Thursday, July 11, 2013

Why I Decided To Become a Vegetarian

The last time I ate meat was on 10th, February, 2013. I remember the day, and I remember the way I felt when I ate it. I knew then it would be the last time.

Many people are curious to know why I made such a decision. After all, I was born and bred in the country, raised on a sheep farm.

When I first came to live here, I wasn't overly excited by the meat choices available. Tonga does have fantastic fresh seafood, but I've never been a seafood fan, so I was left with lamb flaps (uggh!), frozen chicken pieces imported from America (a dose of growth hormones and antibiotics with my chicken...? No thanks.), sausages, ham, bacon or corned beef (sodium nitrite – NO WAY).

So I simply ate less and less meat.

I’m sure there are all kinds of health reasons that would support my decision to become vegetarian, if I had a mind to research them. (I don’t)

But I didn’t do it for “health” reasons.

It was a spiritual decision.

I began to feel uncomfortable with the fact that a creature had to die, so that I could eat it's flesh - It just began to feel wrong.

I wondered how I would feel if a creature, bigger and more powerful than I, decided to kill me because he wanted to slice off my breast and grill it on his barbeque? Or my thighs? Or my prized rump?!

What a relief to be at the top of the food chain, huh?

We assume that because animals can’t “talk” (not in our language, anyway. Or is it we that cannot speak THEIR language?!), and do not act in the ways that so-called “civilised” society deems to be appropriate...they must be inferior, and therefore it must okay to kill them and eat them?

It’s not okay to kill a fellow human – I think we can universally agree on that – but why is it okay to kill a fellow creature? How do we know that those creatures don’t also feel love, hope, fear, loyalty, sadness...?

(Recently, I was cleaning the house. I pulled out a shelf of drawers, and saw two spiders on the wall, close together. I assumed they were mating, and left them in peace while I carried on cleaning. But then I noticed that one spider kept scurrying away, as though fleeing from my broom, but then coming back to the other spider.

It was then I realised that the other motion-less spider was dead. It was hanging there, probably by a thread of spider-web.

I continued to observe them. The living spider kept returning, again and again, to the dead spider. It occurred to me that maybe that living spider LOVED the dead spider? Maybe the living spider was somehow trying to protect the dead spider? Maybe it was his partner? His son? His friend? How can we possibly assume to know?)

Much of the meat sold today has come from animals that have endured lives of utter misery in horrid, cramped conditions and then slaughtered, cut into little bits, and packaged for the supermarket shelves. Is it just me...or does that seem kind

Quantum physics tells us that everything is energy. Our thoughts are energy. Our words are energy. Our food is energy. If I eat food that has been produced in horrible conditions, slaughtered in horrible conditions, am I taking in that low-vibrating energy and somehow expecting it to nourish and invigorate my body, my cells...? How does that work? 

I realise that not all meat is produced in this way. I grew up on a farm, where sheep and cattle were free to roam the paddock and graze. I saw my father treat his animals humanely, always making sure they had plenty of food, fresh water and shelter. During lambing season, he would often drive around the paddocks to make sure there were no ewes down, having birthing troubles. I saw him get out his gloves and deliver baby lambs that were breech, or had died and were stuck. Often it was too late for the babies, but at least the mother was saved.

At night, he would go out with a spotlight to check for any foxes that might be prowling around the lambs.

I cannot count the times we brought home baby lambs and calves that had been orphaned or abandoned, and we raised them by hand.

My dad’s animals were some of the luckier ones...

The sad fact remains: Much of the meat sold today, is no longer produced that way. Animals are simply a commodity, jammed into tiny spaces, shipped along a process line, churned out bigger and bigger but in a shorter amount of time...Where is our HEART?! I cannot, in good conscience, take part or support such a system. I refuse.

In Tonga, Sunday is the traditional day for (over)eating and sleeping and going to church. You might not be able to afford meat during the week, but if you can’t afford it for Sunday, then the situation is really shameful!!

Every Sunday morning, my Tongan family sits up one end of the long dining table, with a big machete knife, slamming it down on lamb ribs and chicken thighs - BAM, straight through the bones, it slams. If you are unlucky, you might get hit by the tiny splatters of fat or raw meat that fly out with every loud whack of the knife.

Meanwhile, I sit up the other end of the table – as far as possible from the flying bits of flesh – chopping up vegetables with my little kitchen knife, and thinking to myself: “I am SO glad I’m a vegetarian! That is DISGUSTING...”

The rest of my family still eat meat, including my children (though not as much as before. I do most of the cooking, after all!!), and I have no issue with them doing so. I trust that everyone does what they feel is right for them.

But as for me, I love being a vegetarian. It’s been the catalyst for becoming much more experimental and creative with my food. (Funnily enough, my meat-loving Tongan family often linger around the kitchen when I’m cooking, hoping to try out my latest dish. They are constantly amazed that food can taste so good...without meat!! Who would’ve thought?!)

Not only do I feel light...I feel right.

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