Monday, 10 March 2014

Becoming a Vegetarian

On the 21st of February I consumed my last Satay Chicken Chow Mein from my local Chinese takeaway.  I was pretty sad about it, it was a really really good one!  The chicken was so juicy which somehow made it worse, if it had been dry and chewy I wouldn't miss it so much!  But I had made the decision to become a vegetarian and it was a decision that needed to be made and I would like to explain how and why I came to this decision.

Here are the hows:
  • My sister has been a veggie for about two years and she has been a great example to me, she has shown me that it is perfectly possible to live as a vegetarian and she is so positive about it, saying how she never misses meat and eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • One of my Facebook friends  is a vegan and often puts up pretty horrific images of animals being killed etc.  Two particular things she put up were triggers for me; THIS essay by Gary Yourofsky and THIS video of pigs being abused (this is a really horrific video, you have been warned).
  • For Boris' birthday we visited the Sea Life Centre in London, and while I have some concerns over the keeping of animals in captivity, I was really impressed by their conservation message.  There were loads of signs around saying which fish were in decline and what to eat instead.  It made me realise that eating fish is really damaging for the ocean and there is no easy way to ensure the fish you are eating aren't becoming extinct. 
And as for the why:

  • My health - or more specifically cancer.  I am pretty scared of it, people I know keep getting it.  I don't want to get it so I am going to do everything I can to avoid it.  Statistically vegetarians are less likely to get cancer and a number of other health ailments including heart disease and strokes. This all sounds pretty good to me.
  • The Planet - There are so many reasons why eating meat is harmful for the planet, here are just a few examples: Rainforests are destroyed to make land to graze cattle for meat resulting in around 1000 species per year becoming extinct, the burning of forests contributes to 20% of all green-house gases, it takes 2500 gallons of water to produce 1lb of meat. The raising of animals for meat produces millions of tons of toxic waste which is quite often released into waterways. As a self professed environmentalist, I couldn't in good conscience continue to eat meat knowing the damage it causes.
  • People - Eating meat is harmful to other human beings on this planet, people are starving to death (approximately 60 million each year) because their countries sell grain to feed animals for meat. If everyone ate a vegetarian diet there would be no reason for anyone to go hungry. As a Christian the thought of people dying because I like the taste of meat is abhorrent to me and becoming a vegetarian is a first step towards causing less harm to my fellow human beings.
  • Animal welfare - Unless I can absolutely guarantee without any doubt that the animal I am about to eat hasn't suffered I am not going to eat it.  I don't want to cause pain and suffering to animals, any more than I do people, if I ate meat I am causing suffering by proxy because of creating demand. 
So there you have it, a very brief account of my journey to vegetarianism.  And do you know what, I feel much better, I feel like a great burden has been lifted.  I feel like a more honest person now, I feel like a more empowered person I am not lying to myself any more that the way I eat meat is ok because it's free range or organic, or I don't eat it very often, I can have a more un-hypocritical love for all animals and I am no longer in denial about their treatment.

So why am I sharing this with you?  Well even though I have only been a vegetarian for a very short time, I already feel a burden of responsibility to share the facts about the meat industry that I have learnt so that people can make an informed choice about whether they want to eat meat of not.  It isn't about beliefs, opinions or judgement it is about facts and information, and if people can hear these facts then I have at least given them the opportunity to re-evaluate their position, even if they choose not to change it. And how can I be judgemental of anyone eating meat when I ate it for the last 30 odd years?

And finally, here are some awesome memes about how great being a vegetarian is:


newyorkvegan:And people say that veganism doesn’t affect anything.  Go vegan!

According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off U.S. roads.

beans versus beef

Make The Connection
Hmmm :)

If you are thinking about becoming a vegetarian but not convinced it is for you, watch THIS video and see what you think then.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Helen, I'm a bit late to this but I have been meaning to comment since I read it. A really interesting, well-researched read, thanks for sharing. I've often given this consideration for various reasons, but I always decide to stick with meat. I suppose it comes down to the 'pick your battles' thing (that also very much applies to parenting toddlers!) and I find that I can never fully support every cause I would like to. So for health reasons, I choose to try and follow a 'natural food' diet as far as possible - cook from scratch, buy organic, avoid processed foods etc. I keep meat a part of that simply because humans have eaten meat since they first came into being and I don't believe that it's really the enemy, so long as it is good quality (this is a great article that sums up my attitude to food - http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/mar/23/everything-you-know-about-unhealthy-foods-is-wrong?CMP=fb_gu)

    I get our meat in a delivery that is from hand-picked, high-welfare UK farms, is free-range/grassfed and mostly organic. I feel this way of eating meat avoids some the issues (poor countries selling grain for animal feed, cutting down rainforests etc.). Obviously there are still the animal welfare issues to consider and a few other factors, but it all comes down to what I feel I can do and what I feel I can't! Keep up your great blog!

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  2. Hi Laura, thanks so much for commenting, I know exactly what you mean about doing what you feel you can do, and that is how I felt, like if I couldn't stop world hunger or wars then what was the point of stopping animals suffering, I should start with trying to help people first, but then I realised stopping eating animals was something I COULD do, quite easily which would immediately have an impact on the world and would be making a strong stand for something I believe in. It's great that you only buy free range, organic meat etc, but unfortunately as you say this doesn't mean they can avoid the horrors of the abattoir. I didn't stop eating meat because I believe eating animals is wrong (per say) but because I couldn't stand the thought of causing suffering to animals. Have you watched the films? They are pretty powerful and convinced me I didn't want a hand in the suffering. Thanks for sharing the link from the Guardian. I generally agree with what it says, and I can't quite believe the nonsense the government is churning out through it's Healthy Start campaign. No way will my children be eating low fat cheese and spreads and sugar free drinks just filled with junk. (Also Healthy Start is sponsored by Nestle). x

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