It began when I was about 8 years old. Out of the blue, I approached my parents and declared that I was going to forgo meat and meat products, fish included. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events that transpired, but I remember the reason.
I was a fan of a number of movies and TV shows (read Finding Nemo, Oswald etc.) wherein animals were portrayed as having feelings, and it hurt me that I was actually chewing up those innocent creatures. I often tried to emulate these characters as well, and then there was Narnia and Harry Potter, which served to further cement my beliefs.
Of course when I proclaimed my decision to friends and family, many tried to dissuade me. But in my eyes, I was a hero and children have the gift of being awfully stubborn.
And so it happened that I kept to my decision and kept to it faithfully, because it’s been so long since I tasted those delicacies that I’ve forgotten the taste. Quoting Pi, you can get used to anything.
Recently, I decided to give up egg, but my mother staunchly protested against this move, reasoning that I would never get enough protein if I gave it up. We came to an understanding later on – I would eat egg prepared at home, but I would give up cakes and other desserts that had eggs in them.
This was part of a decision to avoid eating fast food in general, as I’d been hearing reports that some outlets used animal products in vegetarian dishes to improve taste. Giving these up will be harder, but I’ve already shown enough restraint, so it should go well. It would also go well with my general health.
Most of my friends know of all this.
Cow protection laws were introduced in my country a few months back, and a friend was quick to ask me whether I was pleased.
Now this required thought.
I wasn’t concerned only about cows. I was concerned about every animal that we share this planet with, and that was why I chose vegetarianism. But I’ve done next to nothing to actually protect these animals – I just decided that I won’t have their blood on my hands ( more accurately, their meat in my stomach ).
There was a time when I thought people could be forced to do things. But I realize that’s a bad way to make them do things. If something is enforced and we find it wrong, we’ll find a way around it. That’s human nature.
Besides, there are people who genuinely believe that consumption of meat doesn’t do much harm to animals. What were our ancestors doing anyway, back in the days when we had to hunt to survive? Many people do need meat, for nutrition reasons. And some of those people have been the most compassionate individuals I’ve ever met.
There’s this fact we have to understand, and understand very well. What is wrong for us, isn’t wrong for another. And as long as it doesn’t severely affect another person’s well-being, an individual should be allowed to make his or her own choices.
My own decision came into being because I had the freedom of choice.
And that’s why I answered no.