After a lifetime as a carnivore the move to being vegetarian has definitely been a long time coming. I have been aware of the environmental and ethical implications of eating meat for a very long time. My wife is a lifelong vegetarian and now vegan. Both my daughters made the choice as teenagers to not eat meat. To all of their credit they have not harassed me over my choice and for decades I have eaten different meals from the rest of my family.
I tried to be a conscientious consumer by choosing organic meat, only cooking it outside on the barbecue to keep the smell of it out of the kitchen and being discreet when preparing my meal. Over the past few years my meat consumption has dropped and more frequently I found myself thinking about the reality that what I was eating was once a living creature that likely suffered a horrible death so that I could dine on its flesh.
But in the end the turning point came from the mouth of my 3 and a half-year old grandson. His simple statement while I sat with him as he ate his dinner reverberated to my own moral core. “We like animals, don’t we Poppa? We don’t eat them.”
His brown eyes holding my gaze as he looked to me for confirmation was like a battering ram to the gate of my poorly held defenses. I do love animals and I do recognize their unique place in our world and I had no choice but to agree with him. Those words would come back to me over and over in the days to follow.
Six weeks ago I made the final decision to leave meat behind. I am no longer eating the flesh of other creatures. I have also given up drinking milk and switched to an alternative of cashew milk. Next will be the shift to non-diary cheese but I’m self-aware enough to know that I need some time to make that adjustment.
Fortunately we are living in a time where there has never been more options to have a plant-based diet. In mainstream grocery stores you’ll see a wide range of burgers and various other options for a vegan diet.
I know there will be situations in social settings, restaurants, traveling and such that will mean my new lifestyle will have limited choices but I’m okay with that. I’ve witnessed my wife deal with those restrictions for over 40 years and today there are far more selections being offered to take into consideration the non-meat eating person.
I feel much better now when I respond to my grandson, “Yes, we love animals and we don’t eat them.”