So many people romanticize writing. And I get it. But I never once wanted to be a writer. I write because I have to. Because it's literally a matter of life or death.

Sixteen years ago, I learned about factory farming and slaughterhouses. And what I learned was so horrifying, so shocking, so totally devastating, it changed my life in an instant:

—Pigs used for breeding are confined in cages so small, they can barely even move, let alone turn around. Their piglets' tails are cut off and the ends of their teeth are clipped with pliers (both without anesthesia). At slaughter plants, they can be fully conscious when dunked into the scalding tanks.

—Cows have their flesh burned by branding irons, their horns chopped off, and their testicles removed, all without anesthesia. During the slaughter process, they can be skinned alive, fully conscious.

—Chickens in the egg industry are confined in cages so small they can't even spread their wings. At hatcheries, male chicks—who have no economic value to the egg industry—are often “discarded” by being thrown into high-speed grinders (alive). Female chicks have part of their beaks seared off their faces with a hot blade.

Overnight, I went from eating meat at every single meal to being a vegetarian. Surprisingly, the salvation of the planet and my own good health (both byproducts of a veg diet) did not motivate me at all to stick with the lifestyle. My unwavering dedication to vegetarianism was solely because of the animals—I could not and would not call myself an “animal lover” while contributing to their torture and slaughter.

After many years as a vegetarian, then vegan, it occurred to me that my abstaining from animal products wasn't enough. Yes, as a vegan, I was “doing my part,” but what about the other 10 billion land animals per year (in the U.S. alone) that were still suffering the cruelest, most unspeakable atrocities? It became increasingly clear to me that I had to do something to make a difference. So I left my six-figure-a-year career as an agent at Ford Models to become an animal rights activist. And after failing to find a job at a nonprofit organization, I had the idea to write Skinny Bitch. If people learned what they were contributing to every time they ate meat, eggs, or dairy, surely they would be just as motivated as I was to change. Yet how many people will willingly read about the slaughterhouse worker who sliced off the end of a live hog's nose “just like a piece of bologna”? Or that the consumption of meat and dairy have been linked to cancer and obesity? Or that animal agriculture is the number one cause of global warming, trumping all transportation combined? Indeed, the title, cover art, and overall shelf appeal of the book all scream “vapid.” Deliberately. This speaks to the climate we live in. Yet the book's intent and content completely belie its packaging.

I hate writing. There are a million other things I'd rather be doing. I write because I have to. Because if I feel so strongly about what is happening to animals, and I don't do anything to help them, who will?