Story

You are what you eat – English

Why it is dangerous to kill animals [Guideline]

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USA, Houston, Texas

2016
Toni

Finally, school is over.

You are already looking forward to basketball practice, but you need to eat something first. You are starving.

You head for the old snack vending machine at the school building entrance. Even though your mouth is watering, you feel uneasy.

Look at the chocolate bars

In geography class, you watched a stunning documentary:

Apparently, the production of candy requires vast amounts of palm oil, which accelerates the destruction of the rainforest… That is why you do not want to support the palm oil industry anymore.

Ignore your growling stomach

Your family cannot provide you with a lot of pocket money, so you have to think twice about what you spend it on.

Get a cheeseburger at McDonald‘s
Buy a Snickers… maybe next time something without palm oil
USA, Houston, Texas

15 minutes later
Miguel

It is late in the afternoon, the most exhausting time in the McDonald’s store.

You are tormented not only by fatigue and the smell of fried oil but also by extreme boredom.

Why are you even doing this work in the first place?

Yawn

You studied Business Administration for five years and paid vast amounts of money to your university, just to end up working in three low-paid jobs at once.

It will take four more years to work off your debt.

How are you going to keep this up?

Look at teenager

She holds out some bills in front of you. You do not really listen to her order.

You turn around. Your hands automatically grab the meat, the four slices of cucumber, the fatty cheese.

You stopped thinking about what you are doing a long time ago. It is almost like watching yourself from outside while your body is doing the work.

Heat up meat

You feel nauseous and turn away for a second.

The meat of thousands of cattle in one patty… Mass breeding, methane emission, antibiotic resistance… Actually, you do not want to have anything to do with the meat industry.

Time to talk to your boss.

Ask for a pay raise. “From rags-to-riches”, as the saying goes
Propose to close the branch, open an organic burger store
USA, Houston, Texas

10 years later
Toni

You sit in a popular organic burger store and bite into your juicy falafel burger.

There used to be this McDonald’s here where you often ate cheeseburgers back in the days. Nowadays you do not like to talk about how often you went there.

Post a photo of the burger

The documentary about the palm oil plantations got stuck in your head. You studied journalism and now create investigative documentaries yourself.

Right now, you are on to something hot:

Apparently, McDonald’s uses hormone-enriched pork in its burger, despite their promise to act more sustainably.

Check mails

You pause and reread the mail in your spam folder.

McDonald’s got wind of your investigations and is offering one million dollars for you to destroy the evidence you collected.

They are threatening to sue you for defamation. A written warning from a renowned law firm is already in your postbox. Slowly, you realize what this means for you.

Time to decide

With one million dollars, you could pay off your debts and make a film about the large-scale extinction of species in the tropical rainforest.

You have time to deal with McDonald’s later in your life.

At the same time, you feel obligated to bring the truth to light, even if it means going to jail.

Accept McDonald’s offer
Ignore threat
USA, Houston, Texas

30 years later
Toni

You are back in your hometown in your favorite restaurant. It was the right decision to release your documentary.

Under public pressure, McDonald’s did not dare to turn their threats into action.

A few months later, the company went bankrupt, and several other fast-food companies followed. By now, the world’s biggest fast-food chains have disappeared…

Read through the menu

As usual, burgers are the most popular dish here. However, no animal needs to die for it anymore. Meat is grown artificially on a big scale. All the other food is planted locally in former ship containers piled several meters high at the edge of the city.

In Houston, a lot of money has been spent on robust infrastructure. The industrial sector has to pay for any damage done by hurricanes and floods.

Since basic income is available, people dare to denounce the wrong behavior of large companies and realize sustainable economic concepts on their own.

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USA, Houston, Texas

30 years later
Miguel

It is peak hour, and your burger store is packed.

You are excited. Today you want to show your guests a documentary about an inconspicuous girl who often came here to eat burgers.

Start the movie

She was born and raised in poor conditions, worked her way up, and produced great movies that went around the world.

Her research, found in a secret location after her death, brought to light the dirty practices of McDonald’s and the meat industry.

Serve vegetarian burger

It is thanks to her that there are no more fast-food chains.

Instead, they have been replaced by small snack bars that follow the same business model as you and sell fresh and regional food.

The classic among teenagers is mealworm pizza.

Take a little break

It is just a pity that the movie ends tragically:

As the movie creator disguises herself as an orang-utan to film the last remaining specimens of the now-extinct species in the rainforest of Indonesia, she unfortunately gets shot by a poacher in the course of her work.

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USA, Texas, not far away from Houston

10 weeks earlier
Nr. 40-5998

Your stomach is rumbling, and a load of gas makes its way out of your body.

Your fellow sufferers are feeling the same. Your life takes place on less than 3 square meters and consists only of eating and sleeping.

You do not know what a meadow is because everything you know is the artificial light and the hard, wet concrete floor you have already slipped on several times.

Burp

You have been waiting your entire life. Today is the day.

You already see the humans coming. You have often watched the others being driven out of the building.

They thought they would finally escape from their prison, excited for freedom. You never saw them again.

You are full of anticipation. Finally, the eternal monotony has an ending and your life a meaning!
Your stress level is rising. You suspect that something bad will happen to you.
USA, Texas, not far from Houston

9 weeks earlier
Nr. 40-5998

Only when you are taken to the slaughterhouse, do you realize that your life will very soon come to an end.

You are deeply disappointed. You really hoped to see the sun again.

Think of your unknown mother

A human is pointing his cattle gun at your forehead.

You cannot move.

You feel numb, thinking that the worst is already over… but when the knife drives into your throat, you realize that the shot did not hit you properly.

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USA, Texas, unweit von Houston

9 weeks earlier
Nr. 40-5998

When you enter the slaughterhouse, you are suddenly no longer afraid.

Dying is better than to veg out.

Only the thought that your corpse will later end up in small pieces in people’s stomachs you find somehow degrading.

Wait for your death.

You hope that you were able to collect enough good karma in your life as a cattle to be reborn as a human in your next life.

There is one thing you already know for sure: You will be a vegetarian.

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Indonesia, Island of Sumatra

3 years later
Koko

White steam rises up. Tiny droplets cover your coat.

It is hot and humid.

You do not notice the constant chirping of the birds, the rustling of the large and thick leaves, and the permanent movement deep down at the ground, but it still gives you a sense of security.

Look at your leg

The black spot hurts. It is a crusty scar you got when you got caught in a bushfire. Your territory has shrunk significantly since then.

Over and over again you see these dry areas in front of you, without a single tree left.

Everything dead. Then the artificial, straight rows of plants started growing; huge monocultures full of palm oil plants.

Startle

The sound of a chainsaw startles you. You can feel the shock in every limb.

You hear a crackling sound.

Someone has invaded your territory!

Eliminate the intruder
Escape as fast as possible
Indonesia, Island of Sumatra

2 hours later
Soko

You are on the hunt, waiting patiently for the orang-utan to appear.

Your profession as a poacher has become even more complicated since you have to battle with the farmers, animal rights activists, and raw material companies over the resources of the rainforest.

In addition, the ever growing-palm oil plantations are constantly reducing the area of the rainforest.

Stretch your legs

Impatiently, you observe the area around you. It is almost sunset, and you finally have to shoot something.

A dead orang-utan would bring you enough money on the black market to live well for several months.

Get up

Suddenly you hear crunching. About 30 meters in front of you, you see an orang-utan swinging onto the next tree crown.

You hold your breath and point your rifle at it. Through the visor, you can observe the animal more closely. One of its legs looks weird; it seems to be burnt.

The animal sits down. Now!

Unlock your rifle

You reach towards the trigger and pause.

Orang-utans are an endangered species and completely defenseless.

On the other hand… the animal is hurt, sooner or later, it will die anyway.

Your heart is racing.

Pull the trigger
Lower the rifle
Indonesia, Island of Sumatra

10 years later
Toni

You are deeply impressed as Soko guides you through the remnants of the rainforest.

A former poacher, he now works for a local NGO that tries to protect the rainforest.

Soko is satisfied with his job as he finally feels like he is doing something meaningful for the planet. This makes him the ideal interview partner for your book about the illegal expansion of palm oil plantations.

Start the conversation

“Is there something you are dying to share with the readers of my book?”

“I just wish people in richer countries would buy fewer products that have palm oil in them”, Soko says. “Our NGO hardly stands a chance against the global demand for cheap oil.”

You nod. You know for yourself how hard it is to do without palm oil products. But slowly, consumers are waking up. May your book help to change their behavior?

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Indonesia, Island of Sumatra

2 seconds later
Soko

The bullet whizzes past the orang-utan and misses his left ear by a hair’s breadth.

Startled, the animal flinches and disappears in a flash into the treetops of the rainforest.

Swear

At this moment, you hear a rustling right next to you. A hand grabs you, and before you even realize what is happening, you are lying face-down in the mud.

You can smell a foul breath next to your face.

“Poaching is forbidden by Indonesian law!”, a police officer in camouflage uniform screams. “You are hereby arrested!”

Groan

Handcuffs close around your wrists. You can see the satisfaction in his face.

You are not sure whether this law exists, but there is little you could do against the arbitrariness of the authorities. You are stunned by their hypocrisy.

If the authorities would actually care about those animals, they would simply ban the palm oil plantations.

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USA, Houston, Texas

2 weeks earlier
Toni

Since you are together with Edward, you no longer have to worry about money.

He is the manager of a popular candy manufacturer and earns enough money to pay for three weeks of vacation in Sumatra.

You have always dreamed about seeing the last living orang-utans.

Enter departure hall

Just when the both of you are about to share a chocolate bar, you suddenly hear whistles and shouting. A handful of environmental activists are approaching.

They are protesting against air traffic and the reckless treatment of endangered species. You quickly hide your plane tickets in the pocket of your coat.

“Are you sure that you want to fly?”, your boyfriend asks, “We could also watch the orang-utans at the zoo…”

Travel anyways
Agree reluctantly
USA, Houston, Texas

2 years later
Koko

You press your head against the cold window and stare at the couple.

The woman is watching you with a mixture of interest and disappointment and takes some pictures of you.

Bang against the window

You wish with all your might that you could break the glass, escape, get on one of the planes that fly over the zoo every day, and get back to Indonesia to your old home.

You should not have attacked the human with the chainsaw. You did not hit him properly, were stunned by him, and taken into this terrible glass prison.

Peek through the window

Bored, the man pulls out a chocolate bar, and the couple strolls on to the giraffes.

Enraged, you hurl a banana peel after them.

It bounces off the glas and slowly slides down to the ground, leaving a yellow streak behind.

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Indonesia, Island of Sumatra

2 weeks later
Toni

While Edward is staying in the hotel, you are off to the orang-utan reserve.

The jeep drives on a dirt road deeper and deeper into the rainforest for about two hours. Again and again, you see people with chainsaws illegally cutting down trees.

Somewhere in the forest, smoke rises. The jeep comes to a halt, and your native guide offers you a tour through the jungle. However, he is asking for a horrendous price.

Dismiss offer

Ignoring his warnings about illegal poachers and loggers, you plunge into adventure.

You keep going deeper into the forest, fascinated by the vast variety of different plants and the chirping of birds.

Only the sound of a chainsaw irritates you.

Freeze

There is a loud crack right at your side.

The next moment, a giant tree crashes to the ground next to you. Fear spreads through your body, and you freeze. Suddenly you realize that you are face-to-face with an orang-utan.

You stare at the prominent scar the animal has on its leg. Still unable to move, the animal approaches you.

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