I LOVE that so many people are outraged over Cecil the lion being killed. I love all of the status updates and calls for justice. It is beautiful to see all of these people coming together and saying that his life mattered. And yet I am frustrated and perplexed. A huge number of those people also pay for kills. They pay other people to kill for them. Yes, I am talking to you Ricky Gervais and everyone else doing the same. Your desire to love and protect animals is a beautiful thing. Lending your voice to the call for justice is wonderful. I appreciate all of that. I appreciate the potential you are showing for ending the abuse. But you are calling people out for animal cruelty while you still take part in it. What happened to Cecil is deplorable. But he lived a better life than your beef, pork, poultry, and dairy (cow, pig, chicken, and breastmilk). Probably even better than your free range and cage free varieties. And let’s face it, there is no such thing as humane slaughter for an animal that doesn’t want to die. The animals that you choose to eat are often beheaded, skinned, scalded, ground alive (chicks for eggs), beaten, tortured, etc. I know it hurts to hear it. I know you want to search for ways to justify and make yourself feel better for it. I know it is hard to break away from habit and tradition. To go completely against what the majority of your friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors are doing. I know it is hard and I know the hardest part of all is finally admitting to it and accepting and changing it. Because then you have to see it, really see it, and know that you have participated in something horrific and even enjoyed it. Your loved ones are doing it too. It is heartbreaking and gut wrenching. But that doesn’t make it any less true. I know how hard it is to wake up to it, to finally see and understand it, and to try to come to terms with it going on all around you. I loved my leather jacket. I tasted blood fresh from a deer kill. I have eaten the typical grocery store animal products, I grew up on Happy Meals, I enjoyed fishing. I have eaten deer, elk, rattlesnake, squirrel, rabbit, grouse, possibly bear, and numerous other things. I ate a pig whose name I knew. I am so ashamed of those things. But 15 years ago, I put a stop to that in my life. I made the conscious decision that I would not be part of that anymore. I would no longer allow myself to ignore and make excuses. I could not claim to love animals and be outraged at the abuses of one or two while knowingly taking part in the atrocities happening to so many more. I couldn’t make excuses for myself any more. We all want Cecil’s killer to pay for his disgusting deed, but what do you do when we realize that BILLIONS of other animals are being brutally murdered all the time and that WE are their killers? Do we pretend not to realize it? Or do we change? I vote for change.

-Erin Ni Nuallain