As I sat there supporting a petition to stop the approaching dog meat festival in China, whilst simultaneously chomping my way through a plate of juicy lamb dumplings, my tooth well and truly chipped (hypothetically speaking). It suddenly dawned on me; this was hypocrisy gone mad – I was a hypocrite. Who was I to preach that one animal’s life was more important than another? Was it because I had spent many years convincing myself that the lamb on my plate was, in fact, killed humanely, fears/thinks/feels less than that of a dog and is bred specifically for our palate’s pleasure in which case it is ok to consume?!
Let me admit something before I carry on: this event didn’t actually take place – although I have in fact eaten lamb dumplings – but at some point around 5 months ago I did make the decision to cut out meat from my diet. Along with cow’s milk and eggs (where possible).
What I love most about travelling is the constant eb and flow. What I mean by that is nothing is ever set in stone when you are on the move, especially when it comes to values, opinions and goals – whether they be short term or long. That is of course as long as the mind remains open at all times to allow for this change. During my travels over the years my preconceived stereotypes have been shattered, my mind blown by the kindness of strangers, eyes opened by struggles of others and
more often than not my heart bruised by the power of hindsight. Hindsight is a wonderful thing if the time can be taken to use it, but it can also be painful if directed at yourself.
It’s quite obvious in everyday life that people struggle to admit when they are wrong and no one enjoys the realisation that sometimes they are. For me, the realisation that I had been in (what I personally deem) the wrong for a good proportion of my life every time I chose meat on the menu, was a seriously bitter, chewy reality for me to swallow.
When I look back on the past 7 years of post-school, all I see is irony and hypocritical actions of my own doing. To enlighten you: I spent 2 years studying Animal Management in hope to one day become a field worker in Africa, protecting the incredible wildlife in their natural habitat. During these 2 years I funded Zoos with numerous visits and happily ate BBQ every night during my 6 week field trip to the African bush itself.
Three years ago I embarked on a field trip to Corsica to learn about Environmental issues and protection of the landscape, but one year later I happily boarded 9 flights within 9 months because it was part of my job (a really cool one, granted).
“We as humans have an innate ability to mould our beliefs and values depending on the given situation.”
I could go on highlighting my faults, but what is the point? My intention is not for self-pity or sympathy from you, but a mere chance to highlight a trait in all of us: we as human beings have an innate ability to mould our beliefs and values depending on the given situation. Usually for self-gratification and that lovely ability to just ‘let it go’ from your mind and carry on, guilt free. I spy a potential t-shirt catchphrase there.
As I began stepping the stones to a new level of understanding, I was soon faced with a 95% gradient of overwhelming information. Documentary films, books and an infinite amount of online articles all covering the subjects of vegetarianism, veganism, the agricultural industry, fish farms, fast food and societal demands suddenly consumed my spare time. It became apparent that a lot of things were/are being hidden from the general public in regards to the meat industry in particular. These things are what would bring profit down and essentially eradicate thousands of jobs if enough people were to find out. The fantastic thing about media and the power of the internet is that we live in a day and age where the information is there, you just have to want to find it.
The past few months have been a roller coaster of emotions; admitting hypocritical actions and overcoming them isn’t easy. Learning to deal with people when they hear of your new found value is draining. Holding back the urge to educate people with my new found facts is necessary – to push my beliefs on others would be mirroring that of religion.
“Life is a journey and we never really grow up.”
Originally this post was heading down the road of ranting, to deliver enough guilty-feeling-inducing rhetorical questions that you would have no option but to stop eating meat. But again, how many times have I judged vegans on the basis that “that is going too far, there is no fun in eating vegetables”.
I could list the documentaries that I feel everyone should watch to better judge their actions, but I won’t. I could detail the reasons why I decided to give up a lifetime habit, but I won’t. I am far from perfect and this is just one step towards living a eco-friendly lifestyle and minimising my carbon footprint.
All I want to really say is that life is a journey and we never really grow up. That one question we all get asked when we are younger – what do you want to be – can surely never be answered. If you allow your mind to open and accept emotional struggle as part of the process then sure, you will continue to grow and grow and grow, but to ‘grow up’ just sounds so final. Where’s the fun in that?
My favourite question as a child was “why?” – a question that I will continuously ask in my lifetime. A question that allows change, personal growth and higher understanding, and a constant reminder of that fed-up look on my mum’s face as I asked it for the umpteenth time that day.