Saturday, 31 January 2009

Someone posted this on a 'clean eating' thread on a fitness message board I check daily. The poster was talking about so-called 'semi' vegetarians:

People want others to think better of them so they try to put on fronts, like I am humane so I won't eat meat. I am one that believes we should own our choices. I'm a meat eater. I try not to eat it at every meal for both health and budget reasons but I do enjoy it.

I agree with her sentiment that people who call themselves vegetarian yet still continue to eat animal foods are putting on a front. I can't imagine how you can try to have it both ways.

I posted the following as my reply. Hubby liked it so much he suggested I add it to my blog as well, so here it is:

I don't know if I am humane. Probably not. But I know that with my situation as it is now--food being plentiful and the luxury of choice available to me--for some reason that I can't explain, my compassion extended to animals, and now when I look at a piece of meat, I don't see just a cut of something to cook for dinner. I can't help but see it as a body part of a once-living thing. I can no longer look at a cute little piglet and say 'Aww', and then go to the kitchen and fry some bacon. And yet a few years ago, you could not have convinced me that I would ever think twice about eating animal products. I could not have cared less that a cow was kept in confinement and felt fear--truly, I said many times that if it came to a choice between them and cheap meat, well, there was no question--cheap meat and plenty of it, please! I will never know why this aversion to flesh clicked in me at the ripe old age of 37, but it did. I don't know why suddenly looking at bacon made me think of a living, breathing, feeling entity. I don't know why I suddenly looked at animals, looked into their eyes and saw awareness, consciousness, a life that I could value and respect. But I did.

Around the time this feeling was awakening in me (and I have to add, this didn't really happen to me until I'd been a strict vegetarian for over two years!), we visited Shropshire, and near a small pond, there were some ducks. There was this one female duck lying down on an embankment that was chest-high to me as I walked along the pavement by it. This meant that she and I were at eye level to each other. She was very calm and tame, and I was able to stop in front of her and just look. I was no more than a foot from her. She eyed me with one side of her head, as birds do, but she did not get up and walk away, and did not seem terribly ill at ease, just wary. A male duck, presumably her mate, hovered in the background about 6 feet away from us. He stared at me and I felt sure he was watching for one false move on my part. I'm sure he would have taken action if I'd been at all threatening, but I just stood and stared at this duck and talked to her very quietly. Ducks have an unreal look, don't they? They look like dolls or toys, in a way. This sounds ridiculous, but as I looked at her, I noticed that her sides were moving in and out with her breath. And a feeling flooded over me, a feeling of realisation: This creature is alive. She is alive and she is aware, and she values her life, and she feels security, she feels comfort, she feels pain, she feels fear. I stopped talking to her in playful, condescending tones. It suddenly seemed strangely disrespectful. I was so taken aback that I stepped backward, and turned to my husband and told him what I thinking, and he just smiled gently and said yes.

For me, it's not a front.

I know, I know--and freely admit--of course if I were desperate, if I were starving, I would eat meat. Any of us would do anything needed to stay alive. But you know what? So would they. And while I have a choice, I choose not to torture and kill animals to keep myself alive. I want no part of that.


Anonymous said...

this is beautiful, thanks for posting it

Anna Down Under said...

Lovely, Carla, very well said.