My daughter and I have been abstaining from the flesh of dead animals since Christmas. For me, it’s at least my third attempt to be vegetarian, but it feels more serious this time.
Here are my reasons:
– Eating meat or fish requires an act of violence to be carried out against a living being. That just seems wrong. I am increasingly convinced that hope for the world lies in the formation of a community of all creatures. The cow is my sister. I shouldn’t eat my sister, should I?
– Modern farming is too intensive and too many animals suffer as a result. Pigs shouldn’t be kept in sheds or behind bars. They should be in the woods, rooting around in the leaf mould.
– The amount of meat we eat in the west is unsustainable. It uses too much land, produces too much waste (not least methane), and is an extraordinarily inefficient way of converting plant protein into Mabbsonsea protein.
One problem with being vegetarian is that there’s very little choice when eating out, and so I eat far too much cheese. My objection to intensive farming applies very much to dairy farming, where sometimes cows are bred and made to produce so much milk in their first few years that they’re all milked out and go into cheap pies. The natural lifespan for the cow is somewhere in the region of 20 years. As I’m hypocalcaemic (thank you, thyroid cancer) I need to drink/eat dairy for the calcium, so I’m making an extra effort to buy organic, as that’s about the best welfare standard for the cows. But that still leaves the issues of land use, waste and emissions.
There are no cost-free easy answers to all this. There’s a price to be paid for me to be alive. An upside of a vegetarian diet is that it is making me think much more carefully about food, and I hope that becoming more caring and thoughtful might bring my price down.