To be perfectly candid, I have never seen the point of vegetarianism; as far as I could tell, the health benefits are sketchy at best, vegetarian food is cardboard-like in texture and has no taste and how can you be considered a ‘foodie’ if you are vegetarian? And for people like me who are not particularly fond of vegetables, your food choices are dramatically reduced if you are a vegetarian.
My sister in law, Debbie, has been a long time crusader of vegetarianism and veganism. Her reasons are many and she speaks out publicly against all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty. I admire her passion for the cause and her unwavering belief and commitment in her advocacy. And so over the years, through Deb, I have been made aware of the inhumane and cruelty animals suffered before landing in the supermarket, and while I sympathised I never considered becoming a vegetarian. Stubbornly perhaps, I could not see how becoming a vegetarian could change anything except subject me to a life of carb laden, boring, and tasteless food.
But life, or the universe or whoever is running the show, will find a way to get important messages across and make you listen and take action, wether you like it or not. . A couple of weeks ago, my youngest son and I were enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon watching TV; as usual nothing seemed to be on that was worth watching and desperate for something to watch I ventured in to the channel listings with the triple digits. (We normally don’t go past Channels 1 to 20, where all the BBCs, ITVs and Sky channels are found). On channel 183, a documentary had just started called Food Inc and we tuned in. For 2 hours, we felt like we were watching a train wreck; the documentary was profound, shocking, intense, wicked and appalling. As the credits rolled, and as we both sat in shock, I commented to my son ‘, what a truly sick society we live in. Deb is so right when even by eatng an egg we are contributing to this demonic treatment ?'.
Later that afternoon, I headed off to the supermarket to get some food for our dinner . At the meat aisle, I picked up a packet of chicken breasts and the image of thousands of chickens, cooped up in a windowless shed, lying in excrement, unable to stand or walk came to mind and would not go away. And as I moved on to the beef section the images kept coming: Minced meat packets became huge grinding machines grounding up every single piece of animal carcass from intestines, bones and G-d knows what else: steaks in packs of 4 were replaced by big sad cow eyes, forced to eat an unnatural diet of hormone injected corn, restrained in small spaces, oversized udders; in the vegetable aisle , the tomatoes, strawberries and lettuces became thousands of helpless and illegal workers, working for a pittance in inhumane conditions; And these images keep repeating over and over, even though I have tried going to different supermarkets and even gone to a butcher to buy meat; yet the same thing happens: flashing images of suffering, pain and cruelty.
It is like having post-traumatic stress episodes.
While my son still eats meat (sort of) he now reads the labels religiously to see where the meat is coming from and demands that we only buy farm assured meat products. As for me, since that Sunday, I have been unable to eat meat in any shape or form.
To Debbie and the many like her, who have no agenda expect to see that all of God's creatures are treated with dignity and repect, keep talking and making us aware of the evil we inadvertantly inflict on these animals. We will get it in the end, one way or another.
I don’t think this qualifies me to be called a vegetarian, but perhaps it is my consciousness rebelling against condoning something that brings so much suffering to so many innocents.