“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us the ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings, as something separate from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
“People often say that humans have always eaten animals as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.”
Isaac Bashevis Singer
“Hold then the same view of the dog which has lost his master, which has sought him in all the thoroughfares with cries of sorrow, which comes into the house troubled and restless, goes downstairs, goes upstairs; goes from room to room, finds at last in his study the master he loves, and betokens his gladness by soft whimpers, frisks, and caresses.
There are barbarians who seize this dog, who so greatly surpasses man in fidelity and friendship, and nail him down to a table and dissect him alive, to show you the Mesaraic veins! You discover in him all the same organs of feeling as in yourself. Answer me, Mechanist, has Nature arranged all the springs of feeling in this animal to the end that he might not feel? Has he nerves that he may be incapable of suffering? Do not suppose that impertinent contradiction in Nature.”
Voltaire, Dictionnaire philosophique portatif (1764), “Beasts”
I’m almost bipolar when it comes to eating meat! I’m a seasonal vegetarian. I’ve always had a tortured relationship with meat. On one side I feel sick knowing that I am eating the dead flesh of some creature that once had a life. A creature that I would probably want to pet and hold if I could manage to stand next to it in the field. But when I eat meat, I feel nourished almost primal. I might even say I get this surge of power when I eat meat. The meat I eat is usually free range and now even biodynamic (pasture raised animals). With regards to anything that was not reared naturally – I find the thought of eating mutant meat disgusting, and do not feel any sense of nourishment from that process.
When I was a child, I noticed the goats around me, how they interacted; they had no malice, they stood there together foraging for food in their environment, they had their own form of communication, they had little fights with each other, cuddle together for warmth, even show affection to each other. They also looked very cute. A lot of the stories from the books I read revolved around animals that could talk. I knew I couldn’t talk to animals, but I had this overwhelming urge to use the universal method of communicating (body language), hold the smaller ones, stroke the larger ones. Goat meat is eaten quite often in Botswana. My mother seemed to have developed a liking for it and I remembered it being cooked a lot. I started refusing to eat goat’s meat. My mother is from a culture where the killing of animals is part of the process to get meat…it is not unheard of to still see the live pig before you arrive at their parties, then see it dead on a spit a few hours later. She was not happy with my qualms about eating goat. One time, she thought it would be more cost-effective to buy a live goat, hire men to kill it, chop it up and freeze the meat. I was so very upset when I found this out. My mother was not happy with me being horrified about this and decided to force my crying self to watch this whole process. I was distraught and sobbing. I mourned the animal. I couldn’t stand all the pain inflicted on it, the awful smell that suddenly explodes into the air. The look in that animals innocent eyes full of terror but still alive, then pain… then slowly becoming vacant.
A similar thing happened with Ronald and Donald – the 2 ducks that were brought home to be fattened up and used for food. I made friends with these Ducks. My mother now aware of how traumatic the killing of animals was to me, secretly killed them. I later found out about this when it was served at the dinner table. I cried for days. My friends were killed for food!
You might think it’s crazy how my mother would have made me watch the goat being slaughtered, but I can understand why she did that. It’s more like how they make someone who has never fought in a war witness many shootings on-screen, or shoot fake people, so that they don’t think twice when they do it in an actual war situation. It desensitises you. It puts into your subconscious how to behave and that everything is still fine. See below article written on Killers (But killers of people). This may seem totally off track but it’s a good read to see how your sub-conscience can be trained based on your interactions with your environment.
When I tell people I want to be vegetarian, a lot respond saying they would never do that and have always wanted to eat meat. If I keep on pressing them for details if this was really true (even when they were a child) – most people respond that there was some period in their life were they were put off eating meat. It’s usually after watching some documentary or going to an abattoir. After visually witnessing how that meat gets into their plate, they were put off. They usually add that they don’t think about that now because they buy their meat packaged from a supermarket.
It is a big deal to kill animals. Ask most people who hunt about the first time they shot an animal. How did they feel when they were about to shoot? Most people trembled. The full impact of taking another life weighs down on them.
There is definitely some change to the conscience that needs to occur before eating meat comes naturally. But is this change in our conscience something that needs to happen in order for us to survive? Of course we know we are not going to instantly die if we stop eating meat, but when I say survive – I mean to actually live. You can feed a dog a diet not designed for it, and yes it will be a moving creature for a while, but after a while, it’s hair starts falling out, it loses interests in everything around it and doesn’t look it’s glossy self anymore. It’s not actually LIVING.
When I think of being vegetarian – two vastly different images pop to mind. One is something similar to the human version of the above dog, the other is me thriving on living food, me eating a diet of sprouted greens, fruits, veggies and raw milk and feeling at one with all the animals in the world. In one image, I feel alive and at peace with myself, the other I’m dying, not living…merely existing. As a hypochondriac, that second image does make a big impact.
There are many accounts of people going vegetarian/vegan, then becoming anaemic, having thyroid problems, becoming B12 deficient etc, so they decide they can no longer be vegetarian. They need to eat meat! Now, I’m not a fan of veganism, even Ghandi (link below) in his loving attempts to be vegan said he kept feeling ill and so had to keep reintroducing goats milk and ghee back into his diet. Maybe in the future we will understand nutrition well enough to totally remove all animal products and be more at one with nature, but for me; now is not that time. For now, though I am causing some form of cruelty to animals to use their milk – if I get it from a farm that looks after their animals, I feel my survival justifies that necessary cruelty.
The big question is can vegetarians that don’t subsist on junk vegetarian food still thrive? Yes, there are many known vegetarians that thrive. There are many athletes and Olympic medalists that use this diet to improve their performance – the greatest iron man competitor is vegetarian.
So other people can thrive on vegetarian diets. How about me? What if I’m different to them? I might have a different blood type. My genetics might be predisposed to eating meat. My body might not be able to extract nutrients from plants as effectively. I don’t really trust studies about other people, we are all different. Maybe all these people making me feel guilty about eating meat and one too many talking animals in my childhood stories have messed up my head. Maybe I should listen to that primal craving for meat. I’m not one of those people who mess around with my steak or ribs when it does eventually end up on my plate. I can devour 400g steak no problem! I salivate when that smell of roast starts wafting through the air. I don’t digest fruit or uncooked veggies very well. My milk needs to be raw, my veggies need to be cooked, I can only consume very small amounts of fruit, gluten is the devil and my grains and legumes need to be sprouted (except white rice). I can also only eat eggs from pasture reared chickens which are hard to come by (By choice).
It’s not so simple for me to answer whether I need to kill animals in order to *live… for now my emotional self feels guilty for eating meat. I’m murdering animals and my conscience by eating meat. I can only take the plunge and be a healthy vegetarian for a long period of time. This way I will be able to justify if killing animals as a necessary means of survival for me, or it may be true that I don’t need to kill animals to still thrive.
#DigiWriMo , #Day8