FEATURE: Ashleigh Mott

I’ve loved animals for as long as I can remember (my first word, according to my baby book, was “kitty”!). But I also grew up on the Standard American diet, which included dairy, eggs, and especially meat (one of my earliest memories is eating a bit of raw ground beef off a cutting board when I was 4, only to be lightly scolded by my mother, and told “that will make you sick!”). It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I made the connection between my love for animals and the animals I ate.

I remember the day it happened. My parents took my brothers and me to the county fair late in August 1999. After some rides and games, we made our way to the 4-H part of the fair, with all the pigs, cows, chickens, rabbits, and other animals raised for the program. Still being the animal lover I was, I was enthused over seeing farm animals so full of life. Right after that, though, my parents went to buy us hot dogs for lunch…at which point I asked for just French fries.

I was a typical junk food vegetarian. I ate only side dishes for dinner, supplementing with a lot of chips, cookies, ice cream, and at school, Little Debbie snack cakes. It wasn’t easy, since I didn’t know much about cooking, and was the only vegetarian in the family. As such, I fell off the wagon by the end of high school (partly by my parents’ insistence that eating some fish and chicken might help my clinical depression).

Flash forward to my early 20s, when a lot had changed. I had realized that I was not Christian and didn’t believe in organized religion any longer, came out as queer, and went back to vegetarianism (but still not giving up eggs and dairy, especially cheese). This started to change when I came across several PETA videos, videos that were profoundly jarring (especially hearing the narrator of “Meet Your Meat” say “if you’re consuming milk, you’re supporting the veal industry” as images of baby boy calves chained by the neck flashed across the screen; I burst into tears, thinking “my God, what have I done?”). I didn’t become vegan right after that, but it was all a process for me (learning to buy nail polish, soap, deodorant, and lip gloss that are vegan-friendly and not animal-tested, learning to live with limited processed vegan meats to stay within my budget [which, by the way, is easy once you’re used to it!], and so forth). As of 2010, I am vegan!

Today, I run a blog called Everyone Deserves Justice, based around promoting justice causes, including veganism, with an intersectional approach. I also have a YouTube channel under the username ElectricMayhem87 (I’m a Muppet fan; does it show?) wherein I’m currently working on a series about intersectionality and veganism. That, and my blog, are mainly a response to rhetoric and ads I’ve seen since I’ve become involved in the animal rights movement that I feel are unproductive to our cause (fat-shaming, comparisons to black slavery and the Holocaust, use of misogyny to support the message, etc.). I am still a vegan for justice, and I want this movement to reflect justice, not other oppressive attitudes.