Thursday, March 3, 2011

Vegetarianism

As I waited for my Ethiopian stew to cook I flipped through a health magazine I got free at my neighbourhood health food store. In it there was an article about organic beef with a picture of a big old cow. I'm not a fan of cows, I don't think they're cute or cuddly like rabbits or lambs or other furry animals that people eat, but they have eyes, an a nervous system. They feel. They breath. They hurt.

And those are probably one of the first reasons I became a vegetarian 22 years ago. Over the years I've remained a non-meat-eater for all the reasons under the sun: if it was an argument for vegetarianism, I probably ascribed to it at one point or another. Twenty-two years is a long time. I've never done anything else that long (except drive). In that time I've learned how to cook and became a pretty good cook if I (and my ex) do say so. I've learned to cook Ethiopian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mexican (a little thanks to my brown-skinned sister-in-law: that was she identifies as), Indian and many other types of food. I've become so accustomed to eating a certain way ("ethnic") that the last 5 or so years (at least) I've no no reasons to be vegetarian except out of habit. So coming across this article on beef surely made me revisit one of my earliest reasons: cruelty to animals. I guess since it's been absent from my life for more than half of my life it seems ridiculous to eat another living breathing creature. We are after all part of the same family: we are all animals on a certain level. Only our brain is bigger and we have possible thumbs.

I'm not writing this as a conversion piece. I respect every one's needs to eat what they want just as I've appreciated respect over the years to choose my own path (of course except from my blood family, so I stopped going to their dinners when all they had for me was potatoes in the meat and potato dinner. I tried cooking "ethnic" for them but they wouldn't have it). I write because sometimes I feel like I'm part of the wrong era or culture - like I should be in part of the world/religion that does not eat animals and could not even fathom doing such a thing. Animals are our friends, our companions, our workmates, etc, but not our meals. I look at my cats often and think about how they are eaten in different parts of the world and how it may seem strange to us here in North America but then we'll turn around and have ground up cow-fat. My cats give me so much more than one meal - or even a week's worth of meals. They give me a (short) lifetime of loyalty and company. To exchange that for a few days of nourishment is ludicrous. This tells me that meat-eating is not sustainable. There needs to be a massive amount of violence and bloodshed to eat for a day (or a week depending on the size of the animal). It does not replenish itself like plants do. I just don't get it - I don't understand a society or societies that can misinform the masses about misconceptions about protein and "lack of protein" just to support the business of murder. Perhaps if Betsy was your friend you would think twice. As for me, I know that I love my little furry companions and they give me more than just a few meals. They give me loyalty, humour and laughter, compassion, love (I know animals don't feel love, but I feel it), and of course priceless company.