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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

What is “extreme”?

Once upon a time, if I ever heard someone call veganism “drastic” or “extreme,” I wouldn’t have disagreed. Back then, going without cheese did seem too difficult to consider as a viable lifestyle option.

ex·treme
[ik-streem]  ex·trem·er, ex·trem·est
noun, adjective
1. of a character or kind farthest removed from the ordinary or average: extreme measures.
2. utmost or exceedingly great in degree: extreme joy.
3. farthest from the center or middle; outermost; endmost: the extreme limits of a town.
4. farthest, utmost, or very far in any direction: an object at the extreme point of vision.
5. exceeding the bounds of moderation: extreme fashions.

Today I believe we often use words like “drastic” and “extreme” to label things we just don’t feel brave enough to contemplate. We forget that the unknown, by definition, contains just as many possibilities for “extreme joy” as big bad scary things—and that “the big bad scary things” might only be a matter of faulty labeling, too.

So I’d like to offer some perspective—to reframe these words, if you will. Here is a short list of things I consider “extreme”:

1. Open heart surgery, or blitzing your body with toxic radiation.
They saw your chest open, for crying out loud! The links between animal foods and disease are scientifically irrefutable. How is giving up cheeseburgers “extreme” in the face of such massive health consequences?

2. Anal electrocution.
Just so some clueless human can wear their fur? This is not just extreme—it is cruel and insane.

3. Losing your beak, or losing your life before it’s even started.
At poultry farms it is standard practice to singe off the beaks of female chicks so they won’t peck each other out of desperation in their hideously claustrophobic cages, and to throw “useless” boy chicks into a grinder—or leave them to die in a trash can. These are reasons why I will never eat another omelet as long as I live. (You’d like to think family-run farms don’t engage in these inhumane practices, but you cannot be completely sure of this unless you are keeping your own chickens. Earlier this week I watched Vegucated for the first time, and it includes disturbing footage from a farm that bills itself as small, organic, family run, etc. They say they have to resort to such practices in order to compete with the larger factory farm operations.)

Yes, these facts are horrible and disgusting. I absolutely wish that none of this stuff existed outside of nightmares. But if you find it disturbing, you are proving my point.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.