Deciding to be a vegetarian was an idea I played with for 23 years of my life. I have always loved and adored animals whether they were a dog or a pig. I have always been against the mistreatment of an animal and even cried when I saw animals being slaughtered in a movie. I never noticed a difference between animals kept as pets and animals that were killed for food, but for some reason I still ate pigs, cows and chickens. However, I refused to eat deer, lamb, or duck but still didn’t understand why I ate some animals but not all. Did I think some animals were cuter than others? What made one better than the other? I wondered why I did this time and again, but I guess I thought that it was normal to eat certain animals and that it was just what people did, no matter how horrid it really was.
I remember being about 11 years old and someone at school told me that hot dogs were made from “cow tongue.” I was horrified and after hearing this, I stopped eating hot dogs for what seemed like a long period of time. Later in life, however, I started eating them again, forgetting how badly the truth about hot dogs had hit me in the past.
Like most people, I put my blinders on when I ate a pig or a cow and failed to remember how the pig got on my plate. The strange this is, I never even enjoyed the taste of meat. I usually had to choke it down and force myself to eat it because I thought it was healthy and good for me, or that I needed to eat it. I just thought it was something a normal, healthy person had to do. Now I look back and think about how absolutely ridiculous it all is, and how it is so completely unfair that one living being should have to give up its life in order for a person to be “healthy.” This is absurd considering how many other healthy and cruelty-free foods are available to eat.
Thankfully, I came to my senses and made the best decision of my lifetime. I decided to become a vegetarian after so many years of saying that “someday I would be a vegetarian, and eventually give up animal products altogether.” I started my journey fighting for animal rights in high school, and then a few years ago I became involved with local shelters and later the Animal Humane Society. I stood up for animal rights, but specifically for dogs and cats, and other small animals. I felt like I was making a difference and hopefully saving some of the pets in need of homes, but I wanted to do more.
Eventually I started writing for This Dish is Veg, which truly changed my life since I began exploring new news topics and articles. The people who write about these subjects changed my life as well with their inspiring stories and encouragement. Really, all I needed was that final push from someone. It goes to show that one person can truly make a difference.
Soon after, I started participating in “Meatless Mondays” and quickly began eating less meat. Finally, I read the book titled, “Why do we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows?” by Dr. Melanie Joy. After reading the first couple of chapters, I vowed to give up meat completely, and just like that, I stopped eating meat. I completely agree with the saying, “once you know, you can’t un-know.” I certainly wasn’t going to read the book and go back to my normal life and pretend as if I didn't know how horribly animals are treated before and during slaughter. Plus, being the compassionate person that I am, I think murder of any kind is wrong. Especially to defenseless beings. I won’t put my blinders back on and pretend like eating an animal is right, because it’s not.
Since I became a vegetarian, I have never enjoyed cooking more. There is something so exhilarating about cooking tasty meals and not having to worry about dying from e-coli over the meal not being cooked fully, and knowing that something didn’t die for my selfish needs. I can eat a meal without worrying about the consequences, and it is a wonderful feeling. I am learning something new every day and cooking has become my favorite hobby. I just hope that more people follow in my footsteps and realize that living with blinders on is not living at all. There is so much more to life, and while it is hard to know the things that we know, it is so much better than living with blindfolds on.
Photo credit: Maxpate