- Isaac Bashevis Singer, author, Nobel Prize 1978
As I mentioned in my introduction post, I’m a vegetarian of 9 years. This is one of the, if not the, most important aspects of my life that I am entirely devoted to. I take it very seriously – I do not eat sweets with gelatine in them, non-approved vegetarian food (like McDonald’s ‘veggie’ burger), Orange Fanta, Twix bars, I don’t lick envelopes etc. I can 100% never see my self eating meat again, there is absolutely no desire to do so, and I haven’t once craved it for 9 years. It’s just a way of life for me now, like a religion or a sexuality. It seems natural to me to not eat meat and to respect animals, and completely unnatural to even consider doing so. I’m lucky to have been very supported in my decision – my mum is very understanding and open as it is, but she was a vegetarian for a while when she was younger, so she knew all about what I have to eat and the alternatives. Luckily, these days, the range is far better than when she was a veg*n! [veg*n is a shortened way of saying “vegetarian”]. My family soon got used to it (although my Grandma, bless her, does forget sometimes) and I’ve even now had an influence on my sister, who is practically a pescatarian but used to LOVE meat. For me, the decision to become a vegetarian was a mix of everything really. Firstly I’ve always adored animals, and I’ve always felt very sympathetic towards them – more than just a pet or just a pig on a farm or a chicken in a coop, I think I’ve always been aware that animals have brains that are almost as complex as ours. Secondly, I never really liked the taste of meat, and it always felt like a chore and very forced when I had to eat it. It didn’t feel right to eat meat. I also always hated the look and smell of it. Thirdly, as I became older, I became more aware of how animals are actually treated in slaughter houses and animal testing labs – this horrified me! I didn’t understand why anyone would want to be part of this, and why anyone would want to partake (second-hand) in the murder of a life for their own pleasure. A combination of all of those thoughts made me feel the need to do something about the suppression of animals. Now, don’t go thinking I’m some sort of preaching veggie hippie who’s judging you for eating meat! All of the guys I’ve dated ate (and loved) meat, no one in my family is a veg*n, and until I went to uni I didn’t actually know anyone who became a veg*n for non-religious/family influenced reasons. I was not influenced in any way, and I’ve never ever tried to influence anyone. If people ask me about the way animals are treated, and the reasons as to why I’m a veg*n, I will not hesitate to go all out and express how I feel, but other than that, I keep it to myself. See, as an atheist, one of the many reasons I dislike religion is because of the preaching and the pushing that a lot of religious people partake in to get others to join them. I hate that! So, I would never preach (unless asked or on a blog of course), because it goes against my own pet hates. Additionally, I’d never make my children in the future become veg*n – I’ve seen it on programmes like ‘Wife Swap’, and these kids just do not have any interest in it. What’s the point if you’re not devoted and passionate? If my future kids want to become veg*n then great, but I’d never bring them up that way, because every human being has the right to make their own decisions in life. If you eat meat next to me, it doesn’t bother me. I wouldn’t ever make a comment or feel uncomfortable. BUT, the one thing that really really winds me up is ignorance. This is something Josh and I have discussed (because he loves meat) when talking about whether he understands why I’m a vegetarian – I do not see the difference between a dog, a pig, a fish, a cat, a cow, a chicken… There is no difference. Josh said he’d eat any living thing because they’re all the same, and although of course I would never do the same, if I did eat meat, I’d feel the same, because they are all the same – they all have a heart, nerves, a brain, thought patterns, a memory, the ability to feel emotions etc. I HATE it when people cry over a run over fox or squirrel on the road, or squirm at seeing a hung, dead pig in a Butcher’s then go and eat meat – there is no difference. I respect people (who eat meat) who say they’d eat a fish eye or a pig’s arse, or a frog, or dog, because it is ALL THE SAME. Regardless of that, arse-hole is in your yummy McDonalds, KFC, Burger King meals anyway! And that is the main basis of my feelings towards animals and my veg*n beliefs – that all living beings are the same. Not only do I not see the difference between a fox and a bird and a fish and a kitten, I also do not see the difference between these animals and us humans. We’re all animals (and that’s a fact, don’t give me any of this Christian “DO NOT INSULT GOD’S CREATIONS, WE AREN’T ANIMALS” bullshit – it’s fact. We are mammals, and so are giraffes, lions, elephants etc.), and I believe ‘meat is murder’. If I killed a man on the street, I’d be a killer. If I killed a neighbour’s dog, I’d be a killer. What is the difference? Killing is barbaric, and if anything, it’s more barbaric to kill animals, considering it is just done for human selfishness and gluttony. Most human killers kill because they are so mentally unstable, but apparently it’s completely fine to murder a living, breathing animal with a heart and with emotions out of selfish choice. Plus, I bet people would be freaked out if they knew what exactly goes into their chickens etc. when alive – pumped with steroids and antibiotics, in a few years the next generations are going to be immune to so many medicines and vaccines because of the crap that animals are forcefed. If you want to know more about this, I suggest you read the fantastic book ‘Not On the Label: What Really Goes into the Food on Your Plate’ by Felicity Lawrence. I’m not going to post pictures of the pumped up chickens with broken legs and blistering bellies because it will upset me too much, but feel free to Google it and take a look at what you make living creatures go through just for your own pleasure.
The last few years I have gone to a local Hindu temple to celebrate Hare Krishna’s birthday (I’m very cultured and love Indian culture), and despite being an atheist, I’ve always loved going there because they share the same views as I do about animals. They believe in ‘Ahimsa’, which is the complete definition of what I believe in – “Ahimsa (Sanskrit: अहिंसा; IAST: ahiṃsā, Pāli: avihiṃsā) is a term meaning to do no harm (literally: the avoidance of violence – himsa). The word is derived from the Sanskrit root hims – to strike; himsa is injury or harm, a-himsa is the opposite of this, i.e. non harming or nonviolence. It is an important tenet of some Indian religions (Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism). Ahimsa means kindness and non-violence towards all living things including animals; it respects living beings as a unity, the belief that all living things are connected. Indian leaderMohandas Karamchand Gandhi strongly believed in this principle. Avoidance of verbal and physical violence is also a part of this principle, although ahimsa recognizes self-defense when necessary, as a sign of a strong spirit. It is closely connected with the notion that all kinds of violence entail negative karmic consequences.” (Note: the sanskrit under my ‘Chronicles’ title is Ahimsa!) Anyway, so the entirety of Ahimsa sums up my beliefs, because I don’t believe it’s right to harm ANY living being in any way.
Something that really gets to me is the ignorance and naivety of people when it comes to how animals think. Animals honestly do not get enough credit for how intelligent they are and how similar our brains are. Did you know, sheep can remember and recognise individual faces? (Read this article for more info). If watching a video of a monkey or a puppy being tortured in an animal testing lab isn’t enough to get you thinking, perhaps seeing a human have such barbaric experiments practised upon them will make you cringe – read the article and watch the video here of Jacqueline Traide’s very noble and admirable performance for Lush. If that makes you uncomfortable, I urge you to click this link and have a look at some of the videos and images, because I’m hoping that seeing an innocent puppy you could’ve once received for Christmas as a child, being tortured will make you feel just a LITTLE bit guilty.
Speaking of such, I also do not buy ANY products that test on animals. I try my hardest to avoid such produc
ts, and I’m pretty knowledgeable about which cosmetics and household products do animal testing. If you’re thinking “but isn’t animal testing necessary? What about medical advances?”, here’s your answer – no. Read this. Does a drug or a pill or a medicine tested on a 4lbs rabbit represent a fully grown 12 stone man? I don’t think so. There is no logic.
I could honestly go on and on about being a veg*n and fighting for animal rights all day! I’m proud of my efforts to raise awareness and get involved with campaigns about helping animal welfare across the globe. If this post hasn’t completely changed the way you see animals, I at least hope you’re a bit more educated about the way animals are made to suffer and the way they are treated by selfish humans.
Every life is equal, and humans do not have the right to determine the death of another being. You are not superior to other beings.