I grew up as a meat eater. My dad was always very kin on making me a ‘cultured’ eater, on having me try everything and having no fear of food. And, what a wonderful skill he gave me. I tried it all, from lobsters and escargots, to veil and pork. When I turned 19, I became a vegetarian. Now here, I am not going to tell you why you should become a vegetarian and how I’ll hate you if you don’t, I just want to tell you the reason why I chose to become one.
I had been in Spain for the summer, enjoying the pleasure of tapas and jamon serrano, but my body was telling me that something was wrong. I felt heavy and my stomach hurt. Then, I started to realize how much meat I had actually been eating during my time abroad and how much meat in general people eat on a regular basis. I started reading, doing research about the meat industry and the way eating meat can affect the body.
When humans were still in caves, meat was a real luxury. Something that was eaten twice a week if you were lucky. People had to hunt the animals themselves. Nowadays, obtaining food is as easy as going to the supermarket and there is a huge disconnect between people and what they eat. Ask a five-year-old today where food comes from and I am almost positive the answer will be “from the supermarket.” Because having meat on our plates is so easy, you can easily forget (or choose to forget) where it comes from.
When I began to get informed about meat eating, I truly realized the suffering that animals are put through. Farm factories are dark, horrible places where animals don’t live happily ever after. News: the milk you are drinking does not come from a happy cow in a green field. Meat is an industry and meat means money. So, animals are treated just as a means to an end and their suffering is not accounted for. Need I add the amount of antibiotics and hormones put into the animals for them to stay fat.
Food is energy. It is the fuel that moves your body and keeps you alive. Now, if you are eating a burger that came from a cow who had a horrible and stressful death and was filled to the brink with hormones, what type of energy do you think you are putting into your body?
I have always loved animals. I hate to think about the idea of an animal suffering because of me. But, I also know that most animal suffering has developed from the huge disconnect between humanity and nature. Come on, humanity has managed to damage the planet the most out of any animal on it! But still, humans choose to believe we are well above all animals and that animals don’t deserve our respect.
Then, I only became a vegetarian and not a vegan. I still understand how over the years humans have become dependent on animals. I was raised as a meat eater and I am a huge foodie. So, I see it as a process, as micro-revolutions, as small changes in my life that can lead to big changes. First, I stopped eating red meat, then chicken, then fish and soon enough I hope to get to the point where I don’t use any animal products at all. Until then, however, I like to think that my choice to not eat meat everyday has a strong impact on the environment.
If you did not know, the meat industry actually produces 14.5% of the world’s greenhouse emissions. This huge industry is one of the top contributors of climate change, with more than 25% of agricultural land in the globe being used to raise cattle. Can you imagine, how much of that land could feed humans and animals alike, if instead of being used to raise millions of animals and then kill them, it was used to grow grains and plants?
It is simply not sustainable for humans to keep eating meat at the rate it is happening. The meat industry keeps growing, while the environment becomes more damaged. And, I as a consumer, choose to not keep supporting an industry that damages the environment and is also the cause of animal suffering.
It’s been almost three years since I stopped eating meat, and it’s been great. There are vegetarian options almost anywhere you go in the world, and it’s not hard to leave meat when there are so many other wonderful foods that provide just as much protein (avocado, quinoa, soy, kale, almonds, just to name a few.) You just have to get informed and read up a little bit on healthy options to replace the meat on your plate. Every time I eat, and there is no meat on my plate, I have accomplished a micro-revolution that I am so proud of. Yes, people keep eating meat and still animals are killed. But this is why I am telling you why I chose to become a vegetarian and why I am going to tell you that you should think about how you can help the world (and an animal) every day, one bite at a time.