Monday, 22 March 2010
For a few years, back in the mid-90's, I became a vegetarian. This is a good thing. A balanced vegetarian diet is excellent for health and it's good for the environment in that it wastes less energy and resources producing crops for animal feed. But I also became an evangelical vegetarian. I became a born-again vegetarian and I started acting in the way that born-again religious fundamentalists -the sort of people I despise- behave. This is a bad thing.
I drifted back to eating animals, partly because Susan wouldn't go veggie which always struck me as odd given her strong anti-vivisection beliefs, and partly because I just liked eating animals. I still believed that vegetarianism was a moral and physically beneficial choice, I just didn't practise it.
Now I find myself feeling uncomfortable eating meat and fowl and have decided to stop. Instead, I'm going on a diet of seafood (fish and crustacae) and vegetables, but mainly vegetarian. Ultimately I hope to go completely veggie.
But the one thing I'm not going to do is get on my high horse and pontificate on the benefits and on my obvious moral superiority -that last phrase was meant ironically. I really do have no intention of moralising. This is something I have decided suits me and that's all. I'm not going to be dogmatic about and if, or when, I have lapses (such as eating turkey with the rest of the family on Xmas Day), then so be it.
There's also a whopping piece of hypocrisy in my views but you probably didn't spot it because, like everyone else which includes me until just recently, you view animals as a hierarchy. Mammals are on the top, followed by birds, down to reptiles, fish, crustacae and the like, then insects. Because we are mammals and because mammals evolved last and are the most sophisticated biologically, they are, therefore, more important, better.
But what I am actually doing by partly substituting fish and seafood for birds and mammals is taking more lives. I doubt if, during the course of my life, I've consumed more than the equivalent of a couple of hundred entire mammals (cows, pigs, mainly). I've probably eaten several thousand chickens. But I have probably consumed over 20,000 fish and hundreds of thousands of shrimp, prawns, squid and crabs. On Saturday night alone, I ate about 20 dead animals (prawns). Only our heirarchical system of values differentiates between than and eating 20 cows. I would argue that there is no moral difference between a prawn and a cow. Each has a life and I have chosen to take it.
None of this is going to affect my decision to eat fish as a supplement to a primarily vegetarian diet, I'm just offering it as a different way of looking at what we eat. In the meantime and as of yesterday, I have now stopped eating meat and fowl and I feel good about it.