One year ago on the day – a few days before Chip’s birthday – I made the decision to cut meat out of my life.I didn’t know then if I was going to last this long… I was reluctant to tell people at first because I was afraid I would break down and quit after a couple of weeks, when the first excitement had worn off. Now I feel as strong as ever in my decision, and haven’t for a minute regretted it. Below are some I’ve experienced and learnt during this year, though not by far all.
My stomach wasn’t happy, but that passed in a few days. However, a little later I realized (or, rather, people around me realized) my new diet didn’t quite fill the caloric requirements. Fuck.
I’m fortunate enough to have very few cravings. The first month or two I wanted salmon a couple of times, steak a couple and bacon once but that was it. Now I’m actually disgusted by meat. Not only the production – I’ve always been disgusted by that – but also the meat itself. I guess my taste buds have gotten used to the new food, because I’ve also learnt to love tofu, spinach and black beans. I can even eat bell peppers!
There is also a social aspect. I don’t want to get into detail with the world watching – basically some people (a majority) have been absolutely wonderful and some people absolute assholes. Nevertheless I love you all…
A more serious, less personal aspect is that I have come to a painful realization: It’s impossible to live without causing harm.
By not eating meat I no longer contribute to unnecessary killing of innocent animals. I guess I’ve saved some lives, by not eating them. I guess I make a statement that encourages others to do the same. I guess fewer chicken, cows, pigs and other animals live horrid lives and die painful deaths. I guess the environment is not being destroyed as rapidly. I know that my mind feels more at ease. And I know that’s not all there is to it.
My breakfast quinoa might have been grown on land that used to be a sanctuary for wildlife, and flown across the globe to my local supermarket. The blueberries in it might have been picked by Chinese workers for a fraction of minimum wages. The bowl I eat from might be painted with toxic color.
We need food. We need clothes. We need houses. There is certainly room to discuss how much and what kind we need of those things, but we need them.
Even if I only ate berries grown in my own backyard and used grass for clothes some insects would still be killed in the picking. There will still be baby birds who starve to death, but would have survived if they got to eat the berries instead of me. I would still fart out methane gas that destroy the ozonosphere. I would still cause harm in the form of emotional suffering if I died.
We will always cause harm to someone or something simply by existing. But we can limit the harm we cause. Limit it quite a bit. And we can inspire others to do the same thing. At least, that’s the hope I cling to.
I understand vegans now, simply because I know more, know that vegans cause less harm than vegetarians. Milk and eggs aren’t corpses, so no one had to die in the production, right? Actually, those two industries are built on killing. Cows don’t produce any milk unless they have a calf, and male calves are useless for milk production, so they become veal instead. The eggs you buy in a store aren’t fertilized, and taking them doesn’t hurt the hen. However, egg-chickens are different from meat-chickens. When a male hatches from an egg-chicken-egg (in a hen factory), he is simply killed, while the female go to egg production. There she lives – often under horrid conditions – until she is too old to produce as many eggs as she ought to, and goes to slaughter.
I know that it’s possible to produce milk without hurting the cows. I know that a lot of milk is in fact produced without hurting the cows. But it’s not enough.
Wool was even harder for me to understand. Until I watched the news yesterday. A few minutes – edited – about the Australian wool industry, where sheep are brutally beaten while getting their wool trimmed. Clip with a Swedish wool farmer who promised such things could NEVER happen here. Yeah, sure. Besides, Australian wool is a quarter of the world production.
I hope this didn’t scare anyone away from pursuing “the veggie path”, because that would be the complete opposite of my intentions with writing it.