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.
We are having to move house. It’s been hanging over us all year, but now it’s looking like we’ll be moving before Christmas. We’re going to a smaller house, so we’re having to get rid of stuff.
I like the idea of getting rid of stuff. We have too much stuff – a ridiculous amount of stuff. Why keep things you don’t use and don’t need – stuff that just clutters up your life and your soul?
So out go the clothes I no longer wear.
Out go the books I bought years ago and haven’t read. That includes that big Hebrew bible I’ve had on the shelf for 20 years. Nice dream, but I doubt I will ever actually learn Hebrew.
Out go the bass guitar and amp that I bought with money I was given for my 40th birthday. At the time I played in a band, but shortly after turning 41 we moved from London to the Sussex coast, since when I’ve played the bass on three occasions. Eight years on, I’m unlikely to play bass in a band again.
Today the auctioneer came to value some silver and other stuff we’ve had squirrelled away in the attic and boxes in cupboards. That includes an engraved cup and an egg-cup and spoon set that were given to me when I was christened as a baby. When I was a boy, I was allowed to use these on rare occasions and I used to leave out a drink in the cup on the kitchen windowsill next to the tooth I’d left for the tooth fairy – it’s thirsty work collecting children’s teeth, and a fairy deserves a special cup. I haven’t looked at them for decades. Also going is my boyhood coin collection, mostly old pennies that my Grandpa gave me; and the silver spoon I won in a crown competition at our street’s Silver Jubilee party in 1977. What’s the point of keeping things in cupboards and never looking at them?
You can’t take it with you.
I like the idea of getting rid of stuff. I’m not sure I’d realised the strength of the connection between the stuff and my precious dreams and memories. Can I still take those with me when that connection is severed? Or, perhaps, severing the connection will set the dreams free to live and take new turns …
We need to cut the amount we consume. (I feel a bit hypocritical writing this on my lovely shiny MacBook.) Here’s a link to a short animation about it: Carbonomissions.org.uk