Three years ago, I was wielding a spatula, slinging spices, and rocking a carving knife, making some delish meat-centric meals for my family. All this whilst brandishing a dry pinot or three in a tipsy waltz across the kitchen.
My favourite shows were Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen and Dinner Party Wars. I watched them almost exclusively, over and over, as I drained bottle after bottle of dry white. I seemed to have a penchant for anything creative all my life, writing, sewing, painting, and eventually that evolved to include cooking.
All the recipes revolved around meat, which I didn’t actually like much. All my life I have had issues with eating meat: the stringiness, the fat, the cartilage, the gelatinous textures, the smell of bones. So I rarely ate it myself, but I was a “feeder”: I cooked for everyone else. And I mean everyone!
Every kid on the block stopped by for breakfast, lunch or dinner. My kids would call their friends and say “she’s making spaghetti” and BING! someone would magically arrive at my door just in time, and naturally, I made them up a plate. My daughter’s friend would ask his mother what they were having, and then contemplate one second before stating “I’ll see what Carol’s making.”I didn’t mind one bit; I enjoyed it. But I rarely ate it. Turkey at Christmas; a hamburger at a bbq, pepperoni on a pizza, but steak? nope. Chicken on the bone? Nope. Chops? hell no.
Then I changed a few things in my life. I left an abusive ex; the box of pinot stopped gracing my counter, and I started thinking about my health. ME. My health. My life. Things I wanted. Not anyone else. Just me. What a revelation.
I didn’t want to eat flesh. I didn’t want to eat animals. I didn’t want any part in an industry that commodifies sentient beings and reduces them to “cuts of meat” in a supermarket. I had spent years doing it in order to please others, to follow the status quo. I did it because doing what I wanted was not an option, and in truth, I didn’t know what I wanted because all my time was spent catering to what others wanted. I had become a non-entity in my own life. I was no better off than the animals bred into the agriculture industry. I followed “the herd” because that’s all I knew and all I was allowed.
And then I deleted the negative and inserted ME into the equation.
Better late than never, eh?
And as most vegans say: I wish I had done it sooner!
Empathy for animals has to go beyond our pets: cats and dogs. It has to go beyond wild animals hunted or trapped for fur or other products. It has to go beyond animals threatened with extinction. These issues are understood around the world as being legitimate concerns which even non-vegans will support.
But it also has to include agricultural animals: horses, cows, pigs, goats, sheep. It has to because it’s plain logical. Why protect some animals and not others? What is the difference? Non-vegans will say “well they are bred for food.”These animals which were bred to fill a human concept: that it’s easier to go out into the field and kill a cow for food than hunt it. So agricultural animals were bred out of human LAZINESS and greed. Nature didn’t breed domestic animals, humans did. So they are not natural to this world, but now they are here, why do we think it’s ok to abuse them and not dogs (which we also bred)?
We are disgusted at the Chinese Yulin Dog Meat Festival but celebrate ribfests all summer long. We think it’s horrific that some Asian cultures eat live octopus, but really enjoy slugging back that raw (read ALIVE) oyster. And this year, we were horrified that due to a Chinese delicacy of bat soup, we ended up locked down in our homes hiding from a zoonotic novel coronavirus, but we conveniently ignore H1N1 outbreaks because “mmm bacon”.
Oh believe me, I ignored the facts too. I’m guilty of all of the above and then some. But when I made the change and stopped eating meat, I also started reading and researching, and I opened my mind to thoughts and ideas about which I previously had not heard. I went back to my nature spirit roots and had some serious conversations with my soul. I did a lot of housecleaning in my mind, opened up a few musty windows and gave that space a new coat of paint.
I like where I am now. I like me. I have goals. I have a purpose. I have drive. I’m connecting with a new tribe and I love how that feels. I’m tapping into my creativity, my spirituality, and my imagination and it’s looking up as never before. And it’s all because I stopped using other sentient beings for my own selfish needs. I recognized we are all animals: some human animals, some non-human animals, but animals just the same. We all deserve to be treated with respect; we all deserve love; we all deserve life.
Won’t you consider this concept too?