I was too conditioned to accept the idea that eating meat is perfectly 'normal'. That meat is a staple in a human's diet, & that humans are designed to be omnivores.
Up to last year, about a month before I started my Yoga Teacher Training course, I decided to stop eating beef. It's not because I prefer cows over other farm animals, it's just that I figured it would be a relatively easier one to let go of, because I usually had chicken most of the time & I loooved mutton. & suddenly in every establishment I go to, the best burgers are all beef burgers! Dafuq! Being a Maccas kind of girl, it somewhat disappointed me that I couldn't have my favourite double cheeseburger anymore. But I stuck with my decision. No beef.
During Teacher Training, we were requested to try to stay away from meat as much as we could; at the very least we should refrain from meat from Fridays to Sundays (it was a three month weekend course). No biggie either, since I always loved my greens even from childhood. No fights at the dinner table about unfinished broccoli & carrots, no sirree! Still, I craved meat from time to time.
This went on up until early this year, I came across a link to this documentary entitled Earthlings.
I've always been one who tears up easily both when watching something heart-warming & tragic, so I usually stayed away from media which come with warnings in their captions or descriptions. Somehow, this time, something told me I had to watch this documentary.
& Lord Almighty, I cried when I watched it. I cried because of the unnecessary cruelty, I cried because of the hurt & suffering, I cried because it only then occurred to me I was a part of all this.
I was contributing to this massacre.
A person who grew up around cats & dogs more than humans.
A person who, at most times, felt more comfortable around animals than humans.
& all my life, I'd been indirectly murdering the cousins of my four-legged friends for their meat???
It made me feel so bad, for the first few minutes after I finished watching that video, I lay in bed replaying over & over again this short video that my Favourite Human had sent me - a B&W fifteen second video of him plucking the strings of his guitar. The sound of the guitar soothed me a bit since I did not want to wake him & bawl my eyes out over Skype (we live in different time zones).
I felt sick in my stomach, I went numb, then I finally got out of my state of shock. A few days later.
I cannot say it without sounding clichéd - it was like a veil was lifted over my head.
I understood everything that was happening. Saw the reality of the whole situation.
It's like my subconscious knew that consuming meat was wrong, yet my conscious did not want to acknowledge that. I was still in the 'herd' mentality - 'the majority of society says it is acceptable, so it must be'! & by avoiding coming face to face with reality, I successfully deluded myself into accepting the consumption of meat as the norm.
From then onwards, I managed to refrain from all meat, for the most part. The craving for meat would surface at least once every few weeks. & most of the time I would succumb, but feel guilty after.
You see, addiction is basically the same, regardless of the substance/object one is addicted to. Even if the addict acknowledges the fact that his/her behaviour is harmful, he/she still finds it very hard to detach from it. & so it is with humans & meat.
We've been so conditioned - mentally & physically - to accept meat; & you see it everywhere, this psychological propaganda, this brainwashing; that meat is good for you, meat makes you strong, meat eaters are so much more awesomer-er than non meat eaters, etc. & it is not easy to go cold turkey (no pun intended!) with something you've been doing all your life!
I'm not giving excuses. I'm stating my experience, no holds barred.
I think it's worth mentioning that people decide to go meatless for different reasons.
First of all you have those who refrain from meat (either just certain types or all types) because their religion does not allow it.
Some people are naturally more connected to their physical bodies. These people feel the profound effects that meat-eating has on their bodies.
Others enjoy eating meat, but cease to do so once they realize that innocent beings are needlessly suffering.
Please let me know if there are any other reasons one would go meatless; I would love to add on to these!
I myself, fall into the third category. My tastebuds truly enjoy meat. But my consciousness started turning me off when I realized that a lot of suffering had to happen just for me to fulfil my desires.
I have a very special feline in my life who goes by the name of Karas (his official name is Crusty Raincat). When I shifted to KL, he came along with me but had to stay at the stables because I live in a rented house. & the thought of him staying there used to terrify me, because there were a few Vietnamese workers around & rumour had it that they would catch & eat cats.
The human imagination is a wonderful thing. Sure enough, once I had images of cows, goats, & other animals being 'harvested' for their meat, images of Karas being hurt would sometimes come to mind. & it breaks my heart to think that someone would intentionally hurt him, what more consume his flesh.
The first time I learnt to question the concept of 'loving cats & dogs, but eating cows & pigs', there was no turning back. A cow & a pig - any animal for that matter - responds to outside stimuli, don't they? They respond to pleasant experiences, & they react to unpleasant experiences, don't they? They all have that in-built intrinsic need & desire to live comfortable, pain-free lives, don't they?
So why should there be a difference between 'pets' & 'other animals'???
Why are some animals deemed 'edible' while others are 'man's best friend'???
Who gets to decide the value of a soul???
Why the fuck am I participating in this senseless killing when there are other options available???
& it's not only the killing of living beings for their meat that pisses me off. We kill animals for their skin, we kill animals for their fur, we kill animals to hang their heads on our walls; tell me...where is the guts & glory in hiding hundreds of metres away from a lion, shooting it dead (or multiple times until it finally dies) with a high-impact device, posing for photographs next to its dead body with its jaw wide open to expose its fangs, then hanging its 'taxidermized' head on your wall for bragging rights???
I'm not saying that killing animals is cool, but if you had wrestled the animal to the ground & killed it with your own bare hands, then I'd say you had balls of steel. Other than that, don't be a pussy (no disrespect intended, Karas) & kill animals from a distance.
Back to the main point though.
Earlier today I was at my wit's end wondering what to have for dinner (first world problems?), & again ended up at the nearest mamak shop. My brain said, 'The food there is always good, right? So it's a sure thing'.
When I was handed the menu, I suddenly became confused & somewhat disoriented. The place had a wide array of dishes to choose from, but somehow I could not decide on one. I blamed it on the shop not being a vegetarian spot, & my Libra indecisiveness. Analysis paralysis sometimes happens to me, but this time it was so bad, I couldn't even process some of the words in front of me. 99% of what was in the menu had meat of some sort. In the end, I just chose fried rice.
As I left the shop, it suddenly occurred to me the stark contrast between a chance encounter with a vegetarian shop I had a few days earlier & the one I had just experienced at the mamak shop. The vegetarian shop was a very small one, the menu was less than a third of what the mamak shop offered. Yet from the moment I stepped into the establishment, there was a sense of peace & ease about it. It was not difficult for me to choose a main dish (the juice, however, was a different matter...so many choices! Bahahahahah!), All in all, the whole experience was calming & nurturing.
& I did not feel like crap after my meal. I have started to become more sensitive to foods since cutting down on meat (wouldn't be fair to say 'stopping meat' because I still succumb once in a few weeks, remember?). Even mashed potatoes & coleslaws from fast food outlets would result in me feeling heavy & bogged down, sometimes even before finishing them.
My physical body has not only become sensitive to meat, but to whatever I put into it. & the principle that eating meat is wrong is becoming more & more ingrained in me that my mental & emotional bodies become overwhelmed when presented with more meaty food choices than non-meaty. It really shouldn't though. It has never ever happened before, & so far I have been able to walk through meat sections in supermarkets without any negative emotions surfacing. I may need to test that out again.
This is my interpretation of what is happening so far. I may be wrong. I may just be a whiny whimp looking for comfort from the harsh realities of life.
I am really happy that I am heading in the right direction though.
It's 2am & I've been writing for more than seven hours now - but that's also mostly because in the earlier part of the night I was going back & forth between browsing the Internet & writing, bahahahahahah! So I'm going to be a naughty writer & not read through this post like I would usually do before publishing.
Nitey nite, peoples.
Another film worth watching is La Planète Sauvage (1973), directed by René Laloux. The film explores the idea of speciesism on a milder level than Earthlings.
Later today, I'm watching The Ghosts In Our Machine (2013), directed by Liz Marshell.