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Why I don’t eat things with brains

May 1, 2012

5:55pm – Friday, April 27th, 2012

I have been in Toronto for the past week and am currently on the Via Rail Train en route to Montreal. I spent the first hour or so writing a letter, and then decided that it was time for a movie.

I had a choice between the documentary “Food Inc.” or “Magnolia”. My initial decision was to watch Food Inc. After all, I have been wanting to watch it for some time now and the train is usually where I do all of my documentary watching. But, at the same time, I was afraid that the subject matter of Food Inc. might be too heavy. So that was that, I decided that Magnolia would be better.

But just as I pulled out my Vegetarian Vietnamese “Banh Mi” (meaning “sandwich”), I made the split second decision to watch Food Inc. instead. Boy, am I glad I did that! What a fantastic documentary. I mean it. It should be required of the high school curriculum to show this documentary; it will literally change the way you view your food. It will definitely make you more conscious about what you are purchasing at the supermarkets, and what you are putting into your mouth.

I have been a vegetarian since January 10th, 2012. This May 10th will be four months. For those who know me, you will know that I try to be the most morally person as possible. By this, I mean that I consciously abstain from doing things that I think that are not “morally appropriate”. Let me elaborate. I always try to be the nicest that I can, even to people who do not deserve it. I feel extremely bad when the cashier at Walmart undercharges me or when the waiter forgets to charge me for the extra bowl of rice I ordered. In other words, if I know that something’s not right, then I have to speak up; on the rare occasions that I don’t speak up, I spend about half of the night regretting it. Anyway, so you can imagine me to be the sort of person who would naturally be a vegetarian because I would feel bad about eating animals.

Yes, that is one of the reasons why I became a vegetarian. Even though I am not actively “saving the animals”, I feel better knowing that I am not “participating”. It all started last semester when I wrote a paper on Peter Singer’s paper, “All Animals are Equal”. That paper was the first to push me towards vegetarianism. To give you a brief summary of Singer’s arguments, I have provided below an excerpt from my paper.

 Singer argues that animals have claims to equality because they are capable of pain and pleasure. In other words, they should be given equal consideration as the rest of the animal kingdom (humans included) because they can feel pain and pleasure. To support this claim, he offers convincing evidence. First, Singer shows that discrimination against any group is wrong. This is evident in the cases of racism and sexism. Racism and sexism are wrong because members favour other members within a group, while discriminating against members of other groups. Similarly, favouring one’s own species over another species is an act of discrimination called “speciesism”. If we as human beings recognize that racism and sexism are wrong, why then, can we not recognize that specisism is wrong? Humans recognize that racism is wrong, for example, because it violates people’s rights to equality. As Singer notes, “[e]quality is a moral idea, not an assertion of fact. There is no logically compelling reason for assuming that a factual difference in ability between two people justifies any difference in the amount of consideration we give to their needs and interests” (Singer 399). In the same way, Singer argues that though there are differences between humans and animals, it does not justify the fact that we should not give them equal consideration. If a being suffers, we are required to take that suffering into consideration (Singer 401).

But still, this reason was not a big enough reason to push me completely into vegetarianism. Trust me, I loved meat. I really loved meat. My roommate told me that she used to be so embarrassed of buying food for me in the cafeteria of our University Residence. Why? Because in my pasta, I wanted all kinds of meat (except for Pork. I cut that out after reading “God is not Great” by the late Christopher Hitchens). You name it! In my pasta, I wanted beef, chicken, and shrimp. Sometimes, I even got meatballs in my spaghetti bolognese. I even remember this one time when my roommate and I were having a conversation about vegetarianism. “I could go vegetarian”, my roommate M said. I really believed that she could because she definitely liked eating her greens a lot more than I did. “I can never ever go vegetarian. I love my meat”, I replied.

Well, look at me now!

I didn’t only become a vegetarian to save animals or whatnot. I did it for my mother. My mother has been a vegetarian since February 2011. I was up at school at that time so when she told me, I was quite shocked. My mom has personal reasons for converting to vegetarianism (ones that I will not expose here on my blog). But the reasons she has for being a vegetarian are really admirable reasons. So when I heard of the reasons she had for going vegetarian, I made the active decision to slowly start phasing out meat. It started with pork and then eventually led to beef. By summer, I was only eating fish, select seafood (as I am allergic to shellfish) and chicken. For one week before Thanksgiving weekend (first week of October for us Canadians), I went vegetarian for one week. Then, from November 12th-December 12th, I went vegetarian for one month. That’s when I decided that come the new year, I was going to completely switch to vegetarianism. So was my main reason for switching to vegetarianism? I did it for my mother. I didn’t want her to do it on her own. My mother was doing it for such an incredible reason; I wanted to give something up for her, and giving up meat for my mother was not such a big deal to me.

So far, I have not slipped up, and I don’t intend to. My aunt asked me yesterday, if I sometimes crave for meat, especially when I see others around me eating it. I told her no. Actually, it is not as hard as I thought it would be. I remember the first time I came home to Toronto after having recently converted to vegetarianism, my mom had made me my favourite Vietnamese dish: Bun Rieu (Noodles in crab/seafood based soup). She had made me a whole pot because she knew it was my favourite and had forgotten that I had switched over to vegetarianism. I couldn’t eat it, but it wasn’t so bad. Every time someone asks me, “well, don’t you crave? Don’t you ever want to go back?” I tell them that no, I do not crave, and I do not intend on going back to meat. Why don’t I ever slip up? Because I have a good reason for being a vegetarian, and I have made the active decision to cut it out. Once I make decisions like that, I don’t go back.

So that was my story. Anyway, back to Food Inc. Seriously, nine minutes into the movie I was already so glad that I had converted to vegetarianism. In the back of my mind, I have always known that the food industry has become this massive thing controlled by these evil corporate monsters at the top. But boy, what I was thinking did not compare to anything this documentary showed me. I highly highly recommend this documentary. The one hour and thirty-three minutes you will spend watching this documentary will change the rest of your life; it will change the way you look at food and will change what you will put into your mouth!

Over this past year or so, I have really learned what it means to be healthy. And with this whole vegetarian thing, I have never felt better. Sure, at first, when I became a vegetarian, I was tired all of the time. But I learned of where to get the right nutrients and supplemented the ones that I can’t with vitamins. Food Inc. is such a captivating documentary! Trust me. I think I’m healthy? Well now, I am going to try as often as I can to buy only organic foods. And that means no more buying milks in bags! It’s going to be hard to find milk in glass water bottles, but it’s going to be worth it! (It tastes so much better!) It’s going to be expensive, especially when for the past couple of weeks, I have been spending no more than $15-20 dollars a week on groceries. But it’s going to be worth it in the end. I will be saving countless trips to the hospital in the future.

Boys and girls, Ladies and Gentleman, please look around you. Look at what our world has come to! The least we can do is know where our food is coming from. The issue at hand is not about eating or not eating animals. It’s about the treatment of animals, and even how human workers are being treated in these factories.

The documentary was so good that I have already contacted some of my friends and told them to watch it. But many have refused. Why? What was the common reply that I got? “I don’t want to watch it because I love meat”. Well friends, I’m not asking you to become vegetarians. I am simply asking you to educate yourself, to inform yourselves as to where your meat comes from and how other souls are being treated. Trust me, the scene of the slaughtering of the pigs, and hearing all of their squeeling and how much it resembles the squeals of humans was what got me the most. My friends, ignorance is not bliss. Not knowing anything about your food doesn’t make things better. In fact, it makes things worse.

I give the documentary 5/5 stars. Watch it!

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 1, 2012 7:46 pm

    “Even though I am not actively “saving the animals”, I feel better knowing that I am not “participating”. ”
    Actually, you are. Every time you choose not to purchase a piece of meat, it makes a difference. You are voting every time you visit the grocery store – don’t sell yourself short! And welcome to the vegetarian world!

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