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Thursday, May 27, 2004

ChainBlogging: Carnivores and Herbivores

I used to be vegetarian. I was for 11 years, followed by a 10 month stint as a vegan. And yes, I was one of those probably annoying militant varieties...

I was around 12 years old and creating a magazine as an English project at school, and many of my articles were around animal rights issues. The more information I found on these issues, the more horrified I was - around fur coats, animal testing for medical, household and cosmetic purposes, and the more I realised that I couldn't eat these things with a clear conscience any more.

Of course, organisations who focused around these issues were more than happy to provide me with emotive and horrifying photos of distressed and dead animals to prove their point ;)

But yeah, I stuck with it. Myself and a few friends remained veggie, others phased in and out of it, but apart from a brief-ish 6 month or so period of eating meat again after about 7 years, I stuck fiercely to not eating "anything that used to have a face" and defending myself in doing such.

I think I was worse as an early teen vegetarian, in terms of lecturing the people around me about the dead animals on their dinner plates, though undoubtedly some of this continued.

When I went to uni I found myself in the rare situation where I was surrounded by more vegetarians and vegans than I was meat-eaters, so it was certainly a norm to eat no meat, and I stopped even realising that it wasn't a majority sport.

Moving to France where the sheer amounts of blood which pour out of every burger reminds you of the fact that it used to be a living thing reaffirmed my original reasons for becoming veggie, and I returned to it with even increased gusto.

2 or 3 years later I read about the existence of something called a rape rack used on dairy farms, and my attention was also drawn to the facts that humans are the only mammal which drinks another species' milk, and indeed that cows' milk is designed for baby cows, not adult humans. Not to mention the hormones and antibiotics that non-organic cows' milk must be full of.

I just couldn't eat dairy products any more.

I did ten months as a vegan, and contrary to many people's experiences, I didn't find it difficult. I occasionally missed cheese, but really it was a non-issue. It was easy. The only problem was that my depression at the time meant that I wasn't planning my eating well, or varying my food intake enough.

I truly, honestly believe that it is possible to live well on a healthy vegan diet, however I also believe that it takes a lot more planning, preparation and thought than most diets. At that period in my life I had no energy to plan, prepare or even think about my diet, and while I was quite happy living on marmite on toast, and I do believe that marmite is the only natural way a vegan can get vitamin B12 naturally.

However, after 10 or so months of this, my body decided otherwise. One day, I was walking past the sandwich shop and noticed their sign saying they had hot chicken and stuffing sandwiches...

Months, or even years, of protein deficiency took over, and I had to have chicken. There was no choice or decision involved in any of this - I needed chicken like you might need water in a desert, and for weeks it was all I ate. I couldn't stop!

That was, what, 3 years ago maybe, and I still eat meat. Yep, dead animals, things that used to have faces, I eat it. I like to think that my 11-12 years of abstaining from previously living things saved a certain number of animals, so the karma of this won't be too bad, but to be honest, nowadays I enjoy it.

I do believe that I will turn vegetarian again - maybe even vegan. I did consider becoming a meat-eating vegan for a while - still eating meat but still kinda horrified by the idea of milk - but it never happened.

For now, I eat meat, I like it, and if I am going to be veggie again it shouldn't have to be a battle. Life is hard enough without creating my own obstacles.

I managed vegetarianism for a long period of time because I wanted to do it. If I'm only half-hearted now it wouldn't work out, it would feel punishing, and I'd resent it.

Apparently it's National Vegetarian Week right now...




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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am definately horrified by the disgusting things that we do to animals just so that we can eat, but my answer to that is instead of abstaining completely (which I'm not convinced I could do, although I will try it some time) is to make sure that animal products bought come from the animals that have had a good life.

Clair
merialc.com

Dooey said...

Well.. I've thought about becoming a vegiterian a few times, but in the end there's a few things that stand in my way: 1.) I'm 18 and living at home so I eat what leftovers are in the fridge or what my mom puts in front of me. 2.) I just can't afford to buy the amount of food that would take to live. And then I start to come up with speeches to give my mom about buying food, like Clair said, that has had a good life buuuut they're dead and meat now so that would involve a slaughter somewhere in between. Ya know? I'm sure my dietary decisions will be much more effective when I'm out on my own after college.

Francesca Gray said...

My youngest daughter became a vegetarian at around the same age for more or less the same reasons. I did my best, but it was not easy catering for a seperate diet on a limited budget, especially as there were so few things she actually liked. She stuck to it for several months until a week before Christmas when the thought of a turkey dinner seduced her from her chosen course.