Sunday, April 15, 2012

Food choices, Ghandi and why I can't kill things

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – Gandhi”
In February I made an ethical choice about the food I eat. I became a vegetarian.
I’d been thinking about it for around six months. Every time I chowed down on a piece of animal my mouth went mmmm but my stomach churned. My brain did flips trying to reconcile my opinions on ethical treatment of animals and my love of eating them. Yes, I love the taste of animals. I love the myriad options for designing meals around animals.
The signs have been there since I was a kid. I can’t kill things (except for the most dangerous spiders – and cockroaches, but that’s another story). I rescue spiders, moths, and silverfish and pop them outside. I don’t kill snails. If I had a suitable house, I’d have a menagerie of rescued animals. We regularly pop down to the RSPCA to visit and give some love to the cats up for adoption (and I fight the urge to bring back 5 or 6 of them).
I’ve always had trouble eating food that looks like it was once alive. I hate touching raw dead animal flesh. As a family we’d moved to eating free range and/or organic dead animal flesh whenever possible.
In February I finally asked myself – if I love animals so much, why do I eat them?
And if I can't kill things, why am I OK for other people to kill things on my behalf?
Right now I’m an aspiring vegetarian, because I don’t always win the battle between mmmm and the churning stomach. At this point I’m around 95% vegetarian. I make no excuses; it’s a work in progress.
You know, it’s hard to be a vegetarian when you LOVE the taste of dead animal flesh.
When I’m tempted to fang an animal, I think about where it came from. What that animal went through, from being raised, to transport, to slaughter, to my plate. That usually inspires me to reach for a mushroom or two instead.
Do you know what your food has suffered? Most people have no idea, and I don’t blame them, because it doesn’t bear thinking about. All that yucky stuff is done by someone else. Animals reared in tiny areas, forced to eat grain laced with chemicals, shoved into cramped trucks and then dragged up to slaughter. These animals can hear, see and smell their fellow animals being killed. They go to their deaths terrified, bred, raised and tortured for their value as “livestock”. See? We don’t even talk about our food as if it was ever an animal. “Meat” itself is a euphemism. Meat is dead animal flesh. Why not call it that? Because it makes us feel more comfortable, to separate our food from the animal that once use that piece of “meat” to walk, run, breath, live.
I’m not going to link here to the countless harrowing videos proving how our animals are treated leading up to them becoming our food. Do that yourself, if you care to. On the animal rights activist spectrum, I’m on the moderate side. People need to come to their own decisions about their food choices. Which brings me to the reaction I get when I tell people I am an aspiring vegetarian.
Laughter. Why? Oh have you thought about your health? What about your iron levels? What about vegetables, don’t they feel pain too?
Why do people feel the need to critique my choice? If I’d said I don’t eat Brussels sprouts nobody would question or challenge me. I don’t judge you for eating dead animal flesh – stop judging me for not eating dead animal flesh. It’s my business, thanks, not yours. I only tell people about it when it’s necessary; at barbecues for example. Well I guess the cruelty-free cat is out of the bag now, eh?!
That said if you’re interested in educating yourself and others about food choices, there are lots of groups out there with information and opportunities to take action. If we can encourage people to make ethical choices about their food, and pressure governments to back these choices, it’s a step in the right direction.
Today, (Sunday 15 April) in Sydney, Ban Live Export is hosting a rally at 1pm on the steps of the Sydney Town Hall. This horrific live export “trade” involves animals being transported alive in obscenely cramped conditions to be slaughtered overseas in equally dubious conditions. Many, many die on the way, after intolerable suffering. I urge you to help us end Australia’s involvement in this barbaric practice:
I wish I could attend. Instead, I bought a t-shirt and am wearing it today:

Coming up this week is the Victorian Farmers’ Federation Annual Conference and AGM in Bendigo. So on 19 and 20 April a group of concerned animal lovers are protesting cruelty to animals including the meat, dairy and egg farming industries.
Premier Ted Baillieu will be there. I’m so disappointed that I can’t be there, to see Ted.
To walk up, shake his hand and then tell him exactly what I think of his government.
I wish I could be there to add my voice to the chorus to stop animal cruelty.
Details of the protest are:
Thursday, April 19, 11am - 1.30pm and Friday, April 20, 10am - 12pm at the All Seasons Motor Inn, 171 McIvor Highway, Bendigo.
If you can go, please yell a rude word at Ted Baillieu for me. I’ll leave the word choice to you (I know I can trust you to pick a doozy or two).
In the meantime, I continue to count each day I don’t eat dead animal flesh as a win for both myself and animals.
Have you thought about your food choices lately?


  1. Try telling people you eat a vegan diet. They look at you like you have four heads :-) My path to veganish-ism (I do eat prawns, mussels, scallops and oyster and my chicken's eggs) has been largely that same as yours. I can honestly say that the smell of meat is now grotesque to me. It does get easier, I promise. You'll be so much healthier for it too. Good on you for making the decisions. It's so much easier to be a zombie and live your life behind a blindfold

  2. I figure it's just as upsetting as religion. I tell people that I am agnostic and they tell me things like "you will burn in a lake of fire for eternity". Really? Anyway, I digress.

    People nip at you for having the courage to do something that they themselves are either too chickenshit to try or are uneducated about. They want you to join their unhealthy eating habits because it validates them. Ignore them. Eat what you're comfortable with. If you want occasional meat, don't feel guiulty, just call yourself a flexatarian. It will make it easier for you to be a veggie because it's less restrictive for you overall and you'll find yourself choosing the veggie dishes anyway.

    I say good for you Michaela. We have the same unhealthy and cruel things happening in the US with animals that are bred for slaughter by the big factory farms. if enough people opt out of eating that kind of food maybe they'll torture less animals.

  3. Voted for your blog too! If anyone else wants to vote, Chaela has a button on the uppper right side.

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