Thursday, 26 May 2011

Green Shoots

By now, all readers will know I'm a vegetarian. The title of this blog literally gives it away. As we're in the throes of National Vegetarian Week, I'm dedicating this post to veggies – old and new, and those mulling over the prospect. I'd like to think we've come a long way since vegetarianism first began, but some attitudes still frankly consume me. Being veggie is not always enough to change entrenched societal views.

What I'd like to focus on here is the value we place on animals. The belief that not all are necessary or desirable. We do this to humans too, but we're less likely to admit it. Classified “not human” seems to make this belief somehow more acceptable. I find myself unable to negotiate this criteria regardless of the subject: human or non-human form. Further still, I can't understand how some people can be directly involved in an animal's care, yet not face a dilemma in eating them. Not blink an eye when it comes to the prize – their highly valued meat. Except we don't even value this enough, thinking it's our right to partake. Surely an infringement of animals' rights, if animals were supposed to have any.

Studies have shown animals are self-aware, feel and perceive pain and emotions too, yet the human need to consume them is great. Able to detach the animal in the field from the meat on the plate. My belief meat-eaters should consume in full knowledge. I want children and adults to know where their food comes from, to see food close up and living, before placed on trucks for the supermarket. To make an informed decision. Transparency, the new golden rule. Well, I want this in the food industry too.

Animals taken for granted as substance when our environment has changed. We no longer need meat to sustain. The latter, a factor I'd like to see publicly defined. Eating meat a choice, not a precondition of life. Is it only veggies that question this human-made condition: the assumed hierarchy of life? Some would argue humans are placed in the position of stewardship, guardians of other life forms on Earth. I support this view up to a point, but oppose the accompanying notion, which implies animals are owned by us to be used as resources. Where does it state explicitly this is how life's meant to be? The power to speak words is not a strong consent, nor does it imply animals are not our equals.

I'd like to think in future this sense of dominion will diminish and be replaced by a coequal existence. The ideals voiced above are just that – green shoots for the movement, although we need green shoots in the form of members too. Make the pledge if it feels right for you. Our duty to impart the general rule: Eat, question and consider. A principle we all can do.