Up until a few weeks ago I pulled out the “I’m 90% vegetarian card” whenever my salivation for a cremated animal outweighed my plight for a more conscious life.
But on the 15th January 2019, that all changed forever.
DOG WHISPERING DENIAL
I’m a self-professed Dr. Doolittle with a serious talent for Dog Whispering, and for most of my life, I’ve outwardly admitted that I love animals more than I love humans.
My first ever spoken word wasn’t Mama and it wasn’t Dada, it was Emma, and Emma was the name of our pet dog. Instead of idolising Barbie, Kimberly from the Power Rangers or Blossom like all the other girls, my childhood Hero was a forty year old Italian woman called Anita Roddick.
My first ever membership to any form of club was to the WWF – the World Wildlife Fund not wrestling. And when I grew up I wanted to be Michaela Strachan from The Really Wild Show, roaming around African deserts saving elephants.
I loved animals.
I really loved animals.
But while I was and still am forever obsessed over all creatures great and small, I’ve also been somewhat of a big fat hypocrite.
Growing up on a typical 80’s kid diet, I’d happily chow down on turkey dinosaurs, chicken nuggets, hot dogs and a whole host of other mushed up meats.
A thin, round slab of char-grilled deliciousness from McDonalds that came in a cute foldable cardboard box covered in bright coloured cartoons and contained an exciting little make-it-yourself toy distracted me from the fact that I was, in fact, chomping on a baby cow.
Then, as I got older, my diet became a little more sophisticated and I quite literally upped my game, taking a fond liking to things like pheasant and wood pigeon as well as the classics like beef bourguignon, chicken chasseur and a good slab of steak.
I’d managed to put up some sort of psychological wall separating my love for animals and my love for eating them.
I made excuses for every bite.
Early last year, when the lightning bolt of consciousness struck and I started to become a little bit more mindful in everything I do, I became more and more aware of my supermarket selections.
What did organic really mean? What actually is biodynamic wine? Is fair trade coffee really fair? What am I buying and where in the world does it come from?
As I wandered down the meat isle, I no longer saw tasty burgers waiting for the grill or drool-worthy chunks of seabass just waiting to be steamed, drizzled in fresh lemon juice and topped off with a fresh sprinkling of parsley.
I just saw dead body parts.
I saw hundreds of them piled up on top of each other and each pink, raw lump of flesh was cased in cellophane for everybody to see.
There were veins and arteries and layers of skin – I could even see the hair follicles if I looked close enough. Legs and thighs and livers, some diced, some ground, some whole and most of them oozing out blood.
When you take down your walls of ignorance and look at it for what it actually is, you can’t help but wonder how did this ever become our normality?
It was right at that moment in aisle 7, somewhere between the meatballs and the lambchops that 90% vegetarian became just who I was.
It wasn’t a wholly deliberate choice or a conscious decision, it just seemed to happen. I swapped talapia for tofu but gave myself a 10% buffer for failure; failures that came in only two forms – accidental or alcohol-induced.
There were times when I’d unintentionally one-bomb a sausage roll then gasp at what I’d done, and other times when a glass of Rioja convinced me to listen to the little devil on my shoulder saying “oh go on, just this once”.
I justified it with a reasonable doubt that vegans could have it all wrong, after all, looking back on our evolutionary past as Hunter-Gatherers we have always scavenged for meat.
But following the advice of Les Brown, my mission for 2019 it to be committed to my commitments – and that means there is no longer any room for 10% failure or doubt.
So with a a view to put away my excuses and to gain a deep understanding of nutrition, I’m turning my negative habits in healthy obsessions.
In the space of a week I’ve switched to a 100% “vegan” diet, become engrossed in a book called The Omnivore’s Dilemma and watched four documentaries with one of my fellow VeganWannabes.
We watched Cowspiracy, What the Health and Forks Over Knives. Cowspiracy talks about political corruption and environmental damage, What The Health talks about the dishonesty of our health industry and Forks Over Knives talks about diseases caused by eating animal-based and processed foods.
All of these are powerful documentaries that make you think twice about picking up a burger, but the real game-changer for me was Dominion.
It’s one of those documentaries that within the first few minutes you will want to turn it off. Guaranteed. It’s blood shed, it’s violence and it’s sickening scenes of human power-crazed torture over poor, imprisoned and defenceless animals, squealing for survival.
It made me cry.
I’ve never wanted any of my writing here to be considered a How To Guide or a preachy recommendation telling people what to do or how to live, but today I’m making a valid exception.
Don’t press pause, don’t switch off and don’t make excuses. The simple act of eating will never be the same again.