Dear Non-Vegan: There’s Something you Won’t let me Say.

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Lorelei Plotczyk

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Kathy Parker’s article Dear Vegan, There’s Something I Have to Say, garnered a lot of attention and discussion here on Elephant Journal.

It’s framed as a heartfelt plea for mutual respect to those she feels has insulted her—vegans.

But a closer looks shows a “straw man” argument that generalizes an entire group. It doesn’t address the central point of the diverse vegan movement: The great harm we do to animals to commodify them is unnecessary and we can make other choices.

Wait! Have I lost you? Please read that again. Non-vegans—my friends, family or strangers—I have not insulted you or said anything mean or untrue. It’s uncomfortable for me, too. But I’ve only stated a simple truth that I, too, was socially conditioned for most of my life to avoid discussing and see as a personal attack.

The world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, declared years ago that vegan diets are healthful and appropriate for humanity, and we have animal-free options for fashion, entertainment, and otherwise.

So why do most of us continue to intentionally and avoidably violate other sentient individuals, or pay for others to do it?

Again, for those with access and autonomy, doing so is a choice.

It’s hard to answer this. Really hard. When we instead just complain about how some vegans were rude, we absolve ourselves of responsibility for this choice while simultaneously looking for validation.

No, unfortunately not everyone communicates kindly or effectively. But we can all agree that doing unnecessary harm to others is wrong. We either hold ourselves accountable for such harm, or we don’t. There’s no discourse, compromise, or dialogue needed to dilute and confuse this point. There’s no need to “shoot the messengers,” even if their words figuratively cut deep.

Aren’t physical acts of violence against the defenseless far worse than any verbal objections to them?

When we betray the vulnerable for reasons that are undeniably selfish, we instinctively want to silence the moral minority pointing this out.

Stereotyping, mischaracterizing and further marginalizing vegans helps accomplish this.

Let’s face it. The violence of animal agriculture, even under the best of conditions, flies right off our collective radar because we’re brought up to avoid acknowledging it. It’s as invisible and unspoken as it is omnipresent. Using animals is seen as an entitlement. We legally violate and fatally harm them depending on what kind of fur, feathers, or fins they were born with. We squander resources to grow large piles of plants to reduce them into smaller piles of flesh, secretions and skin (with a side of pollution)—while millions starve and the planet suffers along with our collective health.

With many historic entitlements of the dominant culture, it’s only seen in hindsight how cruel and unnecessary they were. As vegans—most previously complicit ourselves, including yours truly!—we’re saying today this is needless and wasteful, and it’s time to move on.

But it comes at an emotional price beyond feeling powerless to stop the slaughter. It’s been documented in a published Harvard research paper that people are often mocked when it’s simply discovered they are vegetarian. As such, those who are clear and assertive in their vegan advocacy are frequently ostracized. This runs the gamut from accusations of moral superiority to “cult member” or “Nazi.”

Yet without exceptions noted, Parker writes that vegans do the following and more:

• Spout condemnation, judgment, and hate
• Taint the world with bigotry, intolerance, narrow-mindedness
• Divide communities with anger and hostility

Meanwhile, many tolerant and accomplished individuals including MLK Jr’s late wife Coretta Scott King and his oldest son Dexter Scott King, US Senator Corey Booker and Congressman Ted Deutch and even Stevie Wonder are vegan, because veganism is a social justice movement for people, planet and animals.

Rather than speaking out about it, should they instead keep the peace in the name of conformity and destruction? Because people might feel judged?

In a comment, Parker says she and her husband give their farmed animals “the best life possible.” The caveat, of course, is that she’s only referring to what’s possible within the context of farming them for food—in which even the best life possible involves being violated in a myriad of ways and is almost always cut tragically short. Now, that bloody hurts.


Is that really all that’s possible? Is that good enough, let alone better or best, for anyone? Of course not. At vegan farm sanctuaries (many run by former animal farmers), the animals live out their days without being bred, used or slaughtered.

But because the vegan movement challenges our acquired tastes, habits and traditions, it tends to hit a wall of cognitive dissonance. And that feels deeply uncomfortable.

Vegans cause that feeling, not our own harmful actions.


“Right!” Answers the dominant culture. “Have a free-range chicken wing, and tell those vegans to stop attacking us!”




Author: Lorelei Plotczyk

Image: Author’s own 

Editor: Renée Picard


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Lorelei Plotczyk

Lorelei Plotczyk, named a 2016 Unsung Vegan Hero by the Lisa Shapiro Awards, shares the vegan message with humor, sensitivity and logic. After a long stint in SoCal working in television when not touring as an indie bassist, she now works in content marketing and lives/writes in the Massachusetts countryside with her husband, a vegan beer-brewing scientist. Her projects include Truth or Drought, Brain on Hugs & Eat Plants / Drink Beer.



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Joellen Anderson Jul 7, 2017 7:01pm

Thank you for writing this response!!! How I summarize the "Dear Vegan" article: "If you wouldn't point out the cruelty in my lifestyle then the other people living it and I would listen to you more. However since you made us uncomfortable we won't listen to you." It goes right along with men feeling hurt for women pointing out their misogyny and white people feeling hurt for people of color calling out their racism....It is 100% about what is right and wrong and 0% about how offended you are for being told you are problematic!!

Lisa Potts Jan 25, 2017 4:31am

Lorelei Plotczyk being a vegan is about everything. Not just food. Is everything you put in your body vegan. All the lotions, soaps clothing etc?? If not that could be considred abuse and senseless murders as well. Im guessing no. So thats where the ego and the high and mighty attitudes that others think is there comes in. You just make your choices, lead by example mind your business and the world will evolve better by example than judgement. It takes time for people to evolve and make diffrent choices.

Lisa Potts Jan 25, 2017 4:23am

Well. Put.. thank you for clarifying.

Lisa Potts Jan 25, 2017 4:20am

Agreed! Well said!

Laura Maschal Jan 1, 2017 1:39pm

All very good points. i only one I would add is that not only are we enculturated to meat eating, we are legislated out of knowing exactly what happens on factory farms.

Laura Löwenherz Nov 15, 2016 7:26pm

I found this article and your website after you were a guest on the VWPA podcast! I absoluetely love love love this piece! This is one of the best things I've ever read, beautifully written. THANK YOU!!!!!

Lorelei Plotczyk Oct 22, 2016 4:30pm

Zeb Zner A "peaceful meal" doesn't involve the products of intentional, preventable violence. You have the same choice to opt out of that violence as I do. "Live and let live" is exactly what I'm doing, while you are paying others to kill. Literally. It doesn't require moral superiority to make other choices, and there is no need to fixate on someone's perceived moral superiority or your own moral inferiority when the true victims are unable to worry about those things, they just want to live. The most basic thing anyone wants. I recommend Robert Grillo's book Farm to Fable, because a good amount of social conditioning got you to the point you're at and only you can undo it. I was there once too. Best.

Lorelei Plotczyk Oct 22, 2016 4:25pm

Using the fact that some pigs may eat their own young as a moral compass for your own violent behavior to kill pigs yourself is victim blaming. Their lack of a more advanced moral compass is not a rationalization for brutalizing them, as a moral being yourself. Again, you are blaming them for the problem you yourself created by breeding them into a commodified, doomed existence. Is the mother animal so nasty she doesn’t deserve to live? Don’t we ourselves become just as nasty when we arbitrarily decide to kill them because we didn’t like them or think they’re not good or smart enough? And which is it – are you “loving” and “humane” to the animals you breed into existence, or are you just as nasty as they are? (Or far more so, since you have a far more advanced moral and intellectual capacity to understand right from wrong?) Pigs have the intelligence of human 3-year-olds. I don’t put my “time, energy and money” into “eating a vegan lifestyle,” and it certainly doesn’t prevent me from caring about people, too. (I don’t kill and eat people, either.) In my household we just reach for other products on the shelf. We grow a portion of our own produce, but we haven’t inflicted a self-imposed lifestyle on ourselves by “living off the land” that obsensibly requires us to kill animals on said plant-bearing land when we are also surrounded by a civilization that removes that “need” altogether. We don't waste food, and the food itelf doesn’t need its own food produced to begin with. Any person can get their sustenance from plants alone, it doesn’t require any special biological makeup nor a “good for you that you can do that” type response. Humans are opportunistic rather than obligate omnivores with the ability to be 100% herbivorous. No magic there. Animal-based foods are an unnecessary extravagance that require the most resources to produce while feeding the fewest people even under the best possible and most “sustainable” production conditions, which is common sense based on trophic levels and is also confirmed by the many scientific and academic sources I carefully compiled and linked to above for my organization Truth or Drought, which if you had even the slightest true interest in preventing human hunger you would read with extreme interest rather than ignore outright. In addition to being vegan myself, I support A Well-Fed World, who are “a hunger relief and animal protection organization chipping away at two of the world’s most immense, unnecessary and unconscionable forms of suffering: the suffering of people hungry from lack of food, and the suffering of animals used and abused for food.” The two go hand in hand. If you want “peace,” you can stop inflicting the total opposite of peace, which is violence, on others, just as all these former animal farmers have done after a lot of messy, honest, painful soul-searching. In the meantime, the only one who has to live with this irreconcilable ethical contradiction is you, but the animals you entrust and then betray actually have to die for it.

Lorelei Plotczyk Oct 22, 2016 4:24pm

Erin Boone You commented on an article I wrote, which is on a public forum, and it’s neither immature nor an invasion of your peace for me to respond thoughtfully to your critique of my work and my comments. Killing an animal for food when you can instead get sustenance from plants, as the nutrition-filled animals did themselves, is nothing to brag about. It requires becoming desensitized from inflicting violence on others, an aversion we are born with. Since you literally traffic in death, which is how former pig farmer turned vegan Bob Comis describes his own former profession, you are the wolf minding the hen house telling me how much you care for the ones you kill. Yet you are these animals’ killer and predator, and you profit from their slaughter. And you’re depicting yourself as lovingly using a baby monitor to care for the ones you kill (!), a particularly double-faced move. In reality, you are “checking on” these animals and saving their babies not because you’re like their mommy – who would gladly die to save their lives – you do this purely so you can kill them yourself before someone else can. Taking care of someone does not involve killing them. Killing someone is clearly the opposite of taking care of them and is the ultimate betrayal of earned trust. When we take care of someone, we make sure that nothing bad happens to them and we make sure they don’t die. You, on the other hand, ensure they die via 100% intentional, preventable slaughter – and in the prime of their lives, no less. You may just dig further into the twisted logic that you are taking care of the ones you kill. Again, it’s not my job to “win your over,” I’m speaking the truth with zero expectations and it’s up to you what you do with it. It took me years to deprogram myself from such absurd social conditioning. The idea of preventing “waste” of an animal you specifically brought into this world to kill is a fictional device only applied to the animals we want to eat while all other animals are excluded from this device. This is cultural conditioning rather than critical thinking. This alleged “waste” is a problem you yourself created and solved all at the same time. The body of the pig would not have been killed or potentially “wasted” unless you have bred the pig into existence to be farmed, despite a lack of a biological need to farm or eat pigs. And if we were truly concerned about waste, we would get our nutrients directly from the source rather than through an animal, which inherently requires waste and destruction. And of course, the true waste remains. For example, one’s eyeball is created for sight, not to be eaten. The sight was far more valuable than its caloric content to someone who could easily obtain calories from plants instead.

Zeb Zner Oct 20, 2016 12:24am

Lorelei Plotczyk I once dated a vegan. I respected her choice to be vegan, but she didn't reciprocate, Never a peaceful meal, allows derogatory comments about how things smelled, etc. I'm glad you have a choice, good for you. But please, the moral superiority is truly getting old. Live and let live.

Erin Boone Oct 19, 2016 2:23pm

Lorelei Plotczyk, I sustainably farm and most of my friends do as well in this new age of farming. I have killed many animals by my own hand and every bit of them went to a good use (no waste). You didn't hear me at all in my piece and that's your prerogative but as someone who has actually lived off the land (not purchased her food in little square boxes in the store...) and harvested her own food (animal based and otherwise) I am afraid you will never be able to win over people like myself to your camp. I am loving and humane to my animals, even in death. Good farmers set up baby monitors and alarms to check on kidding goats and chase pigs through the woods for hours to try to find their litters before they eat them (bc yes, a healthy mother pig will eat her young when they are born if she feels there are too many of them...) I am glad you are able to eat a vegan lifestyle. I am more focused on putting my time and energy and money into issues like making sure that children in Aleppo (and our own nation, both are my pet projects right now) actually have ANY food to eat, animal based or otherwise. Please be mature, agree to disagree and leave me in peace in the future. Thank you.

Lorelei Plotczyk Oct 19, 2016 5:11am

Asia Salas, It's only possible to have a meaningful conversation about why you choose to inflict intentional, preventable harm on the most vunerable among us if you can agree to stop fixating on feeling judged by vegans for doing so. The same Harvard research study I wrote about shows that people dramatically over-exaggerate the moral superiority vegans allegedly feel over others. People do this because they fear valid moral reproach, and it allows them to distract from the message over to a critique of the messenger. There is no reason to fixate on your exaggerated self-protective perception of vegans being "snobby" or "holier than thou," just as there would be no reason to feel that people asking dog meat consumers to make other choices fit that description. Truly, this gets so tiring. The consequences of mass slaughter are far worse than hurt feelings. Regarding your health experience, I've said this many times before, but no animal's flesh or fluid is needed to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or deficiency. All major food and dietetic organizations, including the world's largest, are clear about this. If you've been led to believe otherwise, you've been lied to, and you were happy to confirm their pro-meat bias. I literally did this same thing as a teenage vegan. I got sick, and of course authority figures said it was because I didn't eat flesh or secretions, and I chose to uncritically believe them. It is true that if you've been eating one way since early childhood and then you change, it could present a challenge, but as I learned, there is not one external nutrient humans can't obtain from the tens of thousands of edible plant (and bacteria) species we share this planet with, so you could have switched out the types of plant foods with which you were replacing animal foods for similar results. And of course you would have needed to take a B12 supplement made from bacteria in isolation, which non-vegans recieve in the form of B12 supplemented animals. There is absolutely no scientific support for the belief that some people just "need" to feed on animal bodies while other can be vegan. I'm glad you like conversing with vegans and that you at least partially recognize that bringing someone into this world specifically to violently end their life in its prime for a trivial, selfish reason is cruel. If you don't want to be cruel to someone, don't kill them. The one thing anyone will fight like hell to protect is their own life and that of their offspring. As a consumer of their bodies, that is what you take away from them, even under the best of farming conditions. To abandon your concern for someone specifically at the point they have been sufficiently fattened up to be annihilated on your behalf is the epitome of cruel.

Lorelei Plotczyk Oct 19, 2016 4:44am

Erin, so the problem is not with those who actually, literally, aggressively attack and kill others (or pay others to do so) for their habitual pleasure, it's with those who ask them to stop doing that, who are therefore figuratively "attacking" others? How silly, and sad. To quote Robert Grillo, "Characterizing animal advocates as the problem is part of a concerted effort to invalidate the animal liberation movement and reinforce social and cultural norms." This is what you're doing, and it's extremely common. The idea that it's wrong to inflict intentional, preventable harm on others is not a vegan value. These are universal human values. To quote Mylan Engel, "Your beliefs and values already commit you to the immorality of eating meat." As a non-vegan, your behavior is simply not matching your values. The responsibility to stop inflicting harm on the most vulnerable among us, who cannot defend themselves or join in this conversation yet are currently treated as disposable anonymous commodities subject to a violent bloody ending, is yours and that of every other non-vegan. It's not my responsibility to help you understand this in exactly the right way you demand, but I'll certainly never stop trying. The same people who say veganism is a "privilege" are eating the animal-derived foods that actively create global scarcity and drive up the prices of staple crops. The “privilege” accusation is paradoxical. These people are saying that those who need to violate and slaughter animals for their very survival due to their poverty and/or geography (actually an extremely complex problem with solutions other than livestock, who have often wiped out ancient crops and water sources) somehow excuses or justifies those doing so for pleasure. But wouldn't the latter group be jeopardizing the survival of the former group, since it drives up the cost of feed for everyone and uses vastly more natural resources? Why would someoneone choose to actively create more food scarcity in the name of their own extravagant privilege to routinely eat fattened up cows, pigs, chickens, etc. in 100% non-survival situations when they can simply reach for less resource-intensive plant foods at the grocery store? And is this why you personally support violating/slaughtering animals? Is that why you steal, too; because some people have to steal to survive, and not stealing is a "privilege?" Eating an animal-based diet despite having access to an abundant plant-based one, thereby actively helping to create scarcity around the world in which 21,000 people A DAY starve, along with environmental devastation of epic proportions, is problematic. Yet few can admit this, due precisely to this very privilege that entitles us to feed on the bodies of others fattened up with plants, only 10% of which on average are converted to meat, milk or eggs due to trophic levels. Just think of how many young, white, well-off women and men do exactly that, yet the ones among that group (and many beyond it) who are awakening to this crime against humanity and animals and maybe don't express it perfectly yet are the target of your criticism. If you have the ability to stop harming others and use fewer resources in the process, rejecting that ability on the grounds that it's a privilge is illogical and also inconsistent due to the many other privileges you take advantage of as a Westerner with zero qualms about doing so.

Lorelei Plotczyk Oct 19, 2016 4:02am

How do you know someone is anticipating moral reproach? They'll shoot the messenger.

Zeb Zner Oct 16, 2016 4:53am

Oh, this title is HILARIOUS. Something we won't let vegans say? They tell anyone and everyone all about their veganism! How do you know if someone's a vegan? They'll tell you!

Erin Boone Oct 8, 2016 8:24pm

I think you missed the original author's point. Veganism is often seen as a movement of privledge in this nation and often that privledge is one taken up by young, white, well-off women. Simultaneously, they are often youthful and immature (related only to age and life experience, not to veganism). Therefore they attack others who don't share their viewpoints and life choices, as any immature person with strong convinctions is apt to do. Again, these attacks are based only in youthful immaturity, not in the movement iteself. The problem is not with the writer of the non-vegan article, the problem is with those in the vegan movement who are continually attacking others out of their own immaturity and insecurity because it's a movement that often attracts youth with strong values who have perhaps not personally grown enough yet to express their values in a way that doesn't involve an attack on those who do not espouse their values. There are many happy, healthy mature vegans in this world and they have no requirement to "conform" or "remain silent" as you suggest that the "opposition" wants them too. But anytime a movement is filled with quite a few people who, for personal/personality reasons completely seperate from the movement, are aggressive, demeaning and rude to others the movement itself with be tainted by their negativity. If you want this perception to change, don't lash back at the non-vegan writer... grow and educate the youthful and well-intentioned members of your community who are projecting this impression.

Cameron Lee-Brown Oct 8, 2016 3:09am

Thankyou for writing this. I haven't read the other article, but it sounds like a spouting stream of defensive psycho-babble. I try and be empathetic towards non-vegans, but as soon as they slight me or carry or about how idiotic it is to not eat animals, they have drawn first blood and I will go straight for the throat... after all that's exactly what animal agriculture does, and you know the saying goes, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em". It's exactly true what you say, they have a blind spot about their guilt. We all have blind spots when it comes to one thing or another, but we - as vegans - are particularly apt about seeing this in people... for obvious reasons. Fact is, there is a mass enslavement and genocide going on - a war in nature and I am not on the side with th majority of the human side. I really hope that it's true that at some stage it will be something people look back on with shame and regret, but it's certainly not going to be the case while idiots spread anti-vegan propaganda, and popularise vegan shaming etc.

Marissa Elizabeth Oct 5, 2016 12:46pm

Thank you SO much for your words. I wish i could hug you❤ thank you

Jeremiah Boothe Oct 5, 2016 12:18am

Amazing and well written article! I'm someone that doesn't sugar coat my words very often. I have no tolerance for victimizers of any sort and I feel it is cowardly to sit by and not say something while people feel good about consuming the byproducts of their victims. I would support any laws that would punish them as criminals for their abuses against animals.

Krista Behymer Oct 4, 2016 7:50pm

Thank you, this is beautiful.

Ed Hare Oct 4, 2016 12:37pm

I posted a bit more on the EJ Facebook, page, but that doesn't appear here, so let me repost it. When a vegan can sit at a meal with me while I enjoy a steak dinner with no more judgement than I have for her beans and potatoes, then we will be on equal footing. The article may not be "in your face," but it is judgmental and carries an air of superiority that I find offputting. I'd not invite the author to dinner at my favorite restaurant, that's for sure. The article is also a bit inaccurate. First, as the link I posted shows, plants are also seemingly sentient, in a different way than animals, but a google on plant conciousness studies will show some interesting results. The hunger problems in the world do NOT come from farmland being devoted to animal-feed crops. There is more than enough food resources to feed everyone. The food shortages arise from political causes, as one group of people in power use food to manipulate another, or, in areas that are anarchistic, the people with the guns steal and sell any food that is brought in from outside, or, the threats of violence keep people from bringing in food. Should we do a better job at managing food animals humanely? I think the answer is yes, but how will we do the same for plants? But it is clear from our anatomy that humans evolved as omnivores, so although I have no objections over those that choose to be vegan, I sure would appreciate the same courtesy back to me. How would vegans feel if they saw article after article criticizing them for their choices?

Vanessa Melanie Oct 4, 2016 12:33pm

Beautiful! So well written. I'm sure Kathy will continue to see herself as a victim however. The only alternative is responsibility taking and I don't think she is anywhere near ready for that, given her comment below. She, and others who claim to be victims of people who are merely pointing out uncomfortable facts in rational ways, often seem to believe that if they can just string enough floaty pseudo-academic spiritual sounding words and quotes together they will somehow be absolved of their guilt, even to themselves. When they discover this does not work, and no one is fooled, least of all themselves, they become angry at the person they feel "exposed" them (to their own repressed guilt). Without ever confronting the underlying guilt as to why they feel so exposed and compelled to attack or play victim in the first place. It takes incredible energy to avoid responsibility taking. People who do this often feel depressed as a result. Of course this leads them to look for someone to blame (to further avoid responsibility). Which is clearly what inspired Kathy's article to begin with. Blaming vegans rather than confronting her clear discomfort with her own morals and contradictionary actions. Of course she will never allow herself to see this. Her psyche won't allow it or her entire self structure would crumble. So if she reads this I would imagine more of the same will follow; pseudo academic spiritual self justification and attacks on a community (vegans) or an individual (vegan) to avoid confronting the deeply uncomfortable issues within.

Lorelei Plotczyk Oct 4, 2016 12:23pm

Are you aware you're actually bringing up yet another reason to go vegan? Humans require plants to sustain ourselves, but we don't require any animal's flesh or secretions. As mentioned in my article, per the laws of trophic levels, you're using FAR more plants by using animals, and this increases the higher up the chain you go. The reason this is a terrible thing is not because plants are sentient (because they aren't, see below). It's terrible because growing far more plants than would otherwise be needed takes a serious toll on the environment, overshooting our available resources and destroying ecosystems, while raising prices of staple crops while people starve. 45% of our planet is being used for this unending cycle of bred and slaughtered farmed animals and their downstream crop production, per the International Livestock Research Institute, killing as many plants and animals as possible. Is that a wise use of plants? If the plants can think, they must be thinking what an unthinkably wasteful bunch of monsters we are. Scientists say this process is "likely the leading cause of modern species extinctions." But back to your concern about whether plants think. "Plant perception or biocommunication is the paranormal idea that plants are sentient, that they respond to humans in a manner that amounts to ESP, and that they experience pain and fear. The idea is not accepted, as plants lack a nervous system.[1][2][3][4] Paranormal claims in regard to plant perception are considered to be pseudoscience by the scientific community.[1][2][5][6]" On the other hand, a prominent international group of cognitive neuroscientists, neuropharmacologists, neurophysiologists, neuroanatomists and computational neuroscientists signed The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness confirming animal sentience, in many cases similar to that of humans. So we have scientific consensus that other animals definitely experience pain and fear like we do, but we have unsubstantiated speculation that plants might experience some unknown level of perception despite a lack of a nervous system. If the latter is a real concern for you, you should go vegan. (You can also start breaking into hot cars to save dying houseplants and see how that goes over!) If your goal is to inflict the MOST pain possible on sentient beings and those who may possibly experience some level of unconfirmed perception, you can use as many plants AND animals as possible by not being vegan.

Ed Hare Oct 4, 2016 11:06am

Do plants also think?

Losang Dondrub Oct 4, 2016 4:15am

Lorelei Plotczyk Church.