Many of you may have asked yourselves quite often whether or not to become vegetarian, but then came to the conclusion that it would be too hard, or that you would miss chicken too much. If truth be told, it is hard to go against what the majority of people around you do, and change a habit that has been embedded for years, but once you have gathered enough information about why vegetarianism is so beneficial, I guarantee you will feel as though you are making a great change in the world.
The first problem that stands before us is how the meat and dairy industries hide so much from us and display eating meat as good, healthy, and humanely processed. More and more often, you hear about humanely slaughtered animals. What most of us don’t think about is that there is no such thing as a humanely slaughtered animal. No living creature ever wants to be killed, and will struggle to protect its own life. Even free-range farms are frequently exposed as frauds, where the “free-range” part consists of a door that is opened a crack for five minutes every day and the animals never see the sunlight. Meat is also carefully displayed to us, so that most of the time we see no resemblance to the animal that it once was. If someone was to ask you what your favourite meat was, you might say chicken, or beef, or something along those lines. If I asked you whether you like to eat chickens, or cows, or do you like to eat pigs, there is a completely different perspective! Unlike true meat eaters, like lions, we don’t actually crave the actual animal; we crave the flavouring that we add to it when we cook it. If you like to eat salami, you don’t feel the need to go and hunt a pig and eat its flesh raw, but rather you miss the salt and fat that is part of the salami. This is the first thing to recognise, and once you realise what your favourite flavours are, you can substitute them with non-meat foods. A strange thing that makes many vegetarians wonder is why people make a distinction between farm and house animals. If your own pet was going to be put on the table for dinner, you would certainly protest, but if it were a chicken from a foreign farm you wouldn’t! These things are strange to think about, but we have been taught to create a barrier between our own pets and animals that are meant for eating. On our plates they no longer look like animals, so we no longer think of them as deceased living creatures, just as food.
Leading climatologists state that the best thing to do, to stop global warming, is to become a vegetarian or vegan. By decreasing the amount of products you buy from the meat and dairy industry, you also decrease the amount of methane released by cows, because the meat/dairy industry will stop breeding as many cows if the demand for cow products subsides. Not only is methane decreased, but trees are also saved because less forest space needs to be cleared for grazing grounds. Not only are you saving resources by not eating meat, but you could also save people. To produce one kilogram of grain you need 100 litres of water, whereas to produce one kilogram of beef, you need 100,000 litres of water. Imagine if the world focused their efforts on feeding people with a vegetarian diet, rather than gifting them a pig; it would save so many litres of water, and would feed people faster.
I hear from so many people that their parents, especially their mothers, would kill them if they became vegetarians or vegans. What most people should realise is that our mothers or fathers worry that they won’t be able to keep us healthy if we change diets and that they will have to add a huge workload to the cooking. The solution is to research what you need to stay healthy, such as green, leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts and lots of fruit. What you can also do, if you’re serious about trying out vegetarianism, is offer to help with the cooking, if it adds to your parents’ workload because you don’t want to eat meat. If you present the information correctly so that your parents can see you are serious about it, then they are more likely to accept it. When I first became vegetarian, both my parents were eating meat, but soon after they changed when they saw the benefits that came with quitting meat. Once your family gets used to your new diet change, they are likely to be motivated by the change, and are introduced to many new foods, such as tofu and soy sausages.
At the start it feels nearly impossible, and sometimes you fall back into your old habits because of temptations, or because you feel pressured, but being a vegetarian actually frees you rather than restricts you. You don’t need to feel guilty about causing something else pain, or at least you know you are causing less pain in the animal world. Once the blindfold has been removed and you see what the beautifully gift-wrapped meat industry is really like, it is difficult to turn back. So I challenge you to try 30 days without eating meat. Just give it a go! You can always go back, but I assure you, you will like the new person you become afterwards.
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