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Meatless-ly happy

2 months. Or 63 days to be exact. No meat. 

It started as a ’30-day trial’ as I was not even sure if I could stay on a vegetarian diet for long. Surprisingly, a lot of ‘inconveniences’ were self-conjured. Over the past weeks, I discovered that there were actually many vegetarian dining options out there – and many many other possibilities of how one could prepare a hearty meal without harming any animals. Most importantly, plants can taste good, if not better!

I am confident enough to say that I am pledging to be a vegetarian for life. I don’t want that awful sensation of putting animals into my mouth anymore. I don’t want to burp dead animals. I want to put a stop to violent animal farming practices. 

That said, I hope you don’t see me as some arrogant self-righteous animal rights crackpot. I am still your normal friend and I don’t mind you eating animals in front of me. My dearest Dad still enjoys his pig trotters and assam fish head while I quietly savour my lifeless vegetables at the dinner table. Our conversations are normal and family bonds remain as strong as before. Nobody at home could really find any reason to complain about me eating plants in front of them, so there. 

Nothing has changed really, I am still me, except for a slight stirring from within – that I am meatless-ly happy. 🙂

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Q&A on why I decided to go meatless

3 weeks have past ever since I embarked on being a vegan. While to most people it sounded quite drastic, for me it was a smooth transition so far. Over the past weeks friends and family have been very supportive, and I was asked many questions about this conversion. So I am listing their questions and my responses – if you are interested. 🙂

Q: This is so sudden. What happened?

A: It has been gradual actually. I was surrounded by many vegetarians (I am a Buddhist) and for the longest time I have been delaying the conversion. In fact it is NOT a requirement for Buddhists to be vegetarians – Buddha never said so – but in the practice of Bodhicitta (loving-kindness), many Buddhists resolve to go meatless because one of the vows we take is to refrain from taking another life. While eating meat doesn’t mean we are committing murder, the fact that I demand it still makes me complicit in the food chain. I aspire to minimize my predator pawprint so to speak. So I was still eating meat but I slowly cutoff meat and tried the pescetarian (seafood) diet. I became flexitarian – swinging around seafood and meat aimlessly, vegetarian on certain days etc.

Moreover, I am an animal lover. I have dogs, guinea pigs, gerbils and fish as pets. I interact with them daily and i don’t need to find scientific evidence to prove that they have consciousness. One of my dogs even undergone depression when my grandma passed away. I asked myself why I can eat pigs, cows, chickens and not feel awful about it, yet when I read about some cultures eating dog meat I became so enraged? Upon deep reflection, I realised I have been avoiding thinking about meat eating, and I have no right to judge dog or cat eaters.

So during Vesak Day, I told myself no more vacillating. Just do it.

Q: Then why vegan? Why so extreme?
A: Veganism involves abstaining from all animal products such as dairy and eggs. I have stopped drinking cow’s milk for a few years already. It started when I was doing yoga and my instructor told me that milk is very bad for adults because it produces a lot of mucous in the body. I thought it was bullshit. I love my milk! But I went home, researched on dairy, and decided that there are truths to it. I also visited a dairy farm and I could see cows crying. To most people, their eyes are naturally wet. To me it was tears. And I vividly remembered visiting a chicken battery farm when I was in Primary School. The chickens were stacked up high like HDB and they couldn’t move. I saw one of their legs trapped between the wires, and asked the guide whether he can help to pull the leg out of the wires, he told me “it’s ok, they don’t need to walk anyway”. His reply hit me hard. I went home and cried.

I said I will try veganism for a month and thus far I am still holding up well. I don’t sense any difficulty or changes to my body. But I think I might probably eat diary and egg products (such as ice-cream, pancakes etc) once a while after this 30-day challenge. But right now I am resolved to be vegetarian for life. Maybe I will eat eggs again, but in moderation.

Q: Don’t you feel weird or strange? Like weak?

A: Except that I think I cannot lift heavy weights as before, but I have been reading up on vegetarian bodybuilding so I think that can be managed. Otherwise, I don’t feel strange. In fact I would advice you to read “Eating Animals” and watch the film “Earthlings”. Both the book and film made me feel weird eating meat.

Q: How about your social life?

A: Please, vegetarians do go out, dance and have fun! And most restaurants have vegetarian options nowadays, it’s not an issue at all. I am not a monk! Lol.

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