Lack of connection.
A total lack of connection is the reason that more people don’t make the change to a meat and fish free diet – we, as humans, just don’t make the link between our food and what it once was. We don’t think about where it came from, what it did, what it thought and felt. As a species, we are oblivious to a lot of the awful things that goes on around us because we are relatively ignorant, put bluntly. We aren’t innately evil and we don’t totally lack compassion, but along the way we have managed to successfully blur out the gruesome facts that make up, when boiled down to it, a very barbaric system of food creation and supply.
Things went wrong (in my opinion) when we started detaching what is served to us on a plate from what it was before it reached a factory: when we began to see our McDonald’s cheeseburger as that and that alone and not the sentient being that it was a few months previous, when it was able to perceive and feel emotion, including happiness, terror and grief.
Then there is the other issue that plagues us humans – we hate our belief systems being challenged. We like our comfort zones, especially when they include a nice greasy bacon sandwich on a Sunday morning, and a preachy 21-year-old coming along and talking about loving cows is quite a pain in the arse, really.
A year and a half ago I decided to make the change to a meat and fish free diet after watching a few documentaries (cliché, but true) that entirely changed the way I looked at factory farming and commercial fishing and the murder of animals for human use in general. I kick myself now for not making the change sooner (again – cliché, but true).
Disclaimer – I used to love meat and fish. As in, in my first year of university, I would go to McDonald’s three times a week, religiously. Either a Filet O’Fish (contentious choice I know), chicken nuggets or a McChicken Sandwich with cheese (and the cheese burger I’d get free with my student card on the side, obviously). I remember at the beginning of the process of making the change, thinking to myself, ‘God, I really wish I could un-watch that programme’, as I tucked into a cheese burger, seeing scenes of screaming cows imprinted on my eyelids every time I blinked, but from then on out I couldn’t. It’s like flipping a switch, I think. Once it’s switched, you question why you would ever want to plunge yourself back into darkness again.
I’m not expecting anyone to go vegetarian after reading this, but I at least hope it gets some of you thinking, researching, and questioning why it is that we are okay with allowing such a damaging process of food supply to continue daily: to question why we pet our dogs with one hand, and use the other to cram another burger into our mouths. On a humanistic and compassionate level, it makes no sense.
To put it bluntly, factory farming, commercial fishing, and the eating of the resulting products, are killing our world. Literally, killing it. Our planet is dying: our rainforests are being dilapidated to make room for cattle farms, the way we interfere with our oceans and poison our waterways is endangering species and killing ecosystems, and the air we breathe is being poisoned by the greenhouse gases and waste that livestock production creates. If our forests, our oceans, and the beings that walk, swim and live within them could talk, they would be begging us to stop. They would be crying out for us to put an end to it.
For my children, and their grandchildren, and their grandchildren, and the planet that they will one day inhabit, I am vegetarian. For the animals that I recognise as needing our compassion in a world which sees them as nothing but a food source, I am vegetarian. I hope you could be too, one day, even if in this moment you think I’m nothing more than a preachy kale lover.
Happy World Vegetarian Day! Love always, Kirstie x