This week marks seven years since I made the decision to become a vegetarian.
I was merely 14-years-old, barely even a teenager, but I still remember the day very clearly as if it was yesterday.
I had been thinking about it for quite a few months, and along the way, I had started to remove meat items from my diet. As I got closer to fully committing to my decision, there were only a few meat items that I still used to consume.
From a young age, it never sat right with me to consume a living being. I always found it weird and unnatural and eventually knew I wouldn’t like to be part of it anymore.
I have vivid memories of when I was around eight years old, and my mum used to cook steak every now and then. I used to wait until they left the table to go watch television, and then I would proceed to wrap up the pieces of meat in tissues and throw them away.
I couldn’t stand it.
In the year before I fully adopted the diet, I was only eating chicken breast, salami, and sausages. Those were the items that I was struggling most to let go of.
At around the same time, my family had unexpectantly adopted a stray dog and gave her another chance of life when she had none. As time passed, I started to become more and more obsessed with this dog, and the love I had for her just kept on growing.
A few months later I had found out about the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, a 10-day event held yearly in China where around 10,000 dogs are killed and consumed. I was furious, and I couldn’t understand how they could possibly view dogs as meat when I was experiencing such a powerful bond with mine.
Something didn’t sit right with me at all, and it led to a lot of thinking.
Soon enough, my mind started to view all animals as the same. I remember saying, if I have this much love for an animal, then how can I even consume other living beings?
On 15th December 2014, I woke up and decided that it was time.
I don’t even recall whether I was just trying it out or making a permanent decision, but it’s always been a prominent part of my nature – once I commit to something, nothing is going to keep me back from succeeding.
The Yulin festival definitely played a massive part in the process, as it led me to the realisation that all living beings such be treated in a humane way, and not just for our own personal gain or convenience.
I went vegetarian and the rest is history. I’m now 21 and still benefiting from a decision that was taken by 14-year-old me.
As I grew older, I started doing more and more of my own research. While I became a vegetarian for ethical reasons, I soon found out about the various environmental reasons that surround the matter as well.
Soon enough, clear links between the meat industry and global warming started to be established, and more evidence started to surface of the harm it has on the world.
The meat industry has been identified as a major contributor to greenhouse emissions, and according to studies done by a climate scientist, it was found that meat is responsible for 60% of all greenhouse gases from food production and that greenhouses gases from animal-based foods are twice those of plant-based foods.
Apart from that, the fact that the majority of land clearing that we see occurring is for space to be made for crops, is just another big reason.
So for those people that continuously ask me if I miss meat: if anything, reasons for me to avoid it have only increased as the years went by.
And I will forever be grateful for the decision taken by 14-year-old me.
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