For 30 years of my life, I’ve eaten meat. Meat has always been a central theme to nearly any and all meals. I use to tell my mom as a child “No meat, no eat”. So she literally cooked a meat dish for nearly every meal in my life. I don’t think that is an uncommon thing for any family or person actually. Meat is the best tasting and most anticipated part of the meal.
Being Asian, I think meat might be even more central. Many meals for Cambodians only deal with simple fish and rice. So any other meat is a prize. To have the abundance of meat at a grocery store, we will want to eat and keep eating meat to our hearts content. Beef, chicken, lamb, fish, crabs, lobster, you name it we wanted to eat it.
I never really cared to look into being vegetarian and have met plenty people in my life who were. Some just didn’t like the idea of flesh; others had traumatic experiences as children that made them stay away. While some can even do it for religious reasons. I got my first real experience of its impacts at a Washington DC Green Expo back in 2009. Vendors were set up being sustainable and green way of life. Many of these vendors provided green, vegan foods for guests to try. I had never seen so many people look so healthy in my life. People well into their 50’s and 60’s with shiny skin and hair. Eyes were bright and full of life. I was quite amazed.
Only until a year ago, I just really start thinking about myself, my life and what I wanted to do with it. There was always documentaries that show vegetarianism and veganism as the thing to do. I watched this one called Cowspiracy which showed how factory farms were a major contributor of greenhouse pollution and causing climate change. Though the main focal point was not to become vegetarian on a life issue but as a planet issue. A lot of the information was not new to me having studied it for so many years.
It was absolutely appalling to see the factory farming. Millions of animals dying everyday to feed our desires. Chickens cramped in cages, cows being mistreated and beat up, animals skinned alive. And 99% of male chickens are killed in the first few minutes of life because they provide no overall value!!! YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!! I think that was my primary driver that how animals are treated. Lets say all these animals were treated well and lived for a long time. I think I might be more OK with people eating meat. Everything was just driven purely by profits. I was against the system of abusing and killing animals. ANd this is how the world works. My initial stance was to be against the system and how they treated animals raised for consumption.
But that documentary did spark a question in my brain and discussion with my wife. “Why reason do I have not to become vegetarian?” I care for the planet. Check. I love animals. Check. I want to be healthy. Check. And Check and Check. So then I asked myself, “Why do I need to eat meat?”. What benefit does it provide to the earth and myself to eat it. Only reason, it taste good. From there, it continued on an endless circle of reasoning in my head. Other things taste good too, why does it have to be meat? Do I want to kill a life just because it taste good. No, not really. I love my pets, I love life, why am I eating them for my own satisfaction. Seemed rather selfish.
After much debate in my own brain and with my wife. It just clicked. Just do it. Become vegetarian. Simply its the right thing to do. It seemed like an epiphany in my life. I felt good, well, I felt really good. It came down to, I just valued life too much. All life is precious. No matter what shape or form. The fact is, I WANT to eat it, I do not NEED to eat a life to enjoy my own. There are a billion other things that make me happy, not eating meat anymore will not lessen my life and joy. Lots of things taste good with no meat. Pizza, fried tofu, good fruit, breads, cheese, etc. I can do this.
I thought it was something I might not be able to do. I just realized I needed to take it day by day. One meal at a time with no meat. It seemed like a long process and goal but it wasn’t. I was easily able to cut nearly 90% of my meals with no meat in no time. I didn’t feel I needed to eat meat, I didn’t have a sense of missing out. And now a year has passed and I’m still doing it, I still feel good. Its a cause I believe in and what I want to fight for. Each meal I eat is a stance against relentless killing of life.
It is a choice in the end, every meal is a choice. What you eat at the restaurant or buy from grocery store is a choice. And thats what it comes down to as a major game changer. No, you’re body does not NEED to eat meat as a human. You can survive and live perfectly fine without it, plenty of studies out there just google it. If we needed to eat meat, then well we would be carnivores. But we our omnivores and are able to eat both plant and meat. For the longest time we needed to eat anything to survive and meat was a good way to be full and get nutrients. We do not need to hunt for food to be full and provide for families. Its at a grocery store now less than 10 minutes way. Nowadays, you can get anything you want living or no n living and still be fine.
It is how you want to live your life and what you value. I do not expect everybody to just drop eating any and all meat right away. But to just sit and think for a moment what you are doing. Do you really need to kill that animal for a good meal? Do you really need to eat that much meat to be satisfied? Don’t you think if we slaughter all these animals, they should at least live decently for what little time they have on this earth?
So in the end, it is your choice on what you want to do. And my choice is to value all life. #alllifematters