I gave up meat on January 5th 2015, and it was the easiest thing I ever did. HERE I WILL INTERJECT AND CONFESS BEFORE MY HOUSEMATES RAT ME OUT: I did finish a bottle of Lea & Perrins after discovering about two months down the line that it contains anchovies… (what kind of idiot sauce contains fish???) and I figured since I’d already bought it, I might as well finish the job…
Besides the hidden sneaky fish juice, which taught me to always check labels (baby steps), I don’t see myself ever eat meat again. I don’t need to, and neither do I want to. If Jaime on Bear Grylls: The Island can live on a desert island for six weeks without touching meat, so can I. My survival doesn’t depend on the death of other sentient beings. And I’d argue that animals are 100x more sentient than whatever the modern human has been reduced to.
My epiphany came in a number of forms. Firstly, meat is expensive, if you want the good stuff. I would always have leaned towards the free range/organic/butcher’s produce anyway, and student budgets don’t tend to support that. So I drastically reduced my meat consumption when I went to uni. It also cuts out the amount of times I’ve drunkenly eaten raw-in-the-middle chicken kievs after nights out, and that one time I realised I was eating a raw chicken burger but it was so nice I took my chances. Vegetarianism is therefore a wise choice in curtailing my risk of contracting salmonella.
The second may be the eight or nine years I was vegetarian anyway growing up, which was a handy reassurance that I would manage it fine. My mother tells me I had to be dragged from Safeway kicking and screaming after clocking a raw chicken on the shelves as a very little kid and enquiring as to what the hell it was. She informed me it was a chicken; I distraughtly asked where its head and feathers were, and chaos ensued. I also started so much of a scene in the lunch hall when I first started school and was served a slab of meat that the dinner ladies begged Mum to put me on the veggie menu because I was putting the other kids off their overcooked cow. An anarchist protester since c.1998.
Somewhere along the line I lost my strident sense of morality, cultivating a love of BLTs, chicken nuggets, turkey twizzlers, meatball subs, scotch eggs, Texas BBQ Dominos, Wetherspoons Mexican burgers, SAUSAGES… until the day the love of my life had a literal head-on brush with death. Lulu is my fluffy squirrel-cat, my own living dolly, the CATalyst of my meat-free life and, even at 7-years-old, always my baby kitten. She was born when I was 13 after our rescue cat got pregnant and my mum decided she could not part with any of her four resultant babies. Lulu is my sassy beautiful feline soulmate; we have identical strops and are equally bitch-faced and unapproachable. Whatever souls are made of, hers and mine are the same.
So when my brother rang me while I was in the library last winter to tell me that she’d been run over (the circumstances of her horrific injuries are somewhat dodgy, and to say she was accidentally hit at night is the only eventuality we’d like to contemplate), I packed up my things and ran home crying, caring less about the people I disturbed on the street. The idea that the mini jet-black puff-ball I’d adored since the day she was born could die, or likely lose a leg if she lived, was pretty direly disgustingly bleak. What eventually happened, though, was my mum shelling out a lot of money for a top veterinary surgeon in Winchester to save her – when I say a lot, I mean A LOT. Like, her savings towards a deposit for a house are now a year behind. A l o t. (Sidenote: if you’re not willing to do the same for your pet, you shouldn’t have one). Lulubear lives to see another day, after a long, arduous recovery.
During this recovery, I witnessed something. I’d always regarded my total of six cats as family members anyway, but this incident uncannily reminded me that Lulu is mortally, vulnerably alive in the exact same way I am. Here was a cat. A cat that had always been fiercely independent, that depended on us for nothing really; she didn’t need us to survive. She came back for easy food and shelter and safety and for territorial reasons, probably, which is just a fact that you accept when you have cats. There isn’t much bringing them back to you. The fact that they choose to stay is nice enough. But, in the first weeks that I was with her during her house arrest to repair her shattered leg, held together by rods and plaster, she cried and cried in her cage at night. She relished the couple of hours a day she got to spend outside the cage, sitting quietly and contently on our laps until it was cage time again, making no attempt at escape because she was in too much pain and needed the comfort. In that short time, she’d hug so close to my mum (moreover her mum now), wrapping her healthy front leg around mum’s neck, something she’d never do when well, or reaching it out to me sat next to her. Maybe this was for some reassurance when she was scared, or begging for sympathy hugs, or to show gratitude. Because at times I know she was thanking us.
And aren’t all those actions and eventualities just what a child would do? We like to conveniently forget that animals have thoughts and feelings as well, all the more than we do, I’d argue as fact. And seeing my kitten beg for her life was never anything I was going to have on my hands to put a lamb or a pig or a cow through again. Why would you think they don’t react the same way that you would when they realise they’re going to die? The ‘humane’ death thing doesn’t work… There is no right way to kill something that doesn’t want to die. (=If you were so bothered about Halal you wouldn’t eat meat at all, shut the fuck up). Why would I watch my mother spend pretty much her life savings on rescuing my cat from certain death while spending my own money conveniently condemning others to the same fate for no other reason than “it tastes nice”…………………………No more.
ox Namaste, peace, dharma, zen & love xo