One month ago, I stopped eating meat. My sister, a fellow animal lover, texted me that she was watching a documentary about the meat and dairy industry. I had been meaning to watch one I saw on Netflix, Forks Over Knives, but hadn't gotten around to it yet.
Forks Over Knives displays the perspective that eating animal proteins and dairy leads to heart disease and a plethora of other complications. It advocates eating a whole foods, plant-based diet to not just cut down on risk but to even counteract diseases already present.
It was a rabbit hole...I then watched Vegucated on Netflix, which has some graphic images from our slaughterhouses. Vegucated tells three peoples' stories as they attempt to live as Vegans for six weeks. They learn about the meat and dairy industry and ultimately, all three are still eating Vegan or close to Vegan diets today (the documentary came out in 2010).
Next came the book Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. The first chapter has a sort of exercise where you imagine sitting at a friend's dinner table, eating a delicious stew. When you ask how they made it, they tell you that you start by using 10 pounds of Golden Retriever! They laugh and say, just kidding, it's beef. The author then explains that most Americans are raised to believe that eating certain animals is quite alright but eating other animals is downright nasty. (This happens not just in America but since we're here, I'll focus on here.) Through marketing and PR campaigns of the meat and dairy industry, we are essentially told that "Happy Cows Make Better Milk" or cheese...but most of our country's meat industry is anything but happy for the animals. We treat them pretty terribly.
I think that I have learned before about how our meat and dairy industry treated animals but watching some of the graphic footage from slaughterhouses showed me the reality of most conditions. After reading Why We Love Dogs...I just couldn't look at meat without imagining Maggie and Nigel being mistreated. Like most dedicated dog owners, I would pretty much do anything to keep them from harm.
I consider myself an animal lover and a gentle person who cares for the rights of all beings but my eating habits were just not aligned with this statement. Once I realized how much pain and suffering I was causing to about 100-200 animals a year, I no longer wanted to eat meat and animal by-products. (Unfortunately, our egg and dairy farming practices are really no better and perhaps even worse than our meat-packing industry.) I always advocate for humane treatment of dogs and cats in America's shelters but why had I never cared about all those other animals?
So, I'm on a journey right now. Besides beginning training for a half marathon, training the pooches, and being in school, I'm also exploring a whole foods, plant based diet. I haven't given up all animal by-products because after 28 years of practicing eating whatever I wanted, it's pretty difficult to just totally change every eating habit overnight! But I do know that I am becoming more self-aware about how my diet affects the environment, my well-being, and the well-being of other creatures.
Have your dietary practices been affected by being a pet owner?
*If you made it this far, thanks for reading. I promise to bring back adorable pittie cuteness very soon. :-)