I’m a vegetarian and very much active in regards to how I feel about animal rights and protecting animals and giving animals a voice. But at the same time, I appreciate and respect other people’s decisions to eat meat. The only thing that I hope is that people are educated, that they’re aware, that they’re living a conscious lifestyle.
This won’t be one of those writings where you end up feeling like s*** about yourself, I promise. You also won’t see gruesome pictures of tortured farm animals. But while reading, please keep in mind that I’m not a nutrition expert. This is one story: mine. Do what is right for you and what best suits your beliefs.
I’ve always loved animals. We had a wonderful German Shepherd named Dora when I was little and she and her puppies brought me endless joy. She was so gentle, loving and protective towards us all. Her beautiful brown eyes would shine adoration and it was impossible not to love her back. I seemed to love everything furry and cute at the time. When I was about twelve or thirteen I discovered Steve Irwin on the Animal Channel. He made me love everything flying, crawling, climbing and everything in between (furry or not). He was passionate, loving and broken-hearted whenever he saw an animal suffer. I felt like I understood and found myself looking at wildlife from a different perspective. I found I wanted to understand and help protect needless suffering. I wanted to help others respect animals- not as lower beings, but our equals.
“We don’t own the planet Earth, we belong to it. And we must share it with our wildlife.”
It didn’t keep me from eating meat, though. I never saw the piece of meat on my plate as something that had beautiful brown eyes and a life that I was so very inclined to protect. I didn’t want to see it as something that used to have a heartbeat. I also didn’t bother worrying about where my meat came from. I was always heartbroken on the other side, when I’d see cattle crammed on a truck and saw the license plates and saw how many kilometres the poor animals had had to travel. I was a total hypocrite.
As I grew a little older, I thought a lot about my double standards. I wanted to stop eating meat, but found it hard, because I was still living with my meat-eating parents and my then boyfriend (now husband). We live by ourselves now and that’s when I chose to change my eating habits. It was all finalised a little before the end of 2014 when I went to the grocery store and we had our dog with us. I didn’t want to leave her alone in the car, so I stayed behind and waited for my hubby. A minute later a big truck pulled up and parked. It was carrying two big wagons of cows from Germany. I live in Slovenia. The cows were making these horrible sounds and it sounded as if they were in horrible pain and crying out. That’s when I broke down. I was heart-broken and there was nothing to do, but face my hypocrisy head on. These poor beings were suffering and I was helping them suffer. I chose to eat their flesh. I was responsible. That’s what did it for me. I understood what my problem with today’s meat distribution is. I can understand that eating meat is a fact of life for some and they live their life as a part of the food chain. But why do we have too keep animals standing on bars in small cages, never seeing the light of day and after we’ve tortured them with hell on Earth, we send them across the continent, tied down, a lot of times without water and fresh hay? There is no excuse. As long as we buy this kind of meat, we’ll be responsible for the suffering. It’s as simple as that. I choose not to be a part of it.
“The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?”
After this revelation, I only ate fish and chicken. We are lucky to be able to get chickens from a family member and I’ve seen the way these chickens live, eat and the way they’re taken care of. I only buy free range eggs and stopped eating any sort of sausage. Have you seen those poor chickens in those cages? Have you seen the way the chickens get treated in the meat industry? No, thanks. So I started eating less and less of the chicken and have finally chosen to not eat meat at all. And since my decision happened gradually, it wasn’t hard at all.
I get asked a lot about what I eat and about what my husband eats (since he’s still a meat-eater), plus why I’m not thinking about being a full-pledged vegan. Well, I’m still learning, but it doesn’t take much research to find how much protein you can get from beans, nuts, seeds and so on. We eat a lot of veggie curries, stir-fries and veggie-based sauces for our pasta. Cooking has, thankfully, never been an issue for me. I do get a blank mind now and then, but don’t we all? As far as my husband goes and his meat-eating ways, I find that I respect his philosophy and it’s a shared one: The animals is giving it’s life to preserve yours and it’s complete disrespect to turn away or just buy a slab of meat in the grocery store, not considering what it went through to keep you alive. He respects animals and finds needless suffering abhorrent. He essentially eats what I eat, but if he feels like eating meat, he makes it himself. It’s really not rocket science. Especially if you comprehend that one person eats way too much meat on a weekly basis. As far as being a vegan goes, I’ve chosen not to be vegan (for now), because I find myself not educated enough. It’s a simple truth.
“Animals are my friends… and I don’t eat my friends.”
George Bernard Shaw
As I already mentioned, this is my story. I always want to be kind. Kind to people, animals and the environment. I’m in no way, shape or form perfect in my conduct. You won’t hear me preaching to others about how they’re murderers and so on. I’m not one of those people. I would like to, however, help inspire a little compassion to those suffering just so we can get the cheapest piece of meat possible. It’s not going to change our lives directly and immediately, but we’ll help the world be a better place for all if we choose not to buy industrialised meat (or choose to not eat meat at all). It’s a topic I feel passionate about and it’s something I’d like to help change, but I won’t be doing so by putting other people down because of their life choices or make them feel bad. As Mahatma Gandhi said:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.“
If you’d like to learn more, here are a few helpful websites:
- Meatless protein: http://greatist.com/health/complete-vegetarian-proteins
- Why become a plant-based eater: http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/why-go-veg-learn-about-becoming-a-vegetarian/
- If you’re thinking of becoming a vegetarian: http://bemorewithless.com/25-tips-for-vegetarian-newbies-2/