It’s World Meat Free Day today.
I don’t actually spend a lot of time thinking about meat. I think about hummus and lentils and red cabbage a lot. I think about leeks, pickled turnips, fresh pasta and homemade tomato sauces a lot, but meat, not so much.
Today would have passed me right on by if Tsouni hadn’t emailed me just before lunch to ask me if I wanted to give a quote for her great ASOS piece on why 11 people went vegan or vegetarian.
You can read it here.
I’ve decided to post my full quote here, because as I got to writing it, I realised I really rarely delve into this side of veganism on Guac. This site has always been a place for food and the good stuff: the dinners with friends, picnics and vegan hot dogs in pub gardens. But as I got to actually unpacking why I am glad I gave up meat, my answer starting running into the multi-paragraphs. It's Guac's subtext, but I think it sometimes it also needs saying. So I worked on it for a while, and tried to give the most concise statement I could. And that’s this:
I'm meat free because I'm lucky enough to live in a time and culture where I can sustain myself without eating other animals. I recognise that's a privilege not all the world has access to. A vegan or vegetarian lifestyle will never be totally cruelty-free, but it's a start.
In the UK alone, we slaughter around 22 million animals a day*. Every time I hear someone say they "need meat" for a "proper meal", I wonder if they really understand how modern our idea of industrial farming is. How unnatural it is to farm chickens that grow so quickly they can't stand up because their legs can't ever hold their weight. The fetishism behind bacon and pork when we know pigs are as, if not more, intelligent that dogs, dolphins and elephants, and that they have similar cognitive abilities as toddlers. We're raising animals our ancestors wouldn't have recognised. We're at the top of a food chain beneath creatures packed full of antibiotics, suffering extreme pain throughout the few months we enable them to live, to provide more meat and protein than we could ever require.*
Our bodies are incredibly complex things, ones with heads we spend our whole lives filling with ideas and knowledge and inspiration. Why would I want to power it on death and murder, cruelty and torture?
"This equates to around 22 million animals slaughtered every day; 919,000 an hour; 15,000 per minute and 255 every second."
"But most people find it very easy to eat a lot more. Men and women in the UK eat about 45-55% more protein than they need each day, according to the National Diet and Nutrition Survey."
It’s not how I usually sound on here, I know. But as someone who is terrible at real time come backs, hates confrontation and is never going to approach veganism with a list of statistics to hand, sometimes it’s good to go back to the facts and remind yourself why you’re still here.
If you’re thinking of going vegan or vegetarian, please, try. I don’t believe in telling people what they ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do- your life is your own experience- I can’t judge that. But I can ask anyone that’s open to the idea to give it a go. Try in the opposite way to all of those ‘I went vegan for five days’ articles. Try it without the preconceived notion that it’s going to involve a lot of sacrifices. Put what your family, friends and significant others might say to the side for a few minutes and truly think about what you want the next years of your life to be powered on.