Growing up with German, French and British influences all around me, meat was pretty much secured into my everyday diet since I was a small kid. Bratwurst, roast chicken on Sundays, Schwarzwälder Schinken in sandwiches when we went hiking. It was in every meal - you would never have a meal without a meat portion. I remember a funny story my mum told me that, years ago, she had made a vegetarian curry for my father's friends after a rugby match - they had confusingly asked where the 'steak or chicken' was, visibly shocked that a meal could be prepared without meat. Apparently, they had laughed about it for years after.
Recently I have become more and more critical of the consumption of meat we as humans eat and produce. I won't start with the environmental and political catastrophes that the meat industry actively contributes to, as I assume that anybody who reads the news or has any idea of global warming will know at least something about. It's no surprise that natural powerhouses such as the Amazon are being mowed down to make room for livestock grazing each day, about 200,000 acres being burned every 24 hours. The drive and demand for meat around the world lead to humans destroying the ground we stand on to keep up with demand and quotas, and it haunts me each time I read about forest fires or deforestation on this scale.
Another reason why I just can't eat meat anymore, ethically, is the scale of animal cruelty and inhumane conditions these animals live in. I have always adored animals, coming from a family with many pets throughout my childhood. My dog, who we rescued from greyhound racing where she lived in pretty awful conditions, has been one of my closest companions and a beacon of love and affection for years. Now she is nearing the end of her life, as much as it upsets me to say and makes even me tear up thinking about it - but what I've realised is now how much I value and feel fiercely protective over the lives of these animals. We rescued her from a terrible situation and gave her love and support - what difference does that make from saving animals from being slaughtered and eaten? I know this is an age-old question, but where do we draw the line between a family pet and a cow, for instance?
Thinking about this makes me feel pretty bad. I feel lost and helpless in such a situation, where enormous companies are pushing this culture of consumption, where workers are dying in meat factories due to deadly conditions and Covid, animals being tortured and Co2 emissions skyrocketing due to methane. What can one person do? I also know it's unrealistic to expect people to immediately turn to veganism or expect different cultures to stop eating meat or raising livestock as their only means of income.
I've definitely thought about this topic waaaay too much recently, especially since the origins of Covid are becoming more apparent and a few European countries having to cull minks recently for Covid outbreaks. Why on earth do we need minks? Why do we insist on squeezing them into outrageous conditions to make fur coats and then having no choice but to kill them when we realise they are biologically capable of mutating a virus? The mind boggles.
I know it's a heavy subject and I also understand that people feel differently about this subject. But now it just seems that we can't ignore the issue anymore, and I think we all have a duty to start - or continue - to cut down our animal consumption in every form.