Hello beautiful souls!
I have been writing and rewriting this post for quite a while. I feel like I should be clear about this topic, so I decided to come clear: I’m not vegan. But before anything you might say, I’ll tell you a story…
When I became vegetarian 3 years ago, I decided that I didn’t want to contribute with the dirty meat industry anymore and therefore, on the very next day, I gave up on meat. For good. What I didn’t do was to give up on all animal by-products. Therefore, I still eat eggs, cheese and honey.
I already shared a bit of my background with you all but if you don’t know where I’m from it’s difficult to understand where my choices come from. I grew up in southern Brazil. My mother’s family is from an Italian background and I grew up spending my holidays at their farm. Everything came from it. Fruit, veggies, flour, milk, eggs and meat.
Not only I enjoyed the fresh food thoroughly but I also helped sow and harvest tomatoes and corn, milk the cows and get the fresh eggs from the chickens. I also saw the brutal reality of cows and pigs being slaughtered. I never thought of it as a pretty scene but I understood at the time that those cows and pigs were my family’s nourishment and ‘income’. They’d trade the meat for other vegetables or cheese or even for work done at the farm. It was their way of making business and the community grew and worked well that way. Eating meat was also an important part of their diet as their worked hard and for long hours on the farm. Everything was produced there. Everything was consumed there.
Another practice that my family always made sure to share through the newer generations was the precious act of praying before any meals. We would bow our heads and let the elder voice their prayers with thanks for all the blessed food we had in front of us. The act of praying before the food is observed in many cultures, including in nomad tribes in Africa where the hunters would thank the animal’s life for the nourishment given.
At the same time that I don’t agree with the way animals are treated in the modern animal factories, I don’t disagree with the act of eating meat. For example, I don’t believe that whole communities like the Inuits (a.k.a. eskimos) should stop eating meat because of animal suffering.
To me it’s all about balance.
Certain people depend on animal supplies to survive. What I don’t agree with is the fact that we in the modern society don’t acknowledge the whole system to understand the suffering animals go through so we can have a piece of steak 4 times a week (plus all the other cuts for breakfast and lunch). Not only is this the source of modern diseases but it’s incredibly out of touch with the environment and the situation we face (read Climate Change).
Think about your grandparents, the Sunday roast for example, was a very singular meal made only on a special day of the week. Meat was a scarce product. The whole family would get together and enjoy a laboriously prepared dish sided with lots of vegetables. Usually, one chicken would feed a whole family of more than 5. Sometimes even leftovers would be used to make another dish for the next day. Everything was used in the best possible way. Nothing was wasted. Fresh food was commonplace. Eating meat was not. It was a moment to be grateful for.
I believe, this to be one of the basic differences from past generations and the newest ones. We have become so disconnected from our food that we fail to recognise where it comes from. In result, people lack the ability to understand how the end product they get in their table originated and we simply become blind by pretty words like ‘natural’ and ‘fresh’ failing to avoid overly processed food. It has become so frugal to drive to the supermarket, pack your trolley with plasticised pieces of what once was a cow and then serve it later with a sauce that contains more ingredients that you can pronounce and some veggies that came from the freezer or from a can.
No wonder our society is overweight yet nutritionally starved.
But hey, what does that have to do with the fact that I’m not vegan? Well, it kinda connects somehow…
When I decided to stop eating meat, I did it because I didn’t agree with the methods used by the current factory farms. I don’t believe that eating meat that comes from extremely debilitated animals who suffered throughout their entire lives would make me any good. Nor do I lack or miss any nutrients from not eating meat. However, I still eat eggs, honey and the occasional cheese.
You see, it’s not that I don’t care about where and how those by-products were produced, but I know that I can engage in better purchase practices that ensure the animals are treated humanely and with dignity. I pay attention to where my food comes from and I give preference for products that are made locally, organically and ethically.
One of the best tools for that was a search engine I finally found through some local community groups where I can purchase items such as fruits, eggs and honey straight from the producers. No middle man. Plus I can go and check where and how the produce is made or cared for. Head to their website and find out more here: Food Forage (currently only available in Australia).
I believe that being vegan is an important and valid path to help reduce animal suffering. However, I also understand that many (and by many I mean the majority of) people still think that they would never be able to achieve such an instance of giving up all animal products.
Therefore, I think that is valid that each of us strive to do the best possible when it comes to animal rights. If you can’t stop eating cheese, than reduce or cut your intake on other animals products and give yourself a little time till you manage to reduce or even give up on the animal product you eat the most. To me, it’s important that we all understand that every little bit helps. Even a ‘Meatless Monday’ can help reduce meat intakes and support the growing cruelty free industry.
And while we are at it, I’m pretty certain everyone can help avoid beauty and cleaning products that are tested in animals or made with any animal by-products. For a full list, go here: Choose Cruelty Free & Leaping Bunny.
As I once heard from a great educator, we always have to do the best possible in the most kind way. If we offer the possibility for people to understand that everyone can help animals, the environment and their health without having to change their lives upside down, wouldn’t that be great?
Change starts in the little things and if we can help everyone get together to jump onboard and promote a healthier lifestyle for ourselves and the planet, why not?
I believe that each of us have the responsibility to help our planet and incite others to care for the world we live in. We are facing though times and pretending that it’s too late or that we can’t make any difference to the health of the planet is as hurtful as it is wrong. We, as consumers, hold the power to create change and to send the industry a message.
We want change.
Peace and love,