When I was little I felt a need to join the Brownies. A lot of other girls in my class were Brownies and they seemed to have fun there; the whole ‘belonging to a club’ thing made me yearn for something I clearly didn’t feel I was getting anywhere else – least of all at home.
And so I was allowed to sign up and walked to the place where the meetings were held. But even before I’d opened the doors to go inside, I’d held back to wait and see who was actually ‘in the gang’ – to judge I guess, if I felt I’d fit in and if any of the other girls might like me.
I watched as confident, cheerful, ponytail -swinging girls bounced through and into the hall with their friends; I watched other girls being hugged and kissed goodbye by their mothers, and I saw in these brown-uniformed girls, a little niche that made me feel uncomfortable although I couldn’t exactly say why. I went back home without even speaking to anybody and my parents just laughed at another of my ‘silly ideas’ gone sour.
During these formative years (and they’re called formative for a reason) we were given, at school, little books to take home in order to ‘sell’ pictures of smiling children in third world countries to relatives and friends at home; to help raise money for their terrible plight of poverty and starvation to help ease their suffering. And we didn’t question this. I can still remember the children’s faces in the books that I used to flip through to ‘choose’ which one looked the happiest and prettiest that I could ‘buy’ for myself before I handed it around to everyone else. I wasn’t sure precisely how my penny per picture was going to really help, in the grand scheme of things, but if the teachers and grown ups said this would help, then why would I challenge a perfectly good idea, and who was I to disbelieve anyway?
Equally, when Bob Geldof and Midge Ure took to the stage in 1984 to help raise awareness and money (“GIVE OS ALL YER MONEY”) for the starving millions in Africa, I tuned in, thrilled to be part of this monumental feat to help rid the world of poverty. Such a great cause, and such a bloody brilliant event. I gave money, sat back with my crisps and coke and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
But there was this little niggle of concern at the back of my 22-year old brain which begged the question “How come they’re still starving?”. Hadn’t they been starving all those years ago when I was little? What had happened to all the money we’d raised all those years ago and why (something I could never get my head around) were they STILL having babies in these countries, if all the babies did was starve and die?
Comic Relief muscled in; Band Aid released a single; Children In Need sent some of the money they raised to help the children in struggling third world countries – I donated each and every time, although every time one of these ‘gigs’ was announced, I was becoming more and more aware that however much money ANYBODY donated, it didn’t seem to be making any difference – the poverty and starvation remained.
Now, I’m not knocking ANY of these institutions and organisations because they are doing something worthwhile in raising both awareness and much-needed funds for these poor people, but what I have finally… finally – because now there is Google, the great Internet highway, and the information’ the TRUTH, Mulder, is OUT THERE for anyone to see… discovered that the real reason these countries are suffering is because of the unending human ‘condition’ that says we can kill and eat any damn thing we feel like killing and eating or rather paying somebody else to kill on our behalf to satisfy our desire to eat the flesh of innocent, frightened and abused sentient creatures.
(This is the point at which ‘animal-loving-carnivores’ – now there’s a mixed-up human being – will stop reading this because of the ‘meat is murder’ connotations it evokes – and that’s fine; actually it’s better than fine, because that means they’re feeling the guilt and the shame, and they can’t read on because they know in their heart of hearts that every time they buy a slab of red flesh, that their moral conscience is being brought into question.) But bear with me, because not only do Vegans NOT believe in killing animals to eat them, we – above ALL ELSE – don’t believe in killing innocent human beings in order to feed animals the food that starving people could be, SHOULD BE eating, to stay alive. And should have been doing for decades.
This is the true meaning of that Meat is Murder slogan – it’s the lives of these people; of millions and millions of children that’re being allowed to die, simply because the rest of the world – the thriving world, have decided they’d like to wipe out half the verdant land on our planet (including the wildlife which inhabits this space – yes, their homes) in order to grow crops to feed the livestock that we kill to then to eat. It sounds like something HG Wells might’ve made up: a planet of (supposedly) intelligent lifeform like us, actually destroying the land we live on, in order to eat something we’ve grown up believing is our right to have. It’s madness. It’s not only madness, it’s actual murder whichever way you choose to try and look at it.
The water we decide to give to the poor animals that will be slaughtered for our benefit (benefit? Come on – have you READ the cancer/heart failure stats of meat-eaters?) is water that should be saving these people’s lives – they have a right to live – it’s not our right to decide who to kill and who to let survive. We’re not God. This is another extension of the cruelty to animals that you don’t see and hear being advertised – it’s just that the animals here are FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS. Our fellow human beings. Mine and Yours.
So these are the facts that nobody tells us. We’ve grown up believing that eating meat is ‘normal’; drinking the milk meant solely for the babies of other animals is ‘normal’ because our parents did it; because our grandparents did it, and because nobody (least of all children) disputes or disagrees with what the grown-ups in our world tell and show us during our Formative Years (yes – those years during which we are truly formed as human beings). Because we never asked ‘WHY?’ or ‘HOW?’ or ‘WHY NOT?’ We just blindly accepted what we were told; in fact to have done otherwise might have seemed disrespectful.
It doesn’t matter who’s to blame – perhaps the massive food manufacturing corporations who continue to bang on about the health benefits of eating dead animals and dairy products even though every cell in a human body screams “NO!” which is why food intolerances abound in our society today – because pointing a finger never achieves anything; it just creates animosity and there’s enough of that in the world already. All it takes is for one person to tell another (in my case, my beautiful, www-friendly daughter who had intelligence enough to question what she was putting in her mouth and discovering for herself what this might mean to other beings) and for that one other person to show another what’s happening, and then things start to change for the better, as Saint Mother Theresa said: “one step at a time”.
I want my grandchildren and their grandchildren to know that I respected and loved all living creatures I was fortunate enough to share a planet with all those years ago; and I was part of the change that’s meant they’re still going strong and haven’t been wiped out by man’s stupidity and selfishness.
It’s never too late to educate yourself and there’s never been an easier or better time to do it than now.
(For proper, incisive, factual facts, statistics and sources of real information, watch the amazing ‘Cowspiracy’ movie – produced by Leonardo Di Caprio).
Take a look at ‘Forks Over Knives’ too – for inspirational real life stories and everything else about eating a proper Human Being diet.
p.s. the ‘terribly British person’ in me is fighting the urge to tug my forelock right now, and apologise for being so vehemently passionate about what some consider such an inflammatory subject – but why and how could I apologise for not wanting to kill innocent creatures – both animals and humans?