“Hi, my name is Dominique and I was a meat eater.”
Sounds like I’m standing at a meeting right? Except it’s not AA it’s not OA, NA or even GA. It’s my own version of APCA and I have just checked myself in.
What am I talking about you wonder? I am an Animal Product Consumer in Recovery (the A in my ___ stands for anonymous, except after today I am so not. Anonymous that is. In my belief that we have to look at what happens behind the scenes that results in a polystyrene-trayed, plastic-wrapped pack of pork chops. And that carton of eggs. That pack of cheese, and uhm, yes, that bottle of milk.
As of when you ask?
Today. At about 13:20, just after I’d eaten my lentil and quinoa salad for lunch and gone ahead and watched a YouTube video suggested by my sister, with a disclaimer: “It’s hectic, just warning you. Time to go vegan?” A small blessing – I hadn’t just consumed a parts of a dead animal. I can’t imagine what I might have done then. That was pure fluke. Because while most of the time I eat legumes and such because they are healthy, I really, really enjoy me some meat occasionally.
This is the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tzrRmB40l00 And I shall disclaim: watch it knowing that if you have any feelings at all, you will at least shed a tear. Shall I get on with it then?
Some of you might go watch the video right now. Great. Come back to this point afterwards and continue reading, okay? For those of you who didn’t race to watch it – it took a full 24 hours for me to watch it after my sister suggested it because, well I’m intuitive like that and I realised I might never be the same again. I wasn’t. I’m not.
To date, it is the most disturbing thing I have watched in all 34 years of my life. Really. More so than watching dolphins being slain in China or Japan, or dogs being flayed and eaten in Vietnam; the stuff that all Facebook peeps have been predisposed to. Why? Because I love dolphins and dogs, and don’t eat them. But I drink milk, eat eggs, chicken, pork products and as I said, occasionally other beings, that aren’t plants, but have never considered how they die as a result of mass production.
This video lays bare the truth behind what we mindlessly buy at our supermarkets. It is breath-taking, the cruelty that is deemed acceptable because we have become a planet of mindless consumers. It is so easy to go to the lovely, brightly lit supermarket and pick up a packet of something that is, as I have said, is so far removed from its original state. I will sum it up – cows are beaten, shot, and lanced, while alive. Baby pigs are castrated, squealing in pain so that they do not breed because they are not bred to breed, but to die. Millions of male chicks are suffocated and drowned because on egg farms only a few are needed to breed more layers (read females, not actual layers, however yes, they produce layers of eggs) of eggs. Many pigs, cows, sheep, chickens and their babies are boiled alive to make it easier to skin and pluck them. Even fish, people. I was of the camp that fish can’t be as bad as land animals, but it turns out, they also feel pain. And like we humans need to decompress in order for our ear drums not to shatter on the way up from admiring nature’s beauty (bounty?), so do theirs when they are dragged up by our nets. Many of them come to surface with shattered ear drums and eyes almost popping out and perhaps their flopping around is more writhing in pain, much like lobsters who scream while boiled alive so we can dine on them. Ever spilt hot water on yourself, cut yourself? How about been actually boiled while alive? Castrated without painkillers, much? Had your babies ripped from you and castrated, or slaughtered? Granted, some will say that animals can’t think or quantify, like we can, or don’t feel emotion like we do, but why then do animals bond with us, given the chance? Why do they express pain? Why do they lament the death of their family members, I am sure I will hear a lot about this in the comment section – hopefully from science people.
So, I watched the video, albeit sometimes with fingers only allowing a fraction of the screen in, and then later tears blurring the pictures, sometimes even trying to tell myself “It’s just shock tactics.”, but eventually just giving into the horror of what millions of animals go through on our planet. So we can dine.
I watched till the end and sat with wet cheeks and decided right then and there that I have to make some changes in my lifestyle. My typical gung-ho nature sprang immediately to immediately turning vegan, then coming up with campaigns to promote veganism, until said sister said “Whoa Dom! This is a massive adjustment. Just make the changes and let it sit with you for a year or so and then if we want to we can do all that campaign stuff. We are not experts.” I paraphrase, but that’s what she meant. And she is right. Passionate, yes. Expert, no. Choosing this path means exploring paths previously unexplored for 34 years, and facing and changing conditioning of the same age.
So, while I explore this “vegan” me, and I am, because I bought tofu instead of a whole free-range chicken to cook for dinner (and beyond) as I had planned for tonight, I am going to seriously look at the options available to me. At my local organic, health-food vegetarian shop I looked at the names of the farms supplying their eggs and cheeses. I am going to visit those farms and see for myself if I feel comfortable eating their products. I am going to investigate how to get enough protein and enjoy the taste of vegetarian food, to eliminate my consumption of animal products. I also want to research ancient rituals around hunting and meat consumption. I do remember reading somewhere that in ancient times man prayed to the animals it hunted, honoured the life animals gave up to them, and animal flesh was a rare treat, steeped in rituals of thanks and blessings.
Aside from all that, what today’s experience got me thinking was that aside from how we get our meat products, we tear the earth apart in so many other ways. We cut down its forests, destroying the habitat of the animals we don’t eat. We pollute the seas and the earth with plastics, lead, and coal. We destroy the ozone with the by-products of modern life. The theme for the 2013 World Environment Day was “Think. Eat. Save.” Basically, the world wastes 3.3 billion tons of food each year, food that is produced, but not consumed. How many slayings go into just the waste of food? How much coal, water? How many trees are cut down, how much CO2 and Methane are produced, just by the waste? I don’t think we think about it enough. It stands to reason then, that we treat each other equally badly because we have become so removed from our humanity, our humaneness; the living breathing planet we inhabit, and the deepest essence of ourselves in relation to the world that is often just a distant concept.
Literally, like the squealing pig that we castrate, the earth and so many of its beings; human, animal and plant; is crying, dying, traumatically, and we just carry on. So, as a fully engaged person of this time I have decided to look at what I consume in every sense of the word. Because, and this is the real truth – we only have this earth, these animals, these plants, these seas, mountains, forests and deserts, this atmosphere, this life, as long as acknowledge that it is the only one. Planet earth, and how we treat her and that live on her, is not a concept, it is our life, and the lives, or deaths, of our future generations. What will you do?
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