In my last article I discussed my continuing learning curve related to shopping ‘cruelty free’ and I will report on my progress in subsequent articles.
In this article I want to share with you my decision to become vegetarian.
Many people who follow a traditional UK diet react in a typical way when they realize that I am a vegetarian. If you are already a vegetarian or vegan then you will be well aware that a loaded question is never far away!
They might as well ask you why you joined the ‘Oobee Joobee Secret Religious Sect’. (Legal Disclaimer: If such a sect exists, this article does not refer to you.)
The person who is asking the question has formed an instant stereotype in their head which they struggle to compute, because in my case, I look like a nightclub bouncer.
“Well you do not look like one of ‘them.’ You know, those hippy types, or a teacher who always wears sandals with folded up socks”
They then proceed to ask me why am I vegetarian.
The answer I give is short and simple, “Because of animal cruelty”
There then follows what is commonly known as a ‘tumbleweed moment’ followed by an “oh!”. The conversation then proceeded on the lines of, “How’s the car running? Are you still having trouble with the gearbox”
Occidentally the more opinionated people will provide a multitude of reasons why I am wrong. I quite like this challenge but they soon make their excuses when I offer to show them the truth.
I personally prefer the quiet, lead by example approach because I want to have a pleasant time, not get embroiled in a heated conversation.
However, a tiny seed has been sown in the questioner’s mind. Mwa-ha-ha-ha!
Here’s the interesting part. Vegetarianism is slowly being accepted as less eccentric. Vegetarianism has seen a renewed interest in 2013 thanks to the European horsemeat scandal. More and more people are becoming meat reducers thanks to initiatives like ‘Meat Free Monday’ and that allows them to get a taster (no pun intended) about Vegetarianism.
Couple that with the added exposure that businesses similar to Quorn and Linda McCartney Foods get on the Television and media and that tiny seed gets a little bigger each time.
Incidentally, I have on occasions, been cautioned to not say. “I’m a Vegetarian because of animal cruelty”. They suggest I DO say, “It is for health benefits”. Although there is an abundance of research that does indeed support this assertion, it would not be true in my case though. In fact, I would still be a vegetarian even if vegetarian food tasted awful. I could never go back to eating meat knowing what I know now.
In actual fact I do not even know if I’m a vegetarian. I suspect I’m not because I currently eat fish and eggs, (which I’m trying to find alternatives).
So what am I? Does it really matter?
I am on the ‘Road to Cruelty Free’ at my own pace – That is what I am!
My goal is to take away the stereotypical labels and make the ‘Road to Cruelty Free’ more of an accepted and desirable / cool life-style journey.
Hopefully I can inspire more people to set off on their own ‘Cruelty Free lifestyle journey.
I will now expand upon my answer, “Because of animal cruelty”
I have been an animal lover all my life.
I also ate meat and a traditional UK diet up until 2013.
I reconciled my diet choices because I assumed that animals were well cared for and slaughtered instantly and humanely and I honestly did not want to upset myself by doing any further research. I have a deep psychological problem with animal cruelty, it affects me badly for days. It is so wrong to be cruel to a living, breathing sentient creature.
Something clicked inside me in the New Year of 2013 and I resolved to actually help animals instead of taking a back seat and leaving it to the charities I support. I can not over-emphasize what a traumatic experience this has been. So much so, that I ever concluded that eating meat is inconsistent with my deep values. I still wanted to eat meat because it tasted really good and is readily available so I initially researched humane slaughter (which I now know does NOT exist). This led me on a journey of unimaginable horror which is easily researched on the internet.
I can almost guarantee that you will not believe goes on in the farming and animal-derived food production industry. I also found cultural differences particularly (Halal & Kosher slaughter) very difficult to comprehend.
Your first emotion will be heart-pounding shock, followed by utter revulsion and then denial. If you were to read my early tweets on Twitter you will see the emotional rage that I was going through and the colorful language that almost had me parked. In fact I was going to go back and delete these tweets but decided against it because my cathartic journey is a reflection of my journey and a journey you may take if I inspire you to start on the road to cruelty free.
When you have had chance to think about the horror you will begin to ask the question ‘Why?’
By asking that simple question you will be taken on a journey that has the potential to rock the status quo and ‘establishment’ to the core. Yes even Government ministers.
That journey may well not apply to you but as an animal activist, it has taken me to a world of Parliamentary Lobbying and an ‘Old Boys Network’ that is fiercely protected. The blockbuster Hollywood thrillers you see are not that far removed from fact!
Incidentally, the quick answer is ‘Money!’
I hope that answers your question and gets you thinking.
I will keep you updated on my progress soon.