She's so cute I could eat her. But I won't!
For an animal lover it can be discomforting to see one in duress. While visiting San Rafael, Mendoza I was shocked to find so many homeless dogs wandering the streets and parks in pursuit of food. Many of them had broken legs, and no one cared.
I truly believe (maybe it’s more hope) that if we are judged at the end of our lives it will be for our treatment of animals, those among us who are the most innocent and defenseless.
The apathy towards the suffering of animals is criminal. I can’t understand it, let alone tolerate it. I’ve been a vegetarian for seven years, and living in Argentina has tested my resolve, but I have never wavered. Nor will I. The cuisine of a specific country isn’t a good enough reason for me to start eating meat.
I’ve noticed that women, more than men, draw comfort from food, and enjoy writing about their culinary experiences. Maybe it’s similar to the relationship that men have with beer. What I do know is that I have a different relationship with food; it’s merely for sustenance. Well that’s not true. I have a sweet tooth.
A sweet tooth for some dog loving!
I’ve had to defend being a vegetarian for years. Most people attempt to question how devout I am, or label me as a hypocrite when I reveal to them that I eat eggs occasionally. My response is always the same: I’m doing my part, what are you doing? I buy vegan shoes, and if it once had a face, I don’t eat it.
Through the years I have met many people who profess to have practiced vegetarianism, but gave it up for various reasons, maybe a job, or a boyfriend, or because they claim that vegetarianism caused a vitamin deficiency.
Becoming a vegetarian means that you have to educate yourself about food and one of the most popular misconceptions is that a vegetarian diet lacks sufficient protein. That is a complete fallacy. North Americans already consume too much protein as is, most of it derived by eating too much meat. Plentiful amounts of protein can be found in beans, tofu, green vegetables, and many other healthier options.
Cancer rates have been linked to eating too much red meat, while vegetarian diets have been proven to decrease the risk of certain cancers. Simply put, being a vegetarian is good for animals, including the most self-entitled of the lot: Humans.
I have a yearly physical and Dr. Laura orders a series of blood tests, one of which measures vitamin and mineral deficiencies. In seven years not once have I had a problem, in fact Dr. Laura assures me: “You’re in textbook good health.”
I stopped eating meat because I informed myself about where my meat was coming from. Being a thoughtful person I lost sleep thinking about how animals are raised for the sole purpose of ending up on our dinner plates. Most of them live in abhorrent and inhumane conditions that we wouldn’t wish on our worst enemy. How could I continue eating meat when I knew what I did about where it came from?
My philosophy is that all animals are as valuable as human beings. I don’t know where we ever got the idea that we were somehow more deserved of life than any other species but it sounds like a justification to continue eating meat, guilt free.
Animal right’s groups like PETA give a voice to the voiceless, without them there would be further atrocities committed against animals globally. Think about what that would mean for our planet and our ethics.
I have had more arguments on the subject of vegetarianism than I care to discuss. The topic drives most meat eaters to foam at the mouth, and I don’t know why. I am not insinuating that they become vegetarians overnight, but I am advocating that they inform themselves. Don’t put a piece of meat into your mouth until you’re willing to visit a slaughterhouse and watch that animal be murdered in cold blood, without remorse, or compassion.
Learn how chickens, cows and pigs are killed just so you can have a satisfying dining experience, and don’t forget to post the picture on facebook! If you can’t commit to becoming a full-time vegetarian then try making small changes. For instance, try eating meat only twice a week as opposed to five, and slowly incorporate more fruits and vegetables to your daily meals. Or if that’s too much of a commitment, try to purchase organic meat. At least this way you’re secure in the knowledge that the animal, when alive, didn’t suffer.
When I look at a picture of my lovely soon-to-be three-year-old English Bulldog Maude, I couldn’t imagine forcing her into a life of servitude only to be killed violently for my own hedonistic pleasure. Perhaps I look at animals as something to love, not to eat. To think about how many unfinished meat is thrown into the garbage at the end of the night (clearly because it wasn’t marinated to ones satisfaction), I am compelled to speak up.
This is not to say that I am ignorant of the plight of children, quite the opposite. When I was in Tanzania two years ago I visited an AIDS orphanage and witnessed the treatment of the disabled.
While my peers were busy playing with the babies and toddlers I wandered the hallways and found a young boy with Cerebral Palsy strapped to a chair, alone, and based on his hygiene, forgotten. I worked with a teenager with Cerebral Palsy for a year when I lived in England and although each individual is unique, no child deserves to be abandoned because they require special needs. Not by their family, and certainly not by society.
What I am saying is that if we can’t care for the innocent and disenfranchised, what hope does the future of our civilization have when we’re more concerned about hooking up at clubs and bars, owning cars and iPods, obsessing about our appearance and updating our facebook statuses?
Walking through the streets of San Rafael witnessing so many unwanted injured dogs begging for comfort and love, I struggled to understand how people could callously ignore their plight. We have this notion that it is always someone else’s problem, but that’s such a cop-out.
I was sitting at a café enjoying a coffee and croissant when a black dog came up beside me, clearly nursing a broken leg. We made eye contact and he sprawled out near my feet where he fell asleep almost instantly. My heart sank. What was I to do? Unlike in Canada there are no animal welfare protection agencies in Argentina.
I am ashamed to tell you that I did what every other person in San Rafael does daily: After the bill was settled, I walked away. His image is now permanently ingrained in my memory, and I will never forget him.
In the end when we choose to eat meat that’s what we’re all doing: We are walking away from our responsibility to make the world a safe and loving place for everyone, including animals.
South Americans do not believe in spaying and neutering their pets, resulting in an overpopulation of unwanted dogs. On my trip back to Buenos Aires I passed seven dead dogs on the side of the road, presumably each were hit by a vehicle. I also passed several trucks crammed with cows. I made eye contact with one unlucky cow pinned to the wall of the truck and we stared at each other for a long time. I wanted to save him so badly I started to cry. I felt as helpless as he did.
Lately I’ve been flirting with the idea of becoming a vegan and have drawn inspiration from health activist and author Kathy Freston. She has great tips and recipes that anyone can employ. Check her out.
Save Maude from hungry humans!