Tag Archives: vegetarian

My first veggieversary!

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.


Yes, nature is cruel

As a vegetarian I often hear that eating meat is natural. After all, humans have eaten meat since forever. We are supposed to be at the top of the food chain. Did I know that domestic cats kill millions of birds every year? Do I realize that our bodies are adapted to an omnivore diet? That every single day, animals in the wild suffer far more painful deaths than they would in most slaughterhouses?

My comeback is this: Would you let your child die from malaria when you could give her medication? It’s perfectly natural you know, lot’s of people have died from malaria. No? Why not? Ooooh, I see, because you can prevent it. Unlike chicken factories, which are just part of the system. Tiny cages, preventative antibiotics (on a side note, many bacteria are growing resistant to antibiotics because of its overuse), crazy breeding schemes, lights on all day long… Just as in nature.

Yes, killing other animals and eating them is natural to many species. Why? Because the amount of plants are limited by:
a) how much nutrition there is in the soil,
b) how much space there are for them to grow, and
c) how many of them are eaten by animals.
The same can be applied for most living beings – the amount of food and the amount of predators are limits. Those predators are animals which have adapted to eating other animals. Their digestive are designed to extract the necessary nutrients from meat – basic biology. Does that mean it’s impossible to get same nutrients from other sources? No. Practically everything we need to function can be  found in plants, and for the few nutrients that can’t there are supplements.

Leading back to my main argument: we don’t have to eat meat. The only reason people (at least everyone I know) eat meat today is that they want to, because it’s convenient and tasty. Which is pretty sad, especially since we do so many things that aren’t convenient because our moral sense tells us it’s the right thing to do.

It’s argued where this sense of moral comes from. Some people say religion, which evidently isn’t true. Altruism, unlike religion, has been observed in many species. Also, religion has made people do innumerable mean things, so assuming that faith is necessary in order to understand ethics is just simply stupid.

According to Richard Dawkins, a sense of ethics probably emerged because it was useful to our ancestors to cooperate. Lot’s if things are far easier when done together, so it’s beneficial to both parts. As for kindness, people around you are likely to share your genetics, so helping them (even when it’s of no use to you personally) would make them (the genetics, that is) more prone to surviving.

In my opinion, basic morality (don’t kill, don’t harm, don’t suppress) would not be any less true even if they were unnatural. The suffering of the prey animal would be the same wether or not the predator felt bad for killing. However, if the predator – in this case humans – did feel bad about killing their prey, they would not do it if they had any other option. We do.

Inspired by: http://thinkingvegetarian.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/the-nature-argument/


My view on vegetarianism

I have always been fond of animals, and I never liked the idea of eating them. However, it took me quite a while to actually do something. I knew a vegetarian lifestyle can be hard, no gettin’ round that. You have to know your nutrients, and make sure to get them all. It will be tricky for people to invite you over for dinner. Your body will freak out a little during the first weeks. Bacon is delicious, and my mom always buys organic meat. It was just easier to suppress how I felt.

Animals have brains, that’s not rocket science. They are living creatures, not so different from us.  Animals think, they feel, and they have the ability to suffer.

There is a difference between animals and animals of course. Oysters probably don’t know much about the outside world. In fact, their nervous system is so simple it’s doubted they can even feel pain. Cows on the other hand are far more intelligent, but (at least in Sweden) they are usually treated pretty well. You can see them strolling around on big grassy fields, free to do pretty much what they like. They have plenty of food and space. They live in a protected environment, and even the slaughter is relatively gentle. I seriously think these cows have a much better life than they in the wild.

Then, there are the animals that do suffer – and suffer a lot. Pigs are actually quite clever; the same level as dogs, to the extent intelligence can be measured. No one would force dogs to live in dirty factories, cramped together with a hundred more. Still pigs are, and that’s not the worst example. I won’t go further into detail here but I think we have all get what I’m talking about.

Sadly, “happy cows” only make up for a small percentage of our meat consumption. The vast majority of food producing animals (is there a word for that?) are not treated as if they are alive. We all know this, and most of us think it’s wrong. We’re just too lazy to do something about it.

Reading Life of Pi was sort of a wake-up call for me. Making it far too short, it’s about a boy who’s stuck on a life boat. In order to survive he has to catch fish, but he doesn’t know much about hunting. Reading about those fishes, how they gasped for breath while Pi figured out how to end them, was very unpleasant. I didn’t just share their pain (both fish and boy), the way one normally would, when reading about something terrible. I was disgusted. Afterwards, I couldn’t eat gravad lax – one of my most beloved foods – without thinking about that fish. In fact, I couldn’t eat anything that had been alive without thinking about that fish. Pi obviously isn’t the average slaughterer, but he made me remember where meat comes from: animals.

I think I had already made up my mind by then, but I still did plenty of research before making it final. I read books and interviewed people, I searched the forgotten corners of internet forums. My biggest source of inspiration was probably Eating animals, a great book by Jonathan Safron Foer. This not only strengthened my decision, it also made it easier to explain.

Me and my best friend.

My best friend and I.

There are shades of gray, not just black or white. I don’t think torturing animals for the sake of our pleasure should be legal at any time or place. I say pleasure, because we could all live happily ever after without meat. If there would ever be a situation where I could either torture a chicken or stop a child from starving, I would save the child. Such situations rarely if ever occur though. An animal which DIDN’T suffer would be something else entirely. In fact, I think we should make use of it’s body after it’s had a happy life. I still wouldn’t want to eat it though. Even if I could trust that it had a good life, it would still have been alive. It would still have had thoughts and feelings, and because of that I wouldn’t be able to eat it without feeling bad.

I think I’ve always been a vegetarian at the back of my head, but telling people about it – changing my life because of it – is something else entirely. It’s hard. Still, I wish it hadn’t taken me so long.

30 (more or less) random facts

Well, this is me. I figured I should make some kind of introduction, so here you have it: 30 facts!
  1. I’m a lacto-ovo vegetarian.
  2. I don’t like nutella. Yes, I’m serious.
  3. I have a big, black poodle named Chip – after the dog my dad grew up with.
  4. My favorite colors are blue and green.
  5. My first language is Swedish.
  6. I was born on Easter Sunday.
  7. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would be dark chocolate.
  8. I consider Gerard Way to be one of the Great Mysteries of Life. He’s over thirty, has done drugs, smoked and partied hard – yet his voice is  just wonderful, and he has the looks of a twenty-something. How is that possible?
  9. I mostly listen to alternative rock, but nothing lifts my mood like The Beatles’ 1962-1966.
  10. I have really long toes.
  11. My house on Pottermore is Ravenclaw.
  12. My favorite actors include Logan Lerman, Douglas Booth and Maggie Smith.
  13. The perks of being a wallflower has to be one of the best books ever written. Clever observations are scattered all over the book, in both dialog and diary entries. Charlie (the protagonist) feels almost like a best friend I never met.
  14. Some day I want to write a novel, or a few.
  15. I have a guinea pig called Puff-Puff.
  16. I practise kyokushin karate.
  17. I was always a chubby kid, but now i’m struggling to gain weight
  18. French is one of my favorite subjects, or would be if it wasn’t for the grammar
  19. When I’m hungry, I get pissed off by the smallest things. It runs in the family.
  20. When I was little, I dreamt of having a big brother,
  21. The first time i listened to the lights behind your eyes I sat the kitchen floor and cried (with a half eaten apple in my mouth) until my sister came in and asked me what happened.
  22. I got my first phone when I was ten. By then, all of my friends had had one, usually far more advanced than my nokia, for two years. I couldn’t have been happier.
  23. I have a slight obsession with tea.
  24. I have read Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban eight times.
  25. I took piano lessons for seven years.
  26. I have a very strong instinct to jump aside when something comes flying towards me. It might be useful – except when playing sports.
  27. I love dancing
  28. In my garden, there is a small pond right underneath a plum tree. The plums are nice – until they ripen and fall into the pond.
  29. I’m a bit of a grammar police.
  30. I learnt everything about makeup from youtube.

Love, Elsa