A year and two months ago, my Mum and I drove through torrential rain and wind and rain from Glasgow to Liverpool to collect a little light that would change my life forever: an 8 week old Cockapoo puppy that we called Millie. She looked like this:
Needless to say, I fell in love instantly. I grew up with a dog, a German Shepherd called lucky, who was the most obedient and patient animal you could ever meet. When she died when I was seventeen, I remember my mum saying that she would never get a pet again, for the grief when they die is too much. Of course, having grown up around animals, I never felt like a home is the same without one, and so along came Millie.
But this time, things would be different with Millie, because she’s mine, microchipped under my name. I raised her, I took her to puppy training, I walk her religiously, I taught her potty training, I spend hours playing with her toys and teaching her new tricks. I am so attached to this little fluffy bundle of absolute joy to the extent that I dislike the term dog ‘owner’, because she’s not a possession or a replaceable commodity. She’s another family member.
And so, the more I looked at Millie like a little person, the more I respected the cows and sheep in the fields we passed on our walks. On my walking routes, I routinely meet people and their dogs and have come to know their personalities and foibles. And to think, there are countries where it is the norm to eat these loyal, miraculous animals. Which begs the question… what’s the difference between dogs and a horse? Cow? Little baby lamb? Pig? The animals we eat daily are mammals, and have bonds with their young, and feelings, and survival instinct. They don’t want to die, and why should they? So we in the Western World can keep stuffing our faces and feed our ever growing waistlines? My point is, we no longer need meat to survive. In fact, in some parts of the world, the problem is going the opposite way; we are eating so much that we are literally killing ourselves. That’s why when some people make the argument; “But humans have been eating meat forever”, I think it’s obsolete because we ate it out of necessity, and not purely for choice.
These days, we are educated. We have choice. We know there are literally hundreds of alternative ways to include protein in our diets than meat. I gradually started cooking different recipes, and checking Peta’s website regularly for inspiration. Admittedly, Peta is aggressive in their approach to animal welfare, but I truly believe in their cause.
For now, I am pescetarian (I eat fish), and I decided to do this as a transitional stage between meat eater and veggie, knowing fine well that a cold turkey (excuse the pun) approach would only result in failure. It has been 2 months, and I am enjoying my new lifestyle. I am choosing not to wear leather, and I am researching cosmetics brands which do not test on animals. Sadly, it seems there are few. I am also looking to avoid wearing sweat-shop made clothes (Helllooo American Apparel), so can anyone recommend some good ethical clothes shops?
My most important point is that despite feeling strongly about eventually becoming vegetarian, I don’t think those who eat meat should be attacked for doing so. I have eaten meat and worn leather for 21 years of my life, and felt no previous need to change my diet. Why should anyone else?
Still, my reasons are my own. Woman’s best friend has not only enriched my life, but altered my way of thinking and perceiving animals and others. I feel like there’s a weight off my shoulders.