” We need both- yin and yang.” – Michelle Phan
Learning to live together on this Earth has proven to be impossible to humanity. Our paradigms have pushed us to extremes where we forget what truly matters in life, and what isolates us humans into one-sided parties. This relates to nearly everything that we obsess about, and here I want to write about our culinary behaviour.
Since not too long ago, I have become a vegetarian, and an on-off vegan (label it as you want). Andy has eaten meat since forever, and he loves meat and doesn’t even think about giving it up any time soon. Do I object to this? Not at all, and here’s why.
As with religions, political views and other moral paradigms, one’s eating behaviour shouldn’t be altered through external forces. If the conviction doesn’t start from oneself, then one shouldn’t hope for a consistent belief in movements such as veganism.
Bullying is bullying, and exclusion is exclusion. Even if veggies or vegans are advocating their movement with the beneficial outcome for the planet, the animals and us humans, creating outcasts is as wrong as it is for other extremist groups. It’s easy to judge people if you don’t make the effort to understand why they stand for their beliefs.
That being said, I have been ethically convinced that a restriction on animal products, meat and fish in particular, will bring beneficial and sustainable results. I don’t support the torture of animals that takes place in industrial livestock farmings, nor do I believe that some animals are superior to others. Even so, I strongly believe in the medical healing that a meat-less diet promotes. However, it hasn’t always been the case. And that’s precisely why I would never object to Andy’s eating habits.
There are so many factors that influence our eating habits, often in correlation with our culture and upbringings. In our families, eating has been a social coming-together, often the only one during our parents’ working days, and the children’s school days. Rather than questioning the food, dinner or lunch became the time where every family member’s well-being was analyzed and cared for.
Keeping that in mind, our eating behaviours relate to psychological connections we have established. Andy, for instance, relates his love for meat to the homely kitchen of his mother, or to chilly evenings with his friends. For me it’s not exactly the same. Even though I have the same luck of being in a lovely family that prioritizes a coming-together dinner, I associate meat consumption with more negative aspects in my life. As a child, I loved meat. Even so, I was a quite obese child, which was a psychological burden to me. So when I think about my ultimate favourite dish as a child (spaghetti bolognese), I immediately think about how I used to devour three plates as a child, reaching far over my hunger. Now as a young woman, I have discovered the vegetarian diet for myself, without any connection to my obesity as a child. In that way, vegetarism (alternatively veganism) has opened new doors for me that help to erase the psychological connections with obesity. So, saving the animals is just another positive aspect that truly motivates me to stop the meat consumption, but I’d be careful in stating that it is the only motivation for my vegetarian diet.
Nonetheless, Andy and I are animal lovers. Even if he loves meat, he tries to stick to brands about which he possesses a slight idea how the meat is being produced. There’s a difference between a conscious meat-eater, and one that supports chain restaurants of which the whole world knows by now that what they serve falls under the lowest standards of food production.
I hope that this post shows how our eating habits are far more closely linked with our inner, psychological home, than with our strivings to create a better world. So far, I’ve never met a person that wasn’t a bit self-obsessed and on a constant journey with themselves. Even though vegans might come across as morally perfect human beings, I’m pretty sure that most of them firstly discovered the diet while looking for a remedy for a health issue. And for meat eaters, I believe that many want to go meat-less, or resign animal products, but psychological connections make it extremely hard to do so. I mean, if we cared anyway less about ourselves, wouldn’t it be easy for us all to eat whatever was best for our whole planet?