Saturday, October 21, 2006

On animals and why I don't partake

So my friends have been chatting a bit about the ills of non-organic eggs and dairy, and then I had to butt in my head about how badly the animals live, and I realized I had to clarify something. It is easy to overstate the suffering of farm animals, and it is easy to overstate the health benefits of a vegetarian/vegan diet. It is easy to twist and rationalize both of these claims and make them trivial. So I want to point out that the reasons I decided to stop eating animal foods have to do only with myself.

Since I had Fiona, I have been trying to accept myself fully and live the fullest life I can create for myself. For years I have struggled with parts of my personality that weren't acceptable: I have always been told that I am too sensitive and too emotional. I have always felt that I was too weak and too silly to really get along in the world. But I decided that attitude wasn't helping me, and was only crippling my abilities. I found that being a little extra sensitive was actually useful when I became a mother, and that gave me the extra confidence to start exploring my weenier side.

One thing that has always been difficult was my tenderness toward any kind of pain and suffering. Just thinking about an injured child makes me want to cry (and horror stories about child abuse have been known to keep me from sleeping for days). When it came to thinking about killing and injuring animals, I have always been upset, but I felt like if it was for food production, I was expressing illogical thoughts, weak, stupid thoughts. My father (and Fiona's father, too, now that I think about it) made it a particular point of harassment. He taught me to feel stupid and inferior for questioning the massive consumption of meat, and we ate it every night.

Finally, after years of being interested in a vegetarian diet without any serious action, and during a period of serious spiritual activity (meditating, reading, stuff like that), this May I decided that I couldn't keep pushing those feelings under the rug when it was so much easier to just stop eating meat. John was very supportive. I couldn't have broken out of that horrible mold without him.

Also during this extra spiritual period, I realized that I wanted my lifestyle to better match my values and my goals. I want to live a life based upon kindness, and I want to be a kind person. Is killing an animal just for human usage kind? Is it kind to reduce a life, human or animal, to only its economic value? No matter how I look at it, it doesn't look kind to me. It is particularly unkind to do so when there are so many easy vegetable protein sources for me to choose from.

Since I made this decision, I have not experienced the crippling bouts of emotional pain I used to deal with weekly (or more often). I haven't felt the deadening of depression that used to grip me so firmly. I don't feel worthless. I feel like me. I feel ... okay.

I also feel ten pounds skinnier. That's okay, too.


Kt said...

That's awesome, W. You rock! Diet is such a personal thing, no one should ever be able to tell you how to manage it. Fi's lucky to be growing up under such a good mother!

Autumn said...

i've been vegan for 12 years, vegetarian 16. as the years go by it just becomes who you are, you don't even think about it after awhile. but you know you're a more peaceful person because you made this choice. stick to your guns girl :)