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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all, I just introduced myself on a previous board, and thought I would open up with the things that brought me to this forum, in looking for support and ideas to make this all a more permanent thing for me....I would like to thank all in advance for reading on. I cannot do this without help, I am realizing.

First things first, I am very new to this. I gave up meat for Lent this year (not a true Catholic, but always admired the idea) and have stuck with it now past my 40 days. Recently, I have been contemplating the hope of keeping the change permanent. That is why I am here. With all of this said, it is probably useless to continue without a little about me.

I am now 26 and moved to US from New Zealand (North Island) 4 months ago, in order to move forward in my job and to see a great new place. I was an "omni" as you apparently call it all of my life until this Spring. As a kid, we grew up on a lot of land, and largely lived off of what it gave us. My parents weren't poor per se, but stores weren't very close, and hunting and fishing was just "how it was done" as a child. I saw my first deer skinned in front of me as a toddler I am sure. I could do it myself by 12 or so. If this is off-putting to some, I apologize. I figure one cannot empathize or contribute to what one does not understand, thus this explanation.

Making almost 20 years of my life very short, eating animals was part of our existence. I can count on one hand the number of times we bought meat from another person. I think one gets the picture....but here is what has been killing me so much lately.

The first time I ever killed a deer, my father followed my up to its body. He made sure it was not suffering any longer, and said a Maori prayer (I am half and half, my father being full blooded Maori). We spent almost 20 minutes over the body, giving thanks for its life being given to sustain ours. Every dinner that I can ever remember started this way. Even for farm animals we had such as pigs (perhaps boar is more accurate), chickens, and later steers, a very long ritual was done. Our livestock were given names, and were taken well care of until old age or disease made slaughter more practical. We didn't breed them or force them into pens. They roamed around, were cared for, and were killed after years of a good life, almost always due to disease or inability to eat. (for example pigs tend to get cataracts to the point of blindness in old age, and will slowly starve. As a kid my father had a lens for us to check their eyes to make sure they weren't getting them....or cows would get spinal arthritis and have to be put down, etc)

In other words, we ate meat and fish. A good deal of it....but there was a respect for the animal that connected us to them. We had always lived that way.

Upon coming to the US, I gleefully bought all the meat one could imagine. You'd be amazed how cheap it is compared to back home. My fridge was full after the first weekend. I could never understand why people liked the chicken already cut, skinned etc. To me, that says inferior product! Anyway, I was happy as a clam to be having all of that so cheaply, without catching it myself or paying 5x that amount in NZ. That was a month long.

In Feb, I saw a movie called "Food Inc". I am sure many in this forum have heard of it. In short, I was physically disturbed after seeing it. I guess I had presumed that well, this is a big country; all of that meat must be coming from a lot of family farms like we had (and my father still has) back home. I assumed the rules of respect were being followed....obviously, I was very wrong. I remember a friend of mine I know from work being slightly confused when I insisted we acknowledge the steaks on our plate. It was all a lot of culture shock...

So that brings me to my current situation. I have tried to educate myself more on the food system here in the US. The more I learn, the more I want out, the more I want to just go back home. I guess that my questions are these: I know that I am in many ways "the enemy", in that I honestly find nothing wrong with the way I grew up. With this said, how can I reconcile this with the realities of meat in this country? Is that reason enough to be a vegetarian, or do these sentiments somehow make it all fraudulent? Are there ways to get a little more back home "tangi" (or mourning of that sacrificed) here?

Or perhaps more succinctly: Am I living a lie by refusing to eat meat made in such a manner, when I clearly had no such problems with it being done back home?

Any input is appreciated, even if it is to denigrate the above sentiment. I am all ears at this point. Thank you.

Taven
Midland, Texas
 

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I don't think you're in any way being a hypocrite or inconsistent if you want to be a vegetarian when you live outside of where you grew up, but still find the practices of your family farm acceptable. Many people are vegetarians just because they are against factory farming, not eating animals in general. Likewise, there are many people who don't eat any eggs, except for those they gather from their own backyard chickens, because commercial egg production is pretty abhorrent too.

You're not living a lie. There are no rules that to be a vegetarian, you must be against eating meat in all circumstances, or even that you have to be against eating meat at all. Some people are vegetarians for their own personal health. Some might have no ethical qualms with eating a dead animal, but hate the negative impact livestock farming has on the environment.

You sound very thoughtful and compassionate in your own way. I don't think there is anything wrong with any of your feelings (though, not having been raised in the same circumstances, I could never, ever kill an animal myself.)
 

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Food, Inc is actually a watered down version of the truth. Over 99% of all store bought meat in the U.S. comes from conditions like this.

Whether you've killed animals before or not, these would be the conditions you'd be paying other people to keep animals in if you continued buying meat. Even "free range" and "organic" isn't necessarily treated any better. Most food labeled thus actually is still raised on factory farms, as the terms are very loosely defined and enforced. I could cram 1000 chickens in my tool shed and legally define them as free range.

It's far easier to simply buy and eat vegetarian food in the US than to find meat that comes form a non factory farmed animal. If you don't have a problem with killing, you could always hunt and fish, but I'd implore you to put yourself in the animal's place even in that scenario. No animal wants to die, no matter how thankful you are. Another good mental exercise is to ask ourselves if it would be okay to kill our neighbor's pets, or our own, simply because they had a good life. If not, what's the difference between a pig and a dog? A chicken and a cat?

Please think about all that. You'll have truly put more thought into it than the average person once you're able to grapple with those questions, regardless of what your final decision is. Never look away from suffering or pretend it doesn't exist. It does.
 

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I think everyone has their own reasons and varying degrees of reasons for becoming vegetarian or vegan. I don't think any of them are wrong, either, for I believe everyone should have their own values and ways to live their own life. I decided one day that maybe I should become a vegetarian because I loved animals. I didn't have a clue about anything that went on in the meat industry, just deep down I felt I knew here was something wrong in us eating animals at all. Once I did my research, though, I decide to become a vegan because of all the terrible torture the animals go through. Now that I've joined this forum and participated and read many discussions, I've realized that the torture is awful, but I think that even if the animals were all treated well, I still wouldn't eat meat, dairy, eggs, honey, etc. because I think it's wrong to murder and eat animals or steal what's not ours to steal at all. I think it's even wrong to hurt an animal in self defense or for an other reason, though, too. I've gotten to the poin where I'd rather die than live with the fact that I've caused an animal pain on my conscience. I hurt animals before by being a full omnivore, but now that I know what I was doing was wrong in my opinion then I could never go back to that life.

I think my views are probably more extreme, though, and there are people who are vegetarians and vegan simply because the animals are tortured, but they may not be opposed to eating animal products that could somehow be as humanely obtained as possible, and some people are like me and think every way of exploiting animals for food is inhumane. It doesn't make any of us any less or more vegetarian/vegan, we just all have different personal opinions, morals, and ethics.
 

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You want "physically disturbed"? Watch Earthlings, and then you'll realize your drawn out post was almost unnecessary.
I implore you, go watch it this instant. It is not for the faint at heart.
After viewing it please come back and write your feedback in this thread.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by KrisMTL View Post

You want "physically disturbed"? Watch Earthlings, and then you'll realize your drawn out post was almost unnecessary.
I implore you, go watch it this instant. It is not for the faint at heart.
After viewing it please come back and write your feedback in this thread.
Agreed. Here's the link http://www.earthlings.com/
It's under feature film and then click on full film. completely free to watch the entire video.
 

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Personally, I'm a vegan because I object to factory farming, which is the meat industry you're finding out about. I object less to hunting and fishing. Death is natural; torture is not.

So, no, I don't find it hypocritical for you to avoid factory farmed meat.
 

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Your family really sounds wonderful. They did what they had to, eyes wide open, and were grateful for having food. I imagine without eating animals there often wouldn't be enough.
When you have alternatives so accessible, that's when you need to refrain from eating animals. That's where you are now.
Now when your prayer is offered for your food, you can include the gratitude that no animal had to die for you to live.
Welcome here! And welcome to whole new world of food!
 

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Plenty of vegetarians believe that 'killing and eating animals is morally acceptable' however, they do not believe that factory farming is. So they've opted to eat a plant-based diet as a sort of boycott against industrialized animal agriculture. Or they've chosen a plant-based diet for health reasons.

Personally, I'm vegan because I believe that animals are not food (or other 'tools' for human use), but I'm not the kind of person who will nag vegetarians about being vegetarian 'for the wrong reasons.' I don't much care why you're veg, I just enjoy the fact that you are
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hello again,
First of all, I wish to thank everyone that has taken time to respond. I imagined this would be a "one reply a week" kind of practice, and was very pleasantly surprised to see the rapidity of responses. With this said, here are my thoughts.

I realize that I come from a very different culture than the prevailing one that I live in now in Texas. I do not wish to give some kind of anthropology lesson, but there is one very big concept that is ground into my beliefs.

There is a Maori word, "Wehi", that was always a so prevalent in my lexicon while growing up. The word is basically rendered to idea of guilt, or more exactly, the guilt of the living. See to me, no food that I can possibly obtain is not stolen. I am not a plant. I can only eat the plant or I can kill the animal that eats the plant. In both cases, I am taking what is not mine to live.

I guess that for me, farming, or eating plants, was never without its own set of "Wehi", or guilt. In order to feed just my family of 6, 7 to 8 acres were prepared and planted on in Spring. That, my father would always tell me, was some animals home and its food. The deer would have to walk clear around our house and farm to get to the same ravine to drink. Our dogs would kill rabbits or other intruders onto the land that would devastate our crop. In order to grow it, huge amounts of water had to be taken from somewhere, another animal or fish's home or source. Each year, we would alternate fields, at times coming back to clear a space we had not used in decades. I think one gets the idea.

My point is that for me, there is nothing I can possibly eat that is not stolen, that is guiltless. It is the common denominator of many of the apathetic public and some of the most die-hard vegans I have ever met; BOTH wish to walk around guiltless. That, for me, is an impossibility.

Now, before I am misunderstood, I do not wish to even remotely equate one eating a carton of Tofu to eating a steak. Yes, those soybeans had to be planted on some piece of cleared land, likely heavily fertilized (hopefully with some mind to the environment and runoff), and trucked to where I am. A cow that is my steak, apparently, lives a life of abject misery, is fed thousands of pounds of corn that all had to be cleared for and fertilized, and then killed as if it is a worthless non-entity. For me, I would put the "Wehi" of those two things at about 5 to 5000. They are by no means equivalent. But if I am to ignore the small guilt of eating my Tofu, I am indeed a fraud in taking large notice to the animal. Both must be stolen from. I do not mean to express that most all vegetarians DO wish to be guiltless. Most I have spoken to realize where ALL of their food comes from, and what must be sacrificed to the environment to attain it. They are environmentalists first, vegetarianism being only a logical requirement of these beliefs. I have the utmost respect for this ideal. However, some laymen act as if their eating no meat abdicates them from any moral or ecological impact on the Earth. For me, especially as someone what works in agriculture and knows how it really works, is to commit the same moral blindness as the average steak-eater. All food, in any form or method, is theft. It is only a matter of how much we must steal. I am realizing that I am stealing an enormous amount, and committing a moral back-stab to the "Wehi" that all life revolves to, by participating in the meat-eating industrial food system. I leave it behind because I must steal much, much less to feel genuine in what I believe.

In regards to hunting, I realize I am talking to an opposing view and I respect that. I guess my only reply is that all of my food is theft, and the soul must be grateful for all we take away from the Earth to live. For me, there is a massive amount of difference between my killing a family cow that has lived 8 years of its 10 year life expectancy, that has had calves it cared for and fields it roamed, only to yes, be killed to feed the family once its health has started to fail. It does not "like to die", but it did know many years of liking life, and that matters. It would like to live forever as well I am sure, but death must occur, it is only the how and the why that we must grapple with. When it dies, it will be done with the kids nearly forced to watch, less we lose our respect for its soul and the life it gave us. In other words, all death is not equal, just as all life is not either. I fell out of my seat when I saw some of the videos I was shown....but not for the gore or the sight of death. That is all part of life. I was disturbed for the animal's life, or what they knew of it, and the total lack of respect for its sacrifice. It is the view of animals as commodities, like stocks on a financial board, that so appalls me. Yes, all food is theft. But it is far different to steal with respect for the life, to add to the life while you could, than to act as if there is nothing more being exchanged here than dollars and calories. That idea is why I am driving myself nearly insane passing the fast-food places here in town, driving almost 50 miles to a place where I know the food, the all-plant food, is being respected and grown with conscience.

I look forward to more discussion, and especially to any links one may have to family farms in Texas or California. Right now it is trunks full of food from one of three people, each an hour away, to go from. I thank you for reading my thoughts. I appreciate your own however, much more.

Thank you
 

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We are creatures of this planet and we are allowed to "live" here. The kind of farming and hunting your family did/does is what humans have been doing for millennia, and it's what many of us assumed was true here. I was similarly appalled when I saw Food Inc and then Earthlings, and I gave up meat immediately. The cruelty is unacceptable, and as a Christian, I see it as evil. The kind of evil I thought only existed in nightmares and horror movies.

My views have evolved since I became a vegetarian in January. I now don't believe there is any nutritional or health reason to consume meat, but that's just my opinion. I'm in Texas too and I've yet to convert any of my friends or family.
 

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I find your discription of your culture's attitude toward food and the concept of "Wehi" very interesting and inspirational. I believe that those who live in more "industrialised cultures like myself have lost touch with the real world. I am often also disturbed by things that are done in the name of profit that don't relate to food, for example destroying a beautiful, natural area full of trees and wild native plants and animals just to build a few mutli-million dollar luxury homes that very few could afford; and is against the wishes of the majority in the community. That is being done in my neighborhood right now. Or, cutting down a tree just because it placement is a little bit inconvienient. How ever I am one who would never be able to eat meat again under any circumstances.
 

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Your post is very insightful. I found the part where you spoke of vegetarians wanting to be guilt-free dry interesting. I think that becoming vegetarian or vegan feels great and "cruelty-free", but in regards to plants, it is not guilt-free, the guilt is just reduced. I think becoming vegetarian makes one more aware of their guilt as well. As an omnivore, I think I did feel some guilt about eating animals because I've loved animals my whole life, but I ignored my guilt, and it was deep down and I rarely acknowledged its existence. Now, I do feel guilt from eating plants, for I know they are living things, and even if they are required for survival, I still respect them and am grateful for them. I also am aware of guilt from the 15 years that I ate animals, and I don't think it will ever go away. However, I'm able to channel the guilt I feel into inspiration to never eat animals or steal their products again. Also, even though I'm more aware of guilt as a vegan than an omnivore, I'm also aware of the lack of guilt I can feel. For example, if I'm going to the store and look outside and see a cow at one of the many dairy farms in my city, I can actually look at that animal and appreciate it and pity it. Though I loved animals, I really believed everything I was expected to believe growing up, that farm animals are unintelligent, insignificant, and deserve no acknowledgement from us, but now I can see it differently because I've moved past seeing it as meat or milk.
 

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Taven, I really appreciate your thoughts here. They bring a new perspective to many of us that we might not have foreseen.

My great grandfathers ran farms much like you described, raising crops and animals for their own survival, with great love and care given to every plant and every cow. I wish I could have known them when they were still running those farms. Sadly, by the time I can along, one was dead and the other was in a nursing home. The United States is a mere shadow of what it once was, in regards to farming. Now it is an industry, and that hurts me deeply. For that reason, I became vegetarian. My husband and I live in a metropolitan area, where any meat must be trucked in from far away, and I know all too well how it was treated before it passed on. If I could see my animals myself, see how they were treated every day, and kill it myself, I MIGHT think differently. Although, I doubt, even then, that I would have the strength to harm a living thing.

I especially appreciate your explanation about even plants being stolen from in order to live. I mean no offense to any vegetarians or vegans here, (or anywhere else) but even if we eat no meat, living things still die in order for us to live. Sometimes we forget that.

Thank you so much for sharing. If you have the time, I recommend you try reading a few novels by Wendell Berry. He wrote a great deal about the world turning away from farming and towards industry, both in poetry and prose. I think you will find him insightful and uplifting.
 

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I think only the most deluded veg*ns think their diet is cruelty free, or saves animals. It prevents animals from being born in order to suffer, it doesn't "save" animals in any sense of the word. And creatures are often injured by harvesting practices. It's all about reducing the damage.
 
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