I was just reading an excellent article by Marc Gunther on the meat eating (bad) habits where he was wondering why the environmental NGOs are doing nothing about it. There’s next to nothing lobbying against eating meat by the environmentalists, although meat production, especially beef, is disastrous for the planet.
Meat eating keeps the meat production alive. Beef, pork and chicken take up huge areas which otherwise could be used for growing plants for increased food production. The animals are fed with soy that is most often not produced sustainably and that causes destruction of valuable rainforests. Etc.
Then there are the animal rights to account for as well – a person must be emotionally disturbed if they don’t get disturbed by the sight of how live animals are transported and treated and stored in most places. Had I not been vegetarian already, by the time I saw live chicken been dragged from their feet, tied to each other, next to a hot motorbike engine in chaotic traffic in Vietnam, well that sight would have been enough.
Yet, my story is different. I’ve been vegetarian for over 20 years. I know it’s possible to live healthy and happy without eating meat. I’ve never been preaching about being vegetarian nor tried to convert my family and friends. I’m also not about to start but I can prove how easy and doable it is. Even in vegetarian unfriendly places like the Philippines. For a sample’s sake, my story could be shared as well.
I’m vegetarian out of no noble reasons. I’m aware of the positive “side effects” of being a vegetarian but these had nothing to do with my decision to stop eating meat at the age of 14. No. I was a school girl in Finland in the mid-nineties, when vegetarian was something rare or even unheard of. But then one girl in my school did have ethical thinking and wanted to stop eating meat. The cafeteria, which must offer a free school lunch for all the students, had no choice but to prepare her a separate meal every day. When I saw her walking past the long lunch queue, walking into the kitchen and getting her special meal, something inside me lit up. I don’t need to queue either!
I became a vegetarian out of my despise for queuing.
I’ve remained a vegetarian for all these years out of a habit. Of course I’ve embraced all the positive impacts too, increasingly so in the years I’ve been living in the developing countries. There’s no way back. For me being vegetarian is an easy habit which brings positive impact to the planet. I’m not perfect, I eat milk and egg products. I travel by plane and sometimes use the a/c at home. There are other sins too but no need to reveal everything?
Point is, being vegetarian is easy and it’s common. It’s also not the only way forward. Reducing meat consumption is a great first step. Considering own consumer behaviour and how the food has been produced, could follow. Nowadays vegetarian food is extremely tasty and the variety of options incredible. Try it yourself, if you don’t believe me. The only problem might be, that the queues for vegetarian food stalls are getting longer and longer.