How my son turned me into a Vegetarian?
..because I was tired of lying to my 4-year-old son. Lying every day. Lying whenever he asked me the question. I felt like a cheat and the biggest hypocrite.
I feel like a living example of an OXYMORON- A meat-eating sensitive person. LOOKING BACK. I am 35 now, and it's not the first time it has struck me. But I ate, ate heartily, applauding praises to the chef or to mum, whoever cooked those tender, spicy, delicious sumptuous chicken delicacies or mutton varieties. I was a slave to my palate and traded guilt for taste and hit it under the cover of ‘everybody else is doing it. I alone can't do anything about it.’ Point taken. Traded. Done. Leg piece of chicken goes down the throat with delight. Yummy!!!
Somewhere around 9 years of age, the first time I actually went to the chicken shop with my father and saw the entire episode. I was aghast. I was pained. I came back home shocked. Two hours later, I had traded ….my palette a slave …I pretended to repress what I had seen...and all was well. Next time onwards ...I pledged not to accompany my father to the shop. Rationale well placed. Palate well placed at the top.
23 years later, and then came motherhood. For the past 1.5 years, my little boy's questions have tormented me endlessly. Now there are two of us feasting on non-vegetarian food. Guess it never occurred to him when he was a toddler. ‘I better don't tell him the truth, big deal,’ and I continued serving him chicken soup and goat curry. Then came his astonishingly awesome verbal skills and his childlike questions capable of intriguing the best minds at the risk of making them feel dumb. But I always preferred to have answers either through my own mental faculties or Google. Jokes apart, I want to raise my son to the best of my capability. Teach him the best I can and make him learn the best he can. So here come my two cents as to what propelled me to even think about Vegetarianism.
‘We don't say bad words or hurt anyone.’ Don't we all say this regularly to our children? I am doing the same. ‘It's not nice. Don't pluck flowers. Don't uproot plants. Don't throw the pebble at the dog. Don't stamp on the earthworm. Let the ants be; let them go home. You have to be sensitive to people and animals.’
My daily chant for my son. And then came the big question- ‘Mum, do chicken grow on trees?’. I said, ‘No. We get it from the shop.’
‘Then do we kill them and eat?’
Silence...one long silence and then came the bouncer- ‘But you say that we shouldn't hurt anyone.’ (He is an avid reader of animals and knows it far too well now that chickens, goats, and fish are living beings.)
Never before I fell so short of words, I fumbled for an explanation. But this time, I had no answer and so didn't Google. I avoided the first day it came. I distracted him the second time it bounced at me. I lied the third time and post that I have kept lying.
Meanwhile, I got a chance to read The Sustainability Secret: Rethinking Our Diet to Transform the World … and what is revealed was not only nauseatingly appalling but also deeply distressing. The statistics and the facts are enough for one lifetime of shame and guilt. I realized how much of a hypocrite I have been all this while. The only difference is that I didn’t get to kill. But I ate knowing very well that my taste buds are propelling a cold-blooded murder. All for the sake of my taste buds and protein intake. Ridiculous.
The authors here have explained how a vegan meal is sufficient in providing all the nutrition needed for the body except for B12. Vegans can get this B12 from supplements and/or fortified food. I have now decided that I won’t lie anymore. An albatross is wearing me out. I shall make a sustainable choice for myself, my kid, my family, and my EARTH.
Son, I write to you out of remorse, shame, and tons of guilt. I only hope you will understand while growing up what goes into different cultures where eating non-vegan meals is part and parcel of upbringing a child. The palate gets addicted and trusts me; it's hard to get over. Now that you are in my life, I can only ensure that I walk the talk and hand over to you something more meaningful to live by. I want to give you those answers which you can't question later in your adult life, and should a need arise to question, you should have the freedom and strength to choose another answer and not feel slaved because of some habit that I inculcated in you.
I say this because many non-vegans like me will testify-It’s going to be hard to walk on the vegetarianism path. But I Must. I Will.
Son-I can’t lie to you anymore. My own hypocrisy makes me feel so inadequate. I call myself a mum, a psychologist, and an educator. And I sit at dinner time gulping down non-vegan meals savoring every bite, pretending to be an ignoramus of how this meal got to my dinner table and talking about ethics/principles and how the world has become an unsafe place to inhabit, how people have become intolerant and mercenary and how difficult it is to survive in today’s time of indifference and insensitivity. Am done with it.
I am no animal lover, but I don't want to be a killer too. Yes, we are vegetarian, and we don't hurt anyone. Yes! I was wrong throughout.
Simple. A little late, though…. better than never. That’s just my and my sonny boy's story.
What Studies tell us
Animal breeding and agriculture are the single most important reason our earth gets so crowded, contaminated, polluted, and water depleted. Animal agriculture takes approximately 340 trillion gallons of water. Be it taps, toilets, showers, pipes, or appliances, we cannot be called responsible and water-friendly unless we stop animal agriculture. Studies put across figures which show that with approx.% 97 water on planet earth being saltwater, there is very little freshwater (around 2.5%). Out of this 2.5%, around 69.5% is locked out up in glaciers and snow. What is really left with us is a meager 0.4% water, and it's estimated that by 2025 two-third of the world population will suffer from water shortages. Just one hamburger uses 660 gallons of water—just one.
This book is a must-read. An eye-opener and a heart wrencher. This book has the capacity to either end the dilemma (vegan or non-vegan) or to start a dilemma for those who swear by non-vegan food. Imagine raising 70 billion land animals and killing them every year to feed the world population of only 7 billion. Disgusting! Shameful!
Don't waste water-Our daily mantra to our children’s it? Huh! It’s a valuable resource. Don't leave the tap open. Wash hands fast. Don't brush your teeth with the water tap turned on. Don't stay in the shower for so long—no playing in the water. And here I was using 660 gallons of water over one hamburger, which I could have easily saved by eating a vegan meal.660 gallons is equivalent to taking a shower for two months.
We really don't care? Well….I thought I did. But I was playing around the surface. Undoubtedly, our meat-hungry, or rather a meat-loving population of the world, is oblivious to these facts or pretending to be. The more meat we eat, the more animal breeding is required. These animals need water-intensive crops to feed on. Rainforest and green vegetation lands are being cut to grow these crops. Greenery is dying out, and so is water. Animal agriculture is responsible for producing more greenhouse gas than the combined emission of all kinds of transportation. Really? Shocking!!! Taking the example of one of the most developed nations globally,56% of water is used to feed these very animals we are ready to serve as a delicacy on our plate day and night. The entire ecosystem is getting affected, and here I am, sitting and serving chicken nuggets to my little one. The authors are making an important point at the end of every chapter-if; this one factor is taken care of; we would really be doing our planet a great service. And it costs nothing and does not harm taking that one step.
I am for sure taking my first step.
Findings attributed to the book The Sustainability Secret: Rethinking Our Diet to Transform the World- By Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn.
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