I have always LOVED animals, but was not driven by animal welfare to become a vegetarian. I believe I was destined to be a vegetarian, but didn’t really consider it seriously because my WHOLE family ate meat… at every meal. My Opa (Grandpa) was a butcher and my parents used to work in his shop. Eating meat in my family was the normal thing to do. My opa used to joke every Easter that we were eating the Easter Bunny (Europeans have a dark sense of humor and no harm was meant at all!).
I remember watching a BBC documentary with my parents about the cleanliness (or lack of) in farms and factory’s across the nation. This video disgusted me so much that I said at that moment that I was NEVER going to eat meat again! For the most part I have stuck with this, other than the occasional accidental meat (bacon in Caesar salad, pizza pockets with meat). Silly mistakes I made when I was a teenager because I didn’t pay enough attention to the food I put in my mouth.
I was a pescatarian until I was 19. I was one of the people who thought fish are just fish, they dont feel pain so it doesn’t matter if I eat them. At university I was cooking dinner and read the box my fish came in, which said that the fish was caught by the ‘Trawling‘ method. Being the (now) conscious consumer I researched this and again was disgusted. Since then I have eaten fish once that was ‘line and pole’ caught while on holiday, I couldn’t finish it and felt terrible.
I am happy to say that I have been a vegetarian for 14 years now. People think its crazy that I have ‘lived so long without meat’, I on the other hand can’t ever imagine eating meat again. My once practical concerns have turned into ethical decisions and have been for years. After the initial decision I was more interested in the vegetarian life. I talked to other vegetarians and did my own research. I now appreciate that animals are sentient beings – able to feel things like excitement, sadness and fear. These beliefs have always been deep within me, they just took a few years to come out. I remember going to a popular Marine amusement park in Toronto when I was very young and crying when I saw the whale through the big glass thinking about how he should be in nature with his family not cramped in there. While my family thought that this was just going to ‘be a phase’ when my diet changed, they embrace plant based meals now and are more open minded about ‘how anyone could possibly live WITHOUT meat’, even with the occasional teasing and ‘your Opa would be rolling in his grave’ joke, I know my family is supportive of my decision.
Side note… 1 cousin and 2 friends have become vegetarian in the past 8 years. My husband, dad and step mum often eat meals without meat out of choice. While I try to never push my ideals on people, I do talk about vegetarianism (from health and ethical perspectives) and these plant based life style changes of people in my circle make me very happy!