I remember the day clearly, the 8 year old me woke up with the intent of not eating meat, ever again. I was strong in my decision and made it clear with my family whom supported it taking into account my sister (at the time) who was a vegetarian. Fast forward 10 hours later and my dad brought home Nando’s for dinner, at which point my lack of conviction took over and I caved, to the Peri Peri goodness that lay in front of me. Needless to say, after that, I have never tried to be a vegetarian again…
Now most of you who know me, will know that I am (what I believe to be ) an animal lover of sorts…see the conflict of interest there? Let me elaborate…
Self proclaimed animal lover … no!
Before anyone can label me as a hypocrite in this regard, I myself have claimed the title. It all comes down to my dilemma of loving ALL animals and yet selfishly consuming some of them. I have entertained the idea of becoming a vegetarian, many a time in fact but despite my love for them, It some how has never been enough for me to actually give it up. Does that make me a bad person? Does that make me selfish?
I believe that to many who read this, that yes, I am all of the above, but bare with me whilst I try to explain my tricky situation, not rationalize it.
Food for sustainability
Before my love for animals (at a young age), came my love for food (at an even younger age) … I learnt that I needed food for sustainability and energy, I needed the right amount of nutrients from various sources, I learnt that food (both vegetables and meat) were food sources for decades and I learnt to love it. At no point was I taught that eating meat was wrong, and at no point up to this very day do I believe it is wrong. It is a personal choice, it is a personal decision, it is personal. No doubt, moral lines start to blur, when cruelty and inhumane manufacturing comes into play but let’s take it back a bit…back to a time of necessity and nature.
It comes down to an understanding for why humans and animals co-exist on a planet at all. It occurred to me that if we were not meant to eat meat, wouldn’t that meat be harmful or poisonous to us? Wouldn’t our creators (whomever and whatever it may be) have ensured that we don’t eat it? Granted things have gotten out of hand over the years with the meat manufacturing process, but if it were as organic as it were back in the days of our ancestors, would we still feel guilty for doing what is natural to us?
Let me make this explicitly clear: I am not denouncing vegetarianism or veganism. If it’s working for you, super. But it doesn’t work for everyone, and that’s who this post is for. If you’re wondering how to juggle a deep love for animals with the prospect of eating them, maybe my perspective can help you. Maybe my opinions will push you to be vegetarian, and that’s okay too. That’s what this post is: my opinion and perspective.
So what then?
We need to change animal product production. Because people will never stop eating meat, what we need to focus on is making critical, overwhelming changes to the way we produce meat. The animal cruelty, overcrowding, environmental degradation, and flagrant use of antibiotics, inappropriate livestock feed, and hormones – it all needs to stop. Like, yesterday. The only way, in my opinion, that this can happen is if we stop supporting industrial meat production and start putting our money towards sustainable, humane livestock operations.
Understandably to animal lovers whom abstain from the consumption of meat, me being a self proclaimed animal lover is an insult of note, and as a result I would refrain from ever referring to myself as one. But understand that in some way (hypocritical or not) I have found peace with myself and my dilemma…and that amidst what seems to be an age revelation, I am okay with who I am, what I am and what I believe in. I am happy with my choice to love animals yet still consume them (be it beef, pork, lamb or chicken) and that it in no way makes me a bad person. My activism falls hard onto pet and wildlife animal cruelty, not because I believe they are superior to livestock, but mainly because of the hypocrisy that would exist with me eating it.
For those of you who face the same dilemma I do, just know that consuming meat isn’t a direct reflection of your moral stature, it does not make you any less of a caring person. Just remember the key rule…don’t preach that which you cannot practice 😉