You’ve heard it all before. Becoming vegetarian – even for #MeatlessMonday, or as a #WeekdayVegetarian – achieves a whole host of potential health benefits, according to Harvard. And accomplishes many equally positive environmental benefits, as noted by The Guardian. Benefits include:
- Lower risk for heart disease
- Lower risk of cancer
- Lower risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Reducing your personal impact on climate change
- Reducing use of water
- Reducing deforestation and destruction of land
- Reducing greenhouse gasses
For many years, I’d had a lot of personal, internal struggle about my love for animals versus me personally eating animals. (Psychologists call it “cognitive dissonance.”)
Granted, many animals eat other animals. Some animals eat only vegetation – the herbivores. Some animals eat only meat – the carnivores. Humans are capable of existing by eating either or both – omnivores.
I will tell you what finally sold me on trying out being vegetarian.
It was the pictures.
It was all the photos of the beautiful, kind-faced animals and baby animals on Pinterest (and Instagram, and Facebook) every day. Those were what kept gnawing at my psyche. All those sweet, innocent animals, who often were smiling, in loving places, with kind people. Compared to the faces of animals showing loneliness, pain, sadness, torture, and death in factory farming.
At the end of the day, I think about my puppy. How sweet and happy he is, how he is an animal who lucked out by being a cute baby dog, landing in a home full of hugs and cuddles and ear scratches and belly rubs. Instead of being a cute baby lamb, or cow, or pig, landing in another place full of loneliness, sadness, and death.
My puppy brings me feelings of instant joy, love, and happiness, every moment he is around. He jumps up and wags his tale when I come home. I feel like those baby lambs, goats, pigs, and cows would bring the same love and joy if I met them. They’d shake and wag their tales, too. Their sweet faces! And I have met them all, at fairs. Petted them, like puppies. So adorable!
So, for me, it came down to an empathy for other caring beings who experience emotions, which mammals do. How can I justify picking one to be lucky, and one to die? Personally, I can’t. To me, they all seem so cuddly in all the Pinterest photos. It’s impossible to separate one from the other.
So last year, I only ate meat a couple times, when family made it and it seemed complicated to explain or justify my feelings of loss and sadness about eating animals.
But this year, my 17-year-old daughter and I have both been 100% vegetarian and feel better both emotionally and physically. Like many 17-year-olds, my daughter is gung-ho about saving the environment (thank goodness!), and was pushing me to go Veggie.
Whatever choices anyone makes are their own, and I always want to listen, learn, and empathize with ideas or values different than my own. So, this is just an explanation for why I personally decided to become vegetarian.
What thoughts do you have? Have you decided to become vegetarian or vegan? How did the people you care about react? I’d love to hear your positive and insightful comments!