Reciting her first original poem into the microphone, UNC junior Amanda Meister hit Monday’s Open Mic Night with her phone in hand, making audience members question the choices they make every day.
Having started her poem her senior year of high school, Meister has been tweaking and editing her poem up until her performance. Wanting others to confront their own truths, the nursing major’s spoken word highlighted not only her passion for veganism, but her desire to put questions in people’s minds.
“I wanted people to think about it, and when they walk away, think about, ‘Oh, why do I eat meat? Is it just because I’ve done it since I was a kid, and that’s the only way I know?’” Meister said. “I really want them to question for themselves, ‘Why do I eat meat? Is it something I need to do, and is it something that even serves me in my life?’”
According to Meister, the goal wasn’t to definitively say what is right and what is wrong, but rather to bring up a topic others may never have considered. Meister herself started being vegetarian when she was in eighth grade, and went five years before moving onto veganism; altogether, she wasn’t eaten meat in about a decade. Her current lifestyle choice was sparked by high cholesterol she had when she was younger, as well as a viewing of the 2010 Netflix documentary “Vegucated,” after which she stopped contributing to the dairy and egg industry as well as the meat industry. However, for Meister, veganism is more about ethics and the environment rather than health.
“I think the part where that got conveyed is the part where I say, ‘You were in the dark before when you were a kid, and that’s okay, but now you’re grown, and right at this moment there’s an animal being killed for you to eat, and you don’t think twice about it,’” Meister said. “Tomorrow morning you’ll wake up and have bacon and it won’t be anything to you but it is something for that animal in that moment.”
While early drafts of the poem were geared more towards other vegans, Meister wanted to make her words more relatable to her audience and avoid shutting them out. Thus, she edited her poem with open mic night in mind.
“I don’t want to say, ‘Hey, you need to think this way,’ like, it’s up to you ultimately, but think about it, think about your choices,” Meister said.
When onstage, Meister said she didn’t feel nervous because of how much the message means to her, and said it conveyed everything she wanted it to.
“That’s what mattered to me, like being out there, is that the message matters and if it reaches one person, then I’m content and I’m happy,” Meister said.