You are a vegetarian. There are so many reasons for this. Every time you eat meat, you feel bad about it. The chickens are debeaked. They are trapped in tiny, dark rooms with no room to move. Then they die. That is their life so that we can eat them. The cows are so sweet to look at. Huge, docile animals with doe eyes and long, dark lashes. They remind you of Cookie, your pet dog. Pigs are so smart. Smarter than our own pets, yet they are chained down in small pens, never walking or seeing the light of day. They are trapped and held down to make more pigs and then they too, die so we can eat them. This is not right, and you know it.
Hot dogs don’t taste that good anyway. Neither do burgers. Or steaks. Not so good that you are OK with animals being abused this way. You have seen the images and read the reports of puppy mills; the disgusting dog breeding farms that breed and breed and bread the same dogs over and over and over, never showing them human love or compassion, never allowing them to play or run, trapping them in tiny cells to breed more dogs to sell to ignorant consumers. You pass the dogs and cats at pet stores, knowing that some or all of them likely came from those puppy mills and your stomach turns at the thought. You refuse to support places where dogs and cats are abused in this way. You are a vegetarian because you know that there is no difference between someone who abuses a dog or cat and someone who abuses a pig or cow. You know that if you support the people that sell you meat produced through the abuse of farm animals, it is no different than supporting those who sell dogs bred at puppy mills.
You are a vegetarian because you know the perilous situation the climate is in. You know that we are pretty much beyond saving when it comes to the irreversible damage we have done to this planet. “Pretty much” you add, because the prospect of not being able to remedy the situation we’re in is just too dire, too depressing, too debilitating. So you say “pretty much” just to get by; just to remind yourself that there still may be something you can do. You start by not eating meat. You do this because you know that our meat consumption contributes heavily to our global CO2 emissions. You do this because producing animal protein requires eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than plant protein, and after all that, doesn’t yield much more nutrition. You do this because you know meat production generates toxic waste in unimaginable quantities. You are a vegetarian because you love the oceans and the brilliant creatures that live in it, you love the animals that soar through the sky and the fantastic carnivores and herbivores of the forests, deserts, and plains. You are a vegetarian because you do not want to see the diversity of life and the beauty and bounty of nature destroyed by the greedy and insatiable creature that is human-kind.
You are a vegetarian and it is time to state that clearly and with vigor.
This is a letter I wrote to myself. I have been on the fence for too long – cheating here and there and justifying it weakly. I’m stating it out loud, binding myself to this new lifestyle. David Sirota has an even better take on it here if you want to read on.