Furry Little Critters (The Story of Why I Chose to Become a Vegetarian)

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.

Abbie Cornish

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.”

Steve Irwin

 

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?”

Jeremy Bentham

 

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:

 

 

10 Things I’d Tell My Teen Self

I can still remember like it was happening yesterday: the angst, frustrations and unease. I can still smell my fear and cringe when I remember all the stupid things I did and thought and said. My skin never seemed to fit. As soon as I felt like I grew into being someone, the unease started all over again. And love! The love! The very-much-there love and the no-I-don’t-want-you love … Ouch!

I’ve spent quite some time with a number of teens and just seeing the same struggle in their eyes has made me want to be there for them in some way, shape or form. I understand. Most of us understand. Knowing what I know today makes me want to give comfort somehow and try help see that it does get better. Your skin will one day fit as snug as a bug in a rug and you will be more than okay. That’s why I decided to write down a list of ten things us “adults” see as truths and teens probably see as bull**** . Hopefully someone out there will find a little comfort.

1. You won’t feel like this forever. 

I know it’s hard to see that little glimmer of light on the other end of the tunnel, aptly named “Growing Up”. School sucks and your teachers seem to hate you just as much as you think you hate them, you feel like you’re alone and have no friends, plus your parents are being complete A-holes on so many levels. Yeah … It will pass. The tension will ease up and you’ll find that you’re a little bit less angry every day. Be patient with yourself and be patient with others. Breathe.

2.You don’t have to be like everyone else to fit in.

We all do this: change ourselves in order for people to like us. We hide our passions and don’t voice our dislikes, we make stupid choices, because we want to feel accepted. Well, you don’t need to do this. You are unique and as you probably already know, there never has been, there isn’t and there never will be anyone like you. No matter how much you try to change the way you look, the way you talk or how your mind works; you’ll always be different from everyone else and every single person in this world will fail at trying to capture your essence. Isn’t that beautiful? This is a fact that should be embraced, not shunned.

The media tries to instruct us on what’s beautiful and we all find ourselves trying to fit certain categories. It’s hard work being thin and athletic at the same time and eat healthy; hard being smart and dumb in order to make people think you’re extra cute and it’s hard to make everyone else happy. You’ll end up being miserable yourself. The entire world of media is fake. Why trust something that does nothing but lie to you on every step?

3. You are smarter than you think.

It’s so easy to be hard on yourself. We all seem to focus more on the negative than we do on the positive. I don’t really know why we do it, but it’s definitely not just a teen trend. But now’s the time to get rid of all you negativity about your brain and its capabilities. You really are smarter than you think. And sure, school is very important, but there is one thing I’d really like to instil in your heart: Grades in school DO NOT determine your intelligence. They sure as heck help determine your future and that’s why I think they’re important, but they cannot quantify your brain’s capabilities.

4. Not everyone will always like you.

Simple fact of life. And guess what? You won’t like everyone either. Just make sure you pay equal respect to those you like and dislike. There are so many of us on this planet and all of us with specific stories that helped build who we are. This means we’re all different, but still human and still very much entitled to being treated with respect.

No matter how much you try, you’ll always find at least one person disliking you. And for the time being, this matter of fact might hurt. You want everyone to know that you’re awesome. And you are. But why waste your shine on people who will be negative not matter how much you try?

5. Be yourself.

This is very much easier said than done, I know. I’m 29 years old and have days when I’m at a complete loss with myself. I’ve learned, though, that my complete loss of myself is a part of me, like everything else. It is obviously in my personality to have an emotional roller-coaster of a life. I can, of course, work on my flaws, but I can also accept that they’re there in the first place and choose my path from there. You’ll discover something new about yourself every day, especially if you take the time to listen. We are all unique works of art in forever progress. Some people might stand in front of us as if we were on exhibit, tilt their head in confusion, because they’ve no idea what we’re supposed to represent and it all looks like a great big pile of turds. Well, let them go on their merry way knowing full-well that there will be people who will stand to look for hours, never ceasing to find a new beautiful shape that makes them love you.

6. Respect and cherish your parents (and everyone else for that matter).

Your parents are probably the only people in your entire life who will love you unconditionally. Sure, you didn’t choose to be born, you didn’t choose your socio-economic status, you didn’t choose much of what is going on around you and has a direct or indirect effect on your life. You want to be someone and have a voice, yet feel helpless. But remember: your parents love you UNCONDITIONALLY. Can you even begin to comprehend how important that is? Don’t take them for granted. You never know when you might loose them, so don’t waste your time being horrible towards them (even if they embarrass the living daylights out of you).

Being respectful and kind to everything surrounding you is such a magical way of being. It’s your way of actually and directly impacting the entire planet. You never know how one act of your kindness that cost you nothing improves a stranger’s day and because of that that stranger will feel like they can pay the kindness forward. Even a smile can brighten up someone’s life and help them go on. Respect cultures, religions, opinions, thoughts and view-points.

7. Explore your sexuality on your own terms.

You want to love and feel loved. We all do, it’s not just a teen predisposition. A part of that is exploring your sexuality. Love is one of the most wonderful things life has to offer and physical love is definitely a big part of it. But relationships are not just sex. They’re friendship, partnership, companionship and so so much more. Don’t let anyone pressure you into something you really don’t want to do, but think that the other person won’t love you any more if you say no. If that’s the case, they really don’t deserve you. Really and truly.

The person worthy of your body should love you and you should love them back. A part of that is being patient when one is ready to take the next step and the other isn’t. You’ll know when it’s right. And you have the right to say “no”, be heard and loved not in spite, but because you chose to stay true to yourself.

8. Education is important.

They teach us all the wrong things in school. Very true. My opinion on school is pretty much summed up by this very eloquent piece of art:

I don’t, on the other hand, agree with the very last words: “Don’t stay in school.” I’d say that more than not staying in school, we should focus on letting our teens find their own future and find what feels right for them. This includes making mistakes and learning actively from them. If you let it, school will give you the discipline you need to help you accomplish becoming the person who you want to be. Every relationship gives you opportunities to learn. Even with flawed systems like school. So stay in school and make sure the decisions you make are the ones that most honor your life, the person you are and the person you want to become.

Just because something isn’t working for you or your generation, does not mean you have to give up and walk away. Why not recognize the challenges your school system is faced with and do something about it? Be active in helping shape your education system and see what happens …

9. Don’t throw away your inner child.

Do you remember how uninhibited you were as a small child? How nothing really mattered if it didn’t include you exploring, playing and having fun? How you could just laugh and giggle just because you could? Do you remember how that felt? Has it started to go away and the world seems to suck the last remembrance of fun out of you? Well, don’t let it! Smile, giggle and laugh! Look up every now and again and try to spot something beautiful. It will keep you happy and grounded.

10. You can do anything you set your mind to.

When hearing about success stories, we only hear the good parts. Sure, there might be some struggles mentioned, but it’s all usually clean-cut. So when we start a project of our own, we give up so quickly, because we seem to think our time is up and we’ll never get it right. If we failed once, we’ll always fail. Then we let this failure (that is really inconsequential when you really think about it, by the way) spill over to all aspects of our lives and we become failures ourselves.

There really is no need to put yourself down. There are so many people doing just that in your name. Why join them? So many of us have dreamt and let our dreams go just because people have told us to “get real” when we voiced our dreams our loud. Try to find supporters, not haters for your dreams. And when you do, listen to constructive criticism, not criticism out of spite or jealousy.

 

Although this is a little something I wrote for my teens out there, it’s safe to say we can all live with these ten “rules”. No matter how old you are, you can find a little sometin’ in my words to try and live by. I know I can :).

 

 

Love (=) You

Be Love. Love Yourself.

Easy enough, right? Well, I know for  a fact I’m not alone in my struggles with body image, fitting in, feeling like a failure,  getting knocked down and then not being able to find air … This knowledge of not being alone has been my saviour in the past. It’s doesn’t have that much to do with the fact that I’d enjoy other peoples’ hardships, but more with the fact that I know there are people who have survived much worse and became better people on the other side of their mountain of pain. It gives me hope.

I’ve done some research in the past year: reading and listening to people’s stories and trying to find ways to make myself stronger and not react as strongly to things going haywire in my life- essentially learning from their happenings. I have honestly become tired of myself and the way I let myself be knocked down by every little thing. It’s annoying. We usually have so much passions and loves in our lives: our family, friends, pets, even our possessions find that special place in our lives. We spend time building those relationships, rejoice when we find fulfilment in them and are devastated when they fall apart. BUT: how much time do we spend actively loving ourselves? How much time do you spend building a relationship with yourself, do you rejoice when you find fulfilment within yourself or do you only dwell on each and every mistake you find?

You are just a person. One, seemingly meaningless  little puzzle piece. Sure, but you’re the only person who will be with you until the very second you die. You can hope to have people hold your hand for that final breath, but none of them will be on that journey with you. For the rest of your life, you have you. And then you have everything and everyone else. So why not like the heart you were given? Why not love the vessel you walk around in? Why not cherish the beautiful mind residing in you? Or at the very least try to? Think about it. How much easier would your life be with a positive frame of mind?

I like to organize things. It makes me happy and I find it gives me security. I think this might be the reason I organised loving oneself into three categories: Body, Mind, Heart.

Loving my Body …

Sounds steamy, right? Okay, it can and … well … come to think about it, should be a part of loving oneself. I’m not sure, though, if a healthy sex life means a healthy body or a healthy mind? I’ll say both and leave it there :).

Let’s do a little experiment now, shall we?

Take a piece of paper and a pen. In thirty seconds write down everything that comes to mind that you don’t like about your body. Done? Great. Now, do the same, but write down all the things you do like. Now count and compare. Why do I get the feeling you had absolutely no problems with the negative, but struggled through the positive? I did as well.

The only words of encouragement I could find for myself (for now) is to fake it ’till I make it. I will make myself change my perspective. Instead of fat thighs I’ll choose to see healthy legs that are able to run. Instead of freckles I used to hate, I’ll make myself see little decorations all over my face. It’s so much easier if you don’t judge every little thing. I have already made some small steps and aren’t as afraid of liking certain parts of my body. You should do the same. I do guarantee that a changed perspective also changes the way you take care of your body. You will want to eat right and move, because you’ll know you’re worth it. And for God’s sake, don’t fat shame yourself! It seems to be everyone else’s pastime. Don’t let it be yours.

Loving my Mind …

I know I’m not good at drawing, I’m not naturally very patient with myself, I’m really not a mathematician, I do not understand chemistry or physics … the list goes on (as I’m sure it does for you). I have chosen not to let that get in my way. I accept that I’m only now starting to understand basic physics and that I’ll probably never be able to draw a squirrel. I accept my shortcomings, but still want to work on my interests- never minding the fact if Mother Nature gave me the talent for it or not. Don’t let your list of fails define you. It’s really quite simple to understand that they don’t. Think about all that’s happened in your life. Think of the ups and downs. Try your very hardest and just attempt to see the negative as a lesson. Recognise your achievements, but try not to dwell on them either. It’s hard work. But you can do it.

Loving my Heart …

Our hearts get broken so many times. We get small cuts or big gashes, but both seem to leave bruises. We want to protect ourselves from anyone or anything that could cause more damage and we close ourselves off. I’ve done the same. Small acts of unkindness (from loved ones and random people alike) have made me protect myself and am now afraid to show that I truly care and who I really am. All of this leaves me a little socially awkward and probably gives off a really weird first impression.

On the other hand, I see the person I want to be. I know what I want to give the world. So how do I come from what I give to the world to actually giving what I feel is my mission to give? For me, I guess, I’ll still have to work on accepting myself: my quick brain and big mouth, my weird sense of humour, extreme sensitivity and a lack of socialization :). It’s okay. I’m okay the way I am already. My heart is in the right place and people who really know me, know that to be true. These are the people who accept my occasional tongue slip, humour and my heart. I do have to work on letting my heart shine through and not guard myself as much.

One way for me to do that is prepare myself mentally for social occasions. Every time I know I’ll be in one place for a while, I remind myself to be kind, patient and to really listen: forget about myself for a while and how I want to impress these people by having a quick and funny response. It’s not that I wouldn’t be interested in other people and their stories, but I get so nervous that it’s really hard to concentrate.

 

All in all, never forget to be kind to your heart and be patient with every aspect that is you. Things won’t always happen just because you’d like to will them to, but with patience they will happen. Sometimes you give it your all, but you seem to fall flat on your face and fall into a big brown hole of sticky mud. You’re not alone. We all have a ton of it all over our faces.

 

Choose to love yourself. It’s as easy (and as hard) as that …

 

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