, our health, and the well-being of these animals is a fact. And so I find it important that those of us who can change our diets and eating habits open up conversations amongst our communities and our children about why and how we can make these changes.
The sun was setting, unrolling a deep orange strip across the balcony, like a warm cozy carpet. Little Binx pulled the door open and stepped outside, taking off her jacket and backpack. She sat on the floor with her legs crossed, enjoying the last rays of sun for a moment. Then she pulled out her notebook and pens from the backpack and started drawing.
She was so deeply focused, light brown strands of hair falling over her forehead, that she didn’t hear the fluttering around her.
‘Hi, Binx!’ a shrieky chirp interrupted her. She lifted her head to meet the white budgie Horus perched on the balcony railing.
‘Horus,’ she said. It was not polite to interrupt but she didn’t really understand bird etiquette.
‘What are you doing?’ asked the bird.
‘I’m drawing this very nice cow I’ve met today on a school trip. We went to a farm. It was good fun but, in the end, we were chased by these angry geese, quacking and squawking all the way to the gates!’
‘Yes, geese can be a bit mean sometimes,’ Horus bobbed his head. ‘I wouldn’t mess up with them.’
‘I took loads of pictures with my camera, but I need to wait to develop them, so I thought I could make some drawings of the animals I’ve met while I still remember them well.’
She drew until the sun was setting behind the buildings across the football field. The warmth and its fiery light were gone and the sky was now light purple. The neighborhood was quiet. Horus flew to Little Binx’s shoulder and cuddled with the fur lining of her collar.
‘I was thinking about something else at the farm today,’ she said. ‘You know, I’ve never really fancied hamburgers and other meat things. But after having such a nice chat with the cow, I thought now I don’t want to eat meat at all. It just doesn’t feel right.’
‘I understand,’ said Horus. ‘It makes no sense to me to eat another animal. Actually makes me want to throw up, just the idea… it’s wrong. I like my seeds and fruit. I would have to be pretty desperate to eat another animal and even then, maybe my crop and stomach couldn’t hold it.’
‘Maybe I’m like a bird and I can eat seeds and fruit too.’
‘I’m not so sure about that, Binx. You see, some animals do have to eat other animals for the same reason I have to eat my seeds. They wouldn’t survive otherwise.’
‘But what do human people need to eat? I mean, I don’t like meat anyway. I like vegetables much more. Do you think I can survive on just that?’
‘No idea. You need to consult with your own species. They should know better about your needs than a bird.’
‘Maybe we are not all the same. My people.’
They stood in silence, watching the darkness set in and the city lights come up. Then Little Binx’s mother called her and her brother for dinner and Little Binx went back inside, leaving Horus to roost on the railing of the curtains. She placed a big newspaper sheet on the floor underneath him and left her desk light on.
‘Mom,’ said Little Binx, peeking into the dinner pots and pans. Her mom had made chicken breast with mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots. She thought about Horus’ breast, naked and grilled like that and her stomach revolved. ‘I don’t want to eat meat anymore.’
‘What?’ Her mom looked at her as if she had said her room was on fire. ‘What nonsense is this? Is it some crazy diet you’ve read about on the internet?’
‘No. I just don’t want to eat my friends.’ Little Binx shrugged.
‘Whatever,’ Mom rolled her eyes. ‘I’m not going to cook anything else, though. Will you just eat the side dishes? I hope you won’t be hungry. You can have some crackers too and some fruit.’
‘Yes, that’s fine,’ Little Binx filled her plate with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots and sat at the table with the others. Mom and Dad gave her the occasionally puzzled stare, but didn’t say anything and just let her eat the vegetables.
In the end, they all said their prayers and she went back to her room. Horus was yawing, still perched on the rail. Little Binx read a few chapters of her favourite book and did some internet searching until it was time for bed. She left to shower and brush her teeth and came back to an almost asleep Horus.
‘I’ve eaten just the vegetables and I feel fine,’ she whispered. ‘I think mom is okay with me not eating meat.’
‘Maybe there’s all these other things I can eat that I don’t even know about. Supermarkets have so much food. You should see it, Horus. It’s crazy. I think every food in the world is there. We’re very lucky.’
‘Can you bring me some lettuce next time?’
‘Sure! All the lettuce you can eat. I’ll see how I feel in the coming months. But I hope I can make it. I really don’t want to eat animals. You’re my best friend.’
‘You’re my best friend too, Binx. Good night.’
She turned off the light and they both went to sleep, dreaming of leafy delicious lettuces.
by Joana Avi-Lorie