This post has been written literally dozens of times, and it becomes so long winded that now I’ve had to rewrite it to specifically focus on the two points I wanted to make separately.
For the last six months, I have been vegetarian, and those six months have made me question a lot of what I am doing now and what I have done in the past with regards to my consumption of meat. For the last six months though, I am happy to report that not a single bit of animal product has passed my lips, and for the first time ever, I’ve been able to be a vegetarian with no gaps.
So, what is part one of this post going to be about? It’s going to be about the ethics of being meat-free, and if it really is an ethical way to eat as a whole.
I obviously have a lot of time to think things through, and that is what we have here. A very long thought process that has lasted six months. So, do I think I am an ethical eater now that I am vegetarian? Well, yes, it’s obvious that ethically for animals, I am an ethical eater. I buy only free-range eggs, I consume no dairy and very little honey, I haven’t bought anything leather in all of these six months…I’ve done quite well for myself really.
Do I think that me being vegetarian has really changed the world? No. That is where it all breaks down. I am but one person, and does my abstinence from not eating meat really change anything? Do the supermarkets order one less packet of beef mince, two less whole chickens, just because I chose to stop eating meat? No. No matter what, the shops and stores I used to visit, still buy in the same amount of stock, they just might throw away one extra packet of off-meat once in a while.
There does come a certain acceptance that regardless of what I choose not to eat, the production of it doesn’t stop or lessen. The same amount of animals are slaughtered, and the same amount of meat is stocked. I haven’t changed a thing. An estimated 12% of the UK population are vegetarian or vegan, which means 88% still chow down on meat. But the reality of the situation is, everything is over stocked and every item leads to pointless waste, including meat.
The mass production of these foods is what is really to blame, and food stocks don’t really fluctuate in line with shifts in eating behaviour. Should the Western World decide to become vegetarian overnight, there would still be animals slaughtered, animals waiting to be slaughtered and animals being raised for slaughter. Over ten years the number of vegetarians did grow in the UK from 2% to 12%, so that’s a 10% increase. If that trend continued, in another 88 years, the UK would be vegetarian, but that’s 88 years of continued slaughter, and there’s no guarantee that over that time period, the production of animal products would follow suit. In 2014, 20% of the age group 16-24 identified as vegetarian or vegan, so it shows a shift in the new and emerging generations over these eating habits, but again, it is not a guaranteed shift.
When I was 16, the ‘Straight Edge’ movement took off, and so I think similar numbers would have been expected then as between the ages of 16-21, you’re really finding yourself and experimenting, and that 20% might not be as accurate. What would be interesting is that if in 8 years, this same cohort were asked again if they are vegetarian/vegan and see if the results match.
So, vegetarians and vegans are ethical eaters for animal’s sakes, but what about for other humans…cue part 2.