130I was raised in a small Texas town where ranching was the biggest business—almost the only business. I always felt out of place. Animal husbandry was a constant reality, and I was surrounded by the misery of “food” animals. I experienced everything from the tortured sounds of distressed cattle bellowing at the auction barn (“just cows bellerin’”), to watching my friends give up the cows, sheep, goats or pigs they nurtured and raised for 4H or FFA projects.  Almost every year, the Dallas Morning News prints the photo of a child crying over the animal who had become as precious as any pet being sold at the State Fair for slaughter or, if they were lucky, breeding.  Rodeos were common events, and my town was well known for its Diamond Back Jubilee, a spring roundup of rattlesnakes. We aren’t supposed to feel sorry for snakes, but I could not bear to pass by the pits filled with rattlesnakes piled on top of each other, confused, hurt and desperate, many already dead.

When we dared to question their suffering, we were told it was natural, that animals were put here for our “use.”  Although I accepted it for a long time, it never felt right. I was miserable, but didn’t know any better.

When I went to college, I finally began to seriously question the things I’d been taught all my life. I learned to think for myself, no longer accepting the opinions presented by others—my parents, the preacher,  so-called experts, authorities, or anyone else—as fact. I was exposed to PETA and Animal Liberation by Peter Singer, and I knew what I had accepted before was wrong.  I started to think about who I was eating and faced the truth that animals want to live as much as I do. And, in my new-found philosophy, had every right to.

When I started writing fiction, I didn’t plan on using my feelings for animals in my stories. But in spite of everything, animal “issues” kept creeping in. Reading about the suffering of food animals can be very distressing, as I well know. So I wanted to approach the subject differently, and give people a new way to enjoy becoming vegan. My novel, Diary of a Dieting Madhouse, is a different approach, which I hope will convince some people who wouldn’t have considered veganism any other way. Although some disagree with approaching veganism as a diet, any approach that helps evolve this planet into a cruelty-free world is,  in my opinion, worth it.

Guest Blog Post From Paige 
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