By OLIVIA BRIDGES
I was born into a family of meat eaters and as a vegetarian of three years I have heard a whole array of insults directed at my lifestyle. It is also common for my family to taunt me when Bambi joins our holiday meals. Even though there are people who applaud my lifestyle, there are others who, like my family, do not understand the purpose behind it.
Since attending the University of Mary Washington, I have had more negative encounters than what I would have expected. People frequently label vegetarianism as pointless. They say, “You’re not saving any animals,” which I know is true. I am not saving any animals, but I am certainly not supporting the ruthless slaughter of them either.
We live in a society where eating living creatures in not necessary. There are other sources of protein such as beans, Greek yogurt, nuts – the list goes on. I am allergic to nuts, but even so, I still manage to be a vegetarian.
Last year, I wrote a paper about how animals are treated in slaughter houses. I could barely get through it without crying. The way the animals – living creatures, were being treated was unthinkable. I am glad that I have nothing to do with that process.
The animals I discussed in my paper were treated horribly. They were trapped inside for the whole duration of their lives and would only get to see sunlight the day they were going to be killed and turned into a hamburger, hot dog or whatever. They deserve better than for their funeral to be held in someone’s stomach.
To me, meat is not just meat. It is flesh and muscles. We human beings have skin and muscles and I cannot eat meat without feeling like I am eating a person. There is only a small genetic difference between humans and animals, making it feel like border-line cannibalism.
I am not trying to convince anyone to be a vegetarian. It is a huge lifestyle change, but if people are going to eat animals, they should be, at the very least, organic and free range. Animals deserve to live happy lives and see sunlight on the day they are born, not the day they die. They are no different than us. Animals have thoughts, feelings and a sense of family; however, because they cannot communicate with us, they are turned into a meal deal.
There are parts of the world where people eat cats and dogs on a regular basis. Yet, we keep them as pets. How is eating a cow or pig any different than eating a cat or dog? It is not. Cats and dogs are no different than cows and pigs – they are just smaller. In fact, pigs are gaining popularity as household pets more, but people still eat them.
To me, if it has a heartbeat, it should not be food. That why I am a vegetarian. I realize I am not making a direct difference, but I see the cute, little innocent faces behind the meat and I stand by my decision. Animals deserve better and I just wish there was something more that I could do.