As of November 2012 my Partner and I slowly transitioned into a vegetarian diet, now we are getting closer to a vegan diet. But before I go into more detail, let me tell you our story of what I like to call “enlightenment”.
For as long as I can remember I have always loved and adored animals. As a child I remember connecting more with my Aunt and Uncle’s dog than some of my own friends. Something always drew me to them. During my teen years I fell in love with horses and began riding lessons. Never once during my childhood or teenage life did I think about or question the food that was prepared and put before me by my Mother. I naturally assumed that if my Mother was serving it to me and my whole family was eating it then it was normal, healthy and not hurting anyone. I never thought that the very thing I loved on my plate was the same as all the sentient beings I loved and interacted with.
It wasn’t until I moved away from home and began university that I really began to think critically. I actually began to ask questions without being fearful – even if it meant unpleasant answers. I began taking note of people who were vegetarian; I’ll admit I often felt the need to defend my right as an omnivore. For some reason whenever someone told me they were vegetarian something inside me stirred, and it wasn’t a pleasant feeling.
When I thought about it I figured “yeah. I don’t think factory farming is glamorous by any means but surely the government has enough regulations in place to ensure the animals are treated well.” Boy… was I wrong. My education all started one fateful night watching Netflix, I watched the documentary “Food Inc.” it wasn’t a gore fest, it simply gave a general depiction of where our food comes from. But that was all I needed. I didn’t make it half way through without crying. I felt convicted. I wanted to know more, so I read some books… and some more… and articles… and research articles… scientific articles… more documentaries… more articles. I went into a vegetarian lifestyle kicking and screaming. I tried my hardest to find even a shred of evidence that could support my omnivore lifestyle. I came up dry.
I went to my partner and told him how I was feeling. He supported me and told me to try it. So I did, I stopped eating meat cold turkey (no pun intended)… this lasted a whopping week. It failed miserably. I felt awful about myself, when I would eat meat I felt as if I was taking part in something that was inherently wrong.
I asked my partner to do some of his own research like I did. He watched one half of a documentary and being the animal lover that he was, he was sold. A vegetarian diet was our future. So I (we) started together. But we didn’t cut it all out on day one. First beef, then pork and finally chicken. For the first few months we still ate wild game caught by my Father, but over time it began to “gross us out” so we cut that out. We have now also cut out most fish, we do not drink animal milk and we are proud to say we have cut out most cheese and other dairy products! We also use egg substitutes when baking.
Since taking on this lifestyle my love and respect for animals has grown tremendously. I am always reading and learning more about them. All animals have social capabilities, they have families, and they love living. A pig can love you just as much as your dog. A chicken loves to lie in the sun and soak in its rays. A mother cow instantly has deep bonds with her calf. Orca whales have different cultures across the world’s oceans. I can keep going. But it’s better if you do your own research! I can honestly say I know the feeling of being an omnivore and feeling personally attacked because of a vegetarian… well here is a secret, nobody is attacking you, like me it is probably your own conviction. Yes, there was a time when as human beings we required meat to evolve and survive, but that time has long passed. For those of us living in a developed world, we no longer need meat to survive, not when so many plant based foods and other products are readily available.
Anyways, that is my “enlightenment” story. Please comment and tell me your own story!
“… animals have at least some moral status . That is, how we treat them matters morally—and not merely because of indirect eﬀects on human beings. Animals’ interests have some independent moral importance. Stated metaphorically, animals are not mere resources for our use, playthings for our amusement, or even practicing grounds for good behavior towards other humans. They count for something in their own right.” – David DeGrazia