‘Why?’, ‘Do you really think you’ll change anything?’, ‘Why are you restricting yourself, you only live once!’, ‘Wow, that’s tough!’
These and others were the reactions that were thrown in my way once I decided to stop eating meat and fish. People suddenly seemed very concerned about my well-being. Ironically, no one ever replied ‘Great job!’. It made me wonder why people don’t perceive vegetarianism as a form of activism but rather as a form of dietary restraint. It is true that I never stopped eating meat because I didn’t like the taste but I never thought that there was a hierarchy in the food chain that determines your well-being as a person. Buuut before I dive into the ethical debate, let’s take one step at a time.
- What I eat and What I don’t eat
I haven’t eaten meat at all- and I didn’t miss it a bit. After watching educational documentaries such as Earthlings I only saw dead animals on other people’s plates instead of meat. When someone told me they ate a ‘steak’ I translated it in my head to ‘cow’ and when someone ordered ‘chicken wings’ I pictured ‘shredded chick’. Sorry for the explicit language, but if you think about it, it’s nothing but the plain truth. As you can tell, meat wasn’t a real problem. I had more difficulties when it came to fish. I used to love fish and after not eating fish for 4 months, I ate it in again when Andy and I were in Croatia. Afterwards, I felt sick. However, I think it wasn’t because I ate fish but because I was so unfortunate to consume it at a bad restaurant. After that, it took me again some month,s until November I believe when I ate a Thai fish cake. I think that in the entire year I ate fish four times. I already hear people scream ‘but then you are a pescetarian!’. If you believe that 5 times out of 365 of eating fish makes me a pescetarian- then so may it be. Now in relation to what I actually eat, I have to say that I’m not one of those people that can eat the same oatmeal recipe for months. I need change. When I’m in Utrecht, where I live by myself, I often eat a vegan diet since I prefer non-diary milk anyways. Sometimes, I have to indulge in cheese, which is also quite easy to do since I live in the Netherlands. When I’m back in Luxembourg, I eat more vegetarian meals since they are easier to coordinate with my family’s meals.
- ‘Fitness& Health
I think that I have mentioned before that I’m not one of those women that can devour pizza, pasta and ice cream all day and still have a Victoria’s Secret prototype body. Sad but true. Yet, going vegetarian does not necessarily imply weight-loss. It might even backfire if you substitute meat and fish with sugar-loaded food such as white pasta. I haven’t lost any weight since going vegetarian, neither have I gained weight. Even if I eat a lot of veggies and fruit, my shift to a plant-based nutrition hasn’t really impacted the figure on the scale. HOWEVER, my skin has benefitted a lot from the meatless diet. I used to struggle with hormonal imbalance before I went vegetarian. I still have some spots if my stress levels go crazy (shout-out to the deadlines and interviews) but overall my skin hails the new diet.
- Mental Well-being & Thoughts
Now, we can finally broach on people’s favourite subject. My well-being- I appreciate the concern.
A key change has been my perception of Life. What it means to live and what a life signifies in our society. I never really thought about specism, that is the superiority of humans that leads to the mistreatment of certain animals. The definition even goes further since WE, as humans decide what species deserves to sleep in our beds and which one needs to be confined with twenty other animals to one square meter. With our scientific improvements, we might have reached a lot and prevented the death of many people, which I support of course. However, most of the scientific improvements are done for human betterment. Everything turns around the human- the Anthropocene. What would happen if for once we changed our paradigm and acted for, say the sake of animals? If we placed animals at the centre of Earth? One of the only characteristics that makes us ‘superior’ (and I hate using this word here) is our awareness of the power of our mental capacities. And still- we’re not only close to animals because of our anatomy: cows, pigs, chicken- those animals we tend to discount and mistreat daily- show curiosity, pain, affection, employ tools and even use language.
I don’t want to preach in this blog post and I certainly don’t hate people who eat meat- my boyfriend loves meat. Still, closing your eyes and covering your ears to the reality of things is cowardice. Yes- humans have always eaten meat. But the production and the treatment of animals has never been as it is today. You can no longer compare the consumerist demands with how humans used to slaughter meat- it’s a simple fact. Easy, fast and cheap is what we want- so don’t expect more in the production process.I don’t try to convert you to vegetarianism (and if I convinced you, yeeey). But my key message is to show you that the customs of our society have been carved into our brains and often we forget to use what we think makes us so superior to animals: our intelligence. We simply forget to question certain norms and habits. Once you start doing that, you might discover injustices and a lot of pain. If it affects you, you’ll start to detect small ways in which you can lessen those injustices. I have still so many things about myself I want to change in order to live a more sustainable life… such as plastic in waste, which is a whole other topic on which I don’t want to get started because it’s an entire blog post. We should all take a step back, use our brains and detect where things can be amended. Not necessarily for yourself, but for the love of us all. And by us, I don’t mean humans, but every energy-emanating creature.