Wednesday, June 2, 2010
The K Book Club
Well, it's been 20 days since I became a vegetarian, which means it was probably around 21 days ago that I started reading this book.
For years, I've been saying that I'd like to become vegetarian. I've had several failed attempts. The last, and most successful, time was over 12 years ago when I was dating a vegetarian. I lasted a couple of years, in fact, but then 6 months into dating my omnivorous next boyfriend (and now husband), I broke my vegetarianism on a plate of mouth-watering hot wings in Cancun. There's been very little looking back since.
But always, I've admired the vegetarians. My mom is a vegetarian, nearly vegan, except that she does take milk in her tea and eats cake baked with eggs on rare occasions. She is also overly conscientious about living things and you will often find us laughing at her trying to scuttle a fly or an ant out of her house rather than just swatting the thing. Vegetarians, at least the ones I know, seem more compassionate and self-sacrificing than average people. They seem to be on a higher plane of existence--instead of indulging their animal urge to eat something tasty, they choose to avoid doing something they feel is morally wrong.
Though I've admired the vegetarians, I've found it very difficult to get enough motivation to actually become one myself. Meat and seafood is just so delicious. My favorite foods of all time are lamb curry, lobster and sushi. How do you tell yourself that you're going to become a vegetarian and never eat your favorite foods again?
Well, the only way that could ever happen is if you were forced to actually THINK about where your food comes from. I think most of us avoid this entirely. We go to the supermarket, pick up our hermetically packaged chicken breast and don't really associate it with the ACTUAL living thing called a "chicken". It's almost like they're two different things: real chicken and store chicken.
I remember when I was around 11, I went to India with my family and stayed at my grandfather's house. Knowing that we liked to eat meat, they asked one of the farm boys to kill a chicken for our dinner. I still remember feeling so repulsed, as if it had been a murder. Of course, I didn't eat any meat in India, but strangely, I came back to the U. S. and slowly, with distance away from the actual chickens, I ate again. And now I think how it was so strange and short-sighted of me to forget something like that.
This book, however, has been a wake-up call. I've spent a very long time of my life just not thinking about exactly where my meat is coming from: how it is raised, fed, treated, slaughtered, processed, and packaged, before it ends up in my mouth. I care so much about so many things in my life, pay attention to so many details about things, but I didn't seem to give a crap about what I am putting into my body...it seems so crazy now!
This book answered all those questions and more. And, as you might suspect, the facts are downright SCARY. I would be surprised if there is a person who can read this book and NOT become a vegetarian.
Even if you are not a sensitive, animal-lover and the argument that animals are living creatures like ourselves with feelings doesn't appeal to you, there are countless other reasons why you should think about giving up meat that the author outlines in this book, such as the huge impact the meat industry has on environmental pollution, genetic alteration of the animals, the rate of disease in the animals, the amount of drugs and chemicals they are exposed to, and the disgusting environments they are living in and being processed in.
I don't think I'm ever going to look at meat the same way again after reading this book--at least I hope I don't!