When Writing a Book Changes You

As some of you already know, I’ve been a vegetarian since I was sixteen (or for nearly thirteen years). And because they say you should write about what you know, I decided to write a novel about factory farming.

I’d already read a lot about factory farming, and I’ve also watched my fair share of documentaries. I already knew a lot about the problems with factory farming going into it, from the way that animals are treated to the way that factory farming damages the environment and devastates local communities. But I didn’t know everything.

And so this has led me to an interesting quandary. I’d thought about going vegan before, but I always joked that I like cheese too much. But honestly, after all of the research that I’ve done, being vegetarian didn’t feel like enough.

So I’ve decided to go vegan, and at the time of writing I’m perhaps a week or so in. It’s going pretty well so far. But it’s also made me think about reading, writing and the power that comes with it. When you write something, you have the power to change someone’s mind. And when you read something, you have the power to change your own.

My research on factory farming and the work I did writing Meat convinced me to change my diet, and I like to think it’s for the better. But it’s also an interesting case of life imitating art and art imitating life.

I think writing a book always changes you, or perhaps it’s that every book you write holds up a mirror to where you were at that point in your life. That’s why it’s hard for writers to pick a favourite, because each of their books represents a different version of them.

Meat, when it finally comes out, will mark the point at which I decided to stop relying on animals to provide me with food. I’ll be interested to see how people react to it. Perhaps it’ll make someone else change their mind. At the very least, I hope it makes people think about things and ask themselves some questions. I guess we’ll see.

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