by Nikki Bishop
(Kitchener, Ontario, Canada)
This will probably be an incredibly over simplified version of my vegetarian journey but I will attempt to make it somewhat interesting.
As a small child I never really liked the taste of meat or the idea that it was from a once living creature. At that point, vegetarianism wasn't really discussed or even offered as an option. Eating meat was just considered to be the normal thing to do. I even remember being given leaflets at school with the happy family who ate a "balanced" diet, including animal products, cavorting through the green fields and then the black and white picture, in contrast, of the scruffy hippie vegetarian who very obviously was a social outcast and malnourished to boot.
Thankfully, even at that tender age, I viewed this with some skepticism. It wasn't until my 18th year that a very simple traditional Thanksgiving family meal changed my views forever. As the meal drew to a close, and we all sat back to view the nearly cleared table I realized that, sitting on a platter in front of me, was the carcass of a dead turkey and even worse, we continued to strip flesh and consume it from this once living creature.
The double standard of giving thanks for the food we ate during that meal whilst consuming something that had been sacrificed in order for us to do this, all of a sudden filled me with such sadness and horror that I decided to never again be responsible for the death of a living creature if I could avoid it.
I know this all sounds very dramatic and everyone is probably thinking I am a huge animal loving activist but the truth is I am not. I simply have no desire to cause the death of anything, be it animal or human, in order that I may eat and survive. I am fully capable or sustaining myself and my family by a eating plant based diet and feel morally comfortable and content with my decision to live this lifestyle.
I know that ecologically this diet is better for our planet and I see and feel the health benefits attributed to a vegetarian diet, but I think that most of the benefits come from feeling the contentment that I am living my life demonstrating a moral value that I feel is incredibly important to pass on to future generations.