When I was younger, I wanted a pet lion. I am of the age that grew up watching Daktari on the TV. I also read Born Free, and my parents bought me a big cat book for my birthday when I was six. I still have it. I thought the lion would be my best friend.
As I grew up, our relationship with animals became more clear to me. That humans were the most powerful of all. Even the lion needed us to survive, protect his habitat. Stop hunting him. It was a hard lesson to learn.
When I was about thirteen, my mother told us all she'd had enough of eating animals and that if we wanted to eat them, well, we'd have to cook them ourselves. So, I was thrown into vegetarianism. She explained why we were doing it, and I think I just looked at the facts and realised too that I could remain perfectly healthy without needing any animal to be killed for my plate.
I turned vegan when I was 16, and I lasted about a year or two then. I tried again in my twenties and thirties, but it was always something that I'd crave. Milk chocolate, mainly. But then I watched the Earthlings documentary. It is a bit like Cowspiracy, or Seaspiracy. A hard but truthful watch.
It was the line in the sand for me. So now, I've been vegan for the best part of eight or nine years. I try not to buy products that have caused animal suffering. It's easy to replace so many house cleaning products these days, or shampoos too. I'm not 100% perfect. Sure, I make mistakes and buy some things. I'm currently trying very hard to find some good vegan trainers. But, I will get there.
Why am I telling you all this? I suppose for those who read my books, it might help explain why Professor Elizabeth Green is who she is.
My mother was a great influence when writing the character. I am so proud of her. She was ahead of her time. She was kind to animals. Rescued wildlife, stray cats and dogs. Would support the local rescue centres. As an aside, she didn't just care about animals. She cared about people. She used to point out anything she thought was wrong, wherever she was. She'd go into toy shops and complain about why all the boys toys were blue and girls toys pink. It was embarrassing, but she was right.
Sometimes, pointing out the need for change makes a person unpopular. Professor Elizabeth Green does not care about being unpopular. She speaks truth to power. That with power comes responsibility. I learnt that lesson from my mother. I miss her so.
I hope you have an animal in your life. Maybe a cat or dog, who brings you joy. It really is one of the best feelings. Hug those animals close to you, and they will repay you ten fold.