Okra of Time

Image from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

A few years ago, I wrote an article for Splice Today in which I proposed a vegan run of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. While I’m an animal activist, I tried to make clear I didn’t think my proposal had much political significance. It was mostly a way to bring fresh life to my favorite game, which I’d beaten many times before.

I described the rules in a broad terms: “The goal is to beat the game while minimizing harm to animals or seemingly-sentient creatures, and using their byproducts as infrequently as possible. In short: no riding. No capturing or hurting cuccos. No drinking milk. No capturing fish. No capturing poes or fairies. Killing animals or sentient creatures in self-defense is fine.”

Not too long after I wrote the article, I completed my first vegan run. Perhaps the most difficult trick I achieved was glitching inside Lord Jabu Jabu without feeding him a fish. This is about as easy as tricks get for elite speedrunners like ZFG and Narcissa Wright, but, for me, it took quite a bit of trial and error! Needless to say, while I love video games, I’m not especially good at them.

Having completed my initial run, I wanted to try again and tighten my self-imposed strictures. I hoped to beat the game without a bomb bag, which is made from a dodongo’s stomach. I also wanted to acquire the Biggoron’s Sword without making him eye drops from a frog. The latter was a completely optional quest, but I hoped to see as much of the game as possible.

Searching for help, I logged onto the Ocarina of Time speedrunning Discord. Players there informed me I needed to get bombchus early to bypass the bomb bag. These were located in the bottom of the well, a location typically unavailable until later in the game. I managed to glitch down there, but couldn’t access the bombchus no matter how hard I tried.

I should say a few words about how I was playing. I was using an emulator, which, as I understand it, isn’t ideal. I was also using a knock-off USB controller. Both of these could have made intricate tricks more difficult. But, again, I’m not great at video games! Occam’s Razor suggests I’m just bad, and my trouble wasn’t routed in technological problems.

Acquiring the Biggoron’s Sword was apparently so complicated the players on Discord didn’t even bother explaining it to me. They merely said I should come back when I was at that point in the game. Given I’d come up short in the bottom of the well, this didn’t inspire a lot of confidence. (As I write this, I realize I’m also unsure how I got past Talon at Hyrule Castle.)

Anyway, I have two young children now, so I haven’t had much of an opportunity to play. But once they get older and more self-sufficient, I want to give my challenge another shot. New tricks are constantly being discovered in Ocarina of Time. I only hope players will find some that make my vegan run a little easier!

Jon Hochschartner is the author of a number of books about animal-rights history, including The Animals’ Freedom Fighter, Ingrid Newkirk, and Puppy Killer, Leave Town. He blogs at SlaughterFreeAmerica.Substack.com.