- I’ve been vegetarian going on 7 years and adopted a plant-based diet about a year ago. If you are vegetarian or vegan you’ll recognize the following responses when a person finds out that you DON’T EAT MEAT!!???
- I could never be vegetarian! I like bacon, steak, xyz animal product, too much. Insert raised eyebrows here.
- Where do you get your protein? Insert palm to head slap here.
- What do you eat, salad? Insert eye-roll here.
Lately, however, the question has been a little different. A little more inspect. It seems to come from a place of genuine curiosity, not ignorance.
Maybe the question is changing because the stigma around vegan and vegetarianism is changing. People are becoming more aware of the disgusting animal abuse and torture inflicted on animals for our food, clothing, and beauty purposes. Furthermore, health and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet are more widely recognized than before.
Maybe people are simply curious about a my “diet” akin to curiosity about KETO, intermittent fasting, or any other fad diet. Beyoncé committee to a vegan diet to get her body ready for tour. I’m not a fan of vegan being promoted as fad diet, however, any exposure to the cause, especially from Queen Bey, is appreciated.
Regardless, the question about my choice NOT to eat meat is way more open ended than ever before. More and more often I’m being ask, Why? It’s not a judgmental or averse why. It’s an, “I’m interested and want to know more,” kind of why.
Unfortunately, this question is usually posed at the dinner table after several people have placed their orders and mine comes with the request to omit the animal protein. It’s a logical time to be asked the question, and the easy answer is, “Yes, I choose to be vegetarian for the animals, and for my health.”
Often, they want to know a little more about the animals. This is where the dialogue gets tricky. I want to use this opportunity to educate about the ways animals are abused and tortured, but can I really say what I need to say before their steak arrives? Can I talk about how meat-hens live amongst 20,000 other chickens in a dark, crammed warehouses with the floor covered in their own waste? Or how egg-laying hens are kept in small wire cages and repeatedly forced into egg-production. How about the fact that your omelet is made from a hen’s menstrual cycle? If that’s not enough to give up eggs, I don’t know what is.
Same goes for for dairy. People cringe and gag at the thought of tasting a women’s breast milk, but have no problem when the breast is that of a cow’s utter. Dairy cows are kept indoors and artificially inseminated to keep them producing milk. They are chained in stalls, dehorned, branded and physically abused by their farmers. Beef cattle, while typically raised outside in pastures, are branded, castrated and eventually shipped off to to feedlots to “beef them up”. They are forced to stand with hundreds of other cows indoors standing in their own feces.
I can’t, and won’t get into veal right now, but just imagine a toddler being pulled away from his desperate mother and left alone. The baby cannot run and play, or explore and grow freely with his friends. It is alone and scared just waiting to be killed for someone’s super. That’s veal.
Piglets are also snatched from their mothers at only a few weeks old. They are housed in windowless, dark sheds. They have no access to the outdoors, and in most cases no natural light. Like other animal mentioned previously, pigs are kept in crowded, disease ridden environments. Female pigs are kept in confined cages where they artificially inseminated so they continue to give birth to more and more pigs for the sole purpose of food.
But, I don’t say any of that. At least not yet, or especially at the dinner table. I proclaim I choose not to eat animals because I love animals, and I believe farm animals love, formulate relationships, and feel pain just as pets do. Just as we do. Eventually, I will become braver, instead of afraid to be judged, criticized or disliked. In the meantime, I will use this platform to educate and work on launching a luxury shoe brand where no animals are killed for our material purposes.
I know this was a more somber post than most, but sometime the truth is somber. Thanks for reading. Please subscribe to hear more Creating Amare.
References: ASPCA. https://www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/farm-animal-welfare/animals-factory-farms
More resources if you are interested.