I was walking through the grocery store the other day, when I saw an eye-opening interaction between a child, who appeared to be about four years old, and his father. They were standing next to the fish display, and the child was staring at the rows of marine life organized on the ice. It went something like this:
Child: Daddy, why are all of those fish dead?
Dad: The fishermen killed them.
Child: Why did they do that?
Dad: Um… I don’t know…
Son: But they didn’t have to kill them, right, Dad?
Dad: They killed them so we can eat them.
Son: But killing is wrong.
Dad then steered his son away from the fish display.
This interaction reminded me of the simple purity of a child’s thoughts. I’ve loved animals since I was little. My first books all featured animals of various sorts, and I loved those characters; loving those characters in turn encouraged me to learn how to read. Whenever I saw a real, live animal, it was a magical experience. I wanted to get to know them, to touch their fur, to interact with them. I had respect for them.
And yet, somehow, meatballs in soup with carrots and potatoes, chicken with rice, and various other animal-based meals appeared in front of me. I was urged to eat them because eating them would make me stronger and help me grow. The connection between loving animals and then turning around and eating them, was, I am sure, quickly reasoned to be just a matter of fact. The conversations likely went something like, “Where does this meat come from? A cow? But I like cows. It was born and grew up to become meat for me to eat? I have to eat it or I won’t grow? Okay…”
I don’t blame anyone for conditioning me to eat meat. I don’t blame people who are conditioned to eat meat for doing so. However, we have options now. I encourage you to think about what, or who, you are really eating. When I started to do this, it felt like such a relief, to be rid of the dissonance between loving and respecting animals’ lives, and eating them too.
A cute video touched me recently. I highly recommend watching it: