“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”
~ Paul McCartney
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”
~ Paul McCartney
I was just struck by a realization. People age. Obvious, I know – but think about it. I know myself better than anybody else, and it feels only natural that I change. With someone else it’s a little different. My first … Continue reading
A month in London is a short time, but in a way I feel like I’ve been here all my life. At the same time it’s as if I just arrived. It is a wonderful city, vibrant and colourful – one can find practically everything, from tea at the Ritz to halal street food; from designer boutiques to street vendors; West End musicals to cheap comedy clubs; everything I would ever want.
While Sweden does have a fairly similar culture, the differences stand out. There are private schools that cost money – perfectly normal for most of the world, but to a Swede it seems really strange. News are very local – one day I discovered that first side stuff was that some grocery store had moved their sweets aisles. Crisps and chocolate are considered perfectly normal lunch items. There are lots of sales assistants – I practically stumble over the friendly lot whenever I step into a shop. Teachers are good but tough (good, as in really understanding the subject they’re teaching. Tough, as in telling the entire class what grades people got, and that they spell like five-year-olds and have scarily bad geography knowledge).
I’ve went to a Catholic school (which I thought would be incredibly difficult as an atheist, but turned out not to be a problem), that really is Catholic, which is a very new experience. They don’t learn about other religions! They have masses! They teach sex ed from catholic ethics! For the first time in my life I’ve been feeling quite patriotic. We get low PISA scores, but at least school is not about being brain washed into a particular religion.
But all that is insignificant. What I will remember is not the bad water taps, it’s the good people. The first thing that hit me when I stepped inside school was the friendly atmosphere, and that expression only grew stronger. I’ve made friends that are just unbelievably cool, smart, beautiful and kind. Leaving them – even with facebook profiles and phone numbers exchanged – feels like… like leaving a group of really awesome friends. As much as I look forward to seeing my friends back home again, a part of my soul is going to remain in Camden with them.
It’s been a boring day, a tough week and a sad month. All I needed was chocolate and an inspirational word – don’t we all have those moments? – and I would like to pass on some insights. Not from the chocolate, but from the inspirational words that made me feel a little less of a failure. So Charlotte, I hope you don’t mind me borrowing this. Because I need it.
“You know when a baby is born and they grow up in to small humans and they have accidents? They might scrape their knee or bump their head or have something chucked at them by an irate sibling. Have you ever thought about why they cry so hard? We get confused because as adults, we’re like “Dude, chill, it’s just a graze” and they’re freaking out at a pitch only bats can hear. They freak out like that because to them, it’s the worst pain they have ever felt. We’ve had a lifetime to break bones and break our hearts. They haven’t. For them, it could seem like the end of everything.”
What this made me realize, is that pain is relative. It’s impossible to live a life entirely free from pain, and it’s equally impossible to know how someone else’s pain feels, or has been felt. You are not one to decide how much a person suffers from their heart brake. You can’t decide how much it’s worth, that it’s “nothing” to you doesn’t mean it cannot hurt them.
And it works the other way around.
I’ve often felt bad, complaining about the wrongs done against me or the lacks in my life. I’m so awfully privileged, in so many ways. Feeling sorry for myself is a waste of tears.
The truth is, my life isn’t such a fucking privilege. Not compared to those around me, they too have clean water and a fully functioning body and parents and money and a home and freedom of speech (although the limits on that one can be pretty harsh, at times) and the right to a decent education and free healthcare and sanitation systems and whatnot. This is ordinary life to us. I know it’s not like that for most of the world, but we don’t see most of the world. I’m still a boring bookworm. I’m still ugly and unathletic. I still haven’t figured out what happened with a no-longer-a-friend. I’ve still hurt people without any intention to do so. I still have social skills comparable to those of a mud puddle. I still miss my guinea pig. I still have someone to make decisions for me, including decisions about my own free time and life. There’s still that boy…
And I realized that I’ve never felt more pain than those things (and others, worse, that don’t fulfill my requirements for being publishable). Ever. And I’m not going to apologize for that.
“Not to conform to any other colourIs the secret of being colorful”Henry Carlile
We learn from history that we do not learn from history
– Gerog Hegel
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.