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Little pieces of the grand narrative of my life: Or, how I became a vegetarian

on August 28, 2011

I noticed recently that there was a notable increase in the numbers of people asking me about my vegetarian lifestyle. After 16 years of commitment to not taking the life of other sentient creatures in order to eat their flesh, I have certainly had to learn an apologetic, develop some sort of catechismal response to those who wonder about my dietary choices.

In addition, I recently finished an almost 18,000-word dissertation incorporating the topic of vegetarianism and environment as the final part of my studies for university. This certainly reminded me of all the reasons I chose vegetarianism as my lifestyle of choice back in 1995 in my mid-teens.

There are different variants of vegetarianism. The most accurate label to describe my habits are lacto-ovo vegetarian, though in concept I believe that veganism is the ideal. In practice, I avoid dairy and eggs whenever possible, and our home-cooked meals are nearly always vegan.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians may consume dairy products and eggs, but do not consume animal flesh: whether fish, poultry, mammalian, or other creature. Veganism rejects all animal products.

My personal reasons for vegetarianism are ethical and environmental. Other reasons that people might choose a vegetarian diet may include religious beliefs, physical health concerns, and even for political purposes.

However, rather than risk writing yet another 18,000 words on the issue (especially as that process took me a whole year of research), I will try to state my main reasons here.

ETHICS (and a hefty dose of compassion) – I grew up in a rural area and, as a result, spent time helping out on my grandparents’ farm. I loved spending time with the animals. One day, as I ate sausages, I asked myself a question: “Why is there a huge difference between the way I treat horses and cattle? The cows don’t seem that different to the horses, yet I wouldn’t dare kill a horse to eat it.” The question extended to other creatures, too. “Why eat pigs, and not dogs?” I know that some cultures do eat horses, or dogs, so I understand that these questions wouldn’t work for them. But as a teenager in rural Australia, this was the start off my vegetarian journey.

ENVIRONMENT – after studying the impact of animal based agriculture on the environment, and the related issue of food supply in a heavily populated world, it further cemented my commitment to my vegetarianism. In a world where some people starve to death, while grain foods are fed to cattle to be slaughtered for the wealthy’s appetites, I felt that I can do my tiny little part to reduce my impact on the environment by avoiding animal products. This also incorporates an element of developing my awareness of the origin and processes involved in the making of the plant-based foods that I consume.

This is the short answer to the question, “Why are you a vegetarian?” There are many more factors than this that I have taken into account, particularly ecofeminist arguments and physical health concerns. I have listed some links to vegan and vegetarian websites on my links page, so if you’re interested in finding out more about check them out!

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2 responses to “Little pieces of the grand narrative of my life: Or, how I became a vegetarian

  1. annelouisep says:

    Very interesting and thought provoking! Especially the part about people starving to death while grain is fed to cattle destined for human consumption. 😦
    I will check out those vegan and veggie sites too.

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