I’ve become a vegetarian.
I had my last carnivorous meal on the 12th of September. I’ve been reading a lot over the past few years about the impact on the planet of our western obsession with meat: most forest clearing is for cattle grazing land or for crops to feed cattle; the sheer inefficiency of feeding an animal 7-10 kilograms of grain and soy protein to produce 1 kilogram of meat, not to mention the thousands of litres of water that go into both; the cruelty that is unnecessary but commonplace, particularly with chicken and pigs; even the simple fact that we actually don’t need to eat meat.
The time comes when the weight of that knowledge pushes me to say to myself “So what am I going to do about this?” I can spend time taking in all this information, but if I don’t actually do something about it, I’ve just wasted my time. And inaction is not an option: inaction is too generous a word, because not changing means choosing to continue. It means continuing active financial support of the very industries that are destroying the planet, and leading too many people down the road to obesity, ill health and misery. I won’t participate in that any more.
The most interesting revelation on becoming a vegetarian is that it’s pretty easy. I’ve learned a lot about healthy eating over the past few years, which has meant that I haven’t been eating much meat. So it’s not really a big jump to substitute something that amounts to only 5% or less of my existing diet. I love cooking and trying new things, so this is now a new area of culinary exploration to enjoy.
Some people do tend to find it difficult to adjust, though. I guess it can be uncomfortable to process change at such a basic level in someone you know. I found a similar reaction when I’d lost a lot of weight, and mentioned that I still needed to lose a lot more. My appearance had changed enough to cause them to update their mental picture of me – the brain essentially stores our images of people in the form of caricatures – and suggesting that there was more change to come was quite unsettling for them.
I deleted television almost four years ago. Now I’ve deleted meat. What’s next? That’s what I worry about…
If you’re interested in what being a vegetarian is all about, there is a wealth of information on the web and veggie123 is a great place to start.