On Walking at Night and Thinking About Animals

Marla Rose
4 min readOct 27, 2021

Not too long ago, I posted about a wish I had on a beautiful night to just be able to take a walk. I knew if I could just walk for a couple of miles, that could quell my restlessness. It was 3:00 in the morning, though. I couldn’t go out for a walk, not safely. If I’d caved to this craving for a walk and something had happened to me, well, you know what they’d say. I’d have no one to blame but myself, they would say. I stayed in bed instead, wide awake.

It made me wish that this fear of unknown eyes tracking you and sizing you up was never a factor, that if any of us felt compelled to take a walk in the middle of the night, there should be nothing to stop us. I have struggled my whole life with how my idealistic notions bump up against reality and the other night in the throes of insomnia was no exception.

Typing on my phone in bed in the dark about my desire to walk, I wrote…

“I guess there’s never been an idyllic time when walking by ourselves at night was considered a prudent choice. There have always been eyes with sharp night vision watching us from behind trees and obscured by foliage; this knowing is wired into our DNA. We have endless cautionary tales to reinforce what can happen if you wander at night, from fiction (Red Riding Hood) to nonfiction (Jack the Ripper).”

These are the grim and Grimm stories told to us as children throughout human history to keep us from becoming cautionary tales ourselves. That night, as I tried to sleep but kept thinking about the hoodie I wanted to put on, my thoughts eventually turned away from my own frustration. I realized that maybe this lifelong unwillingness to comply with aspects of what has been called “the real world” is part of why I am vegan now.

I don’t want to inflict pain and terror, as simple and possibly naive as that. As much as I don’t want to be prey, I also don’t want to be a predator. I don’t want my appetites to cause other beings to need to cower, to experience so much suffering. Even if I am not directly the cause of another’s rightful fear and dread, I don’t want to be indirectly responsible by supporting the systems that turn terrorized individuals into lifeless products on shelves marked for consumption. I just don’t want to participate. I know how it feels to be afraid that…