Since leaving the UK, James and I have met so many people from around the world, each with their own ideas, knowledge and morals and there is no ‘typical traveller’ as some would have you believe but most do carry a couple of similar traits and that’s the ability to be open and honest and a willingness to learn from each other.
One lifestyle choice we have found to crop up regularly though is vegetarian and vegan diets. Despite the fact that my sister was vegetarian for a few years while growing up, I’ve never really considered myself to have been exposed to the influences and ideas of being a vegetarian and in particular the reasons people choose to practice it, in most cases I was adamant the only reason for vegetarianism was a dislike in the taste of meat and the question of ethics, global warming and demand never entered my mind. We were certainly never taught about it in school or given the information that might have led us to make a decision earlier in life so I’m certain it’s down to my naivety and lack of knowledge in regards to meat production.
My Granddad was a farmer so I was brought up playing on my toy tractor and visiting the cows whenever I could just so I could feel how rough their tongues were on my hand. I loved being on the farm and to me it was my families livelihood so it was the norm, there was certainly never any fowl play or cruelty to animals like many of the viral videos popping up on social media would have you believe. Again, my lack of knowledge jumps out at me. Of course there are farms where a great deal of pride and care for livestock is taken, but these farms couldn’t possibly be providing the amount of meat that sits on supermarket shelves and I have only recently, at 26 years of age, began to consider how the industry meets demand.
In 2011 the total world population hit 7 billion. That’s an extra billion within 12 years and we’re expected to reach 8 billion by 2024. I’ve listened to a lot of people who have shared the reasons for their choices and found out some of the costs and environmental implications involved with farming meat and they really surprised me. The industry is responsible for 18% of the worlds global greenhouse gas emissions, but that’s not even what hit home the most. I’m not usually one for obvious propaganda and emotionally evoking marketing campaigns, however, when I accidentally watched a video titled ‘This Is The First Day Of A Chicken’s Life In The Meat Industry’ I cried. Not because I didn’t realise that the chicken I enjoy regularly was once cute and fluffy, but because of the conditions and unnecessary procedures in place during ‘production,’ including the cruel disposal of live chicks who didn’t quite meet the grade while being shoved along a conveyor belt as if it were some inanimate piece of plastic destined to be part of the latest kids toy. Again, my own fault for being so naive or maybe it has just been refusing to let myself consider the truth, instead blocking it from my mind.
Now, I’ll admit…I didn’t immediately run to the fridge and throw out all signs of animal in there [I’m not even sure there was any since we hadn’t done a shop for a few days!] and I have eaten meat since the horrifying video intruded my brain, but this month, November, is World Vegan month and after careful consideration I’d like to give it a try. Except I won’t be going Vegan as it’s a sure path to failure because I know I won’t put in enough effort to find alternative recipes and ingredients etc. and will probably end up starved and 1 stone lighter…maybe not sure a bad thing then hey! Instead, I will go pescatarian meaning I will still eat fish and dairy products. Baby steps.
I will keep you updated with how I’m getting on, what food delights I discover and how James reacts – haven’t told him yet – but fingers crossed I last more than a few days at least 🙂
Goodbye kangaroo burgers and chicken parmigiana, I’ll miss you.