Why I'm a vegetarian

I don't get it...it should be the other way around! I'm not the one taking another being's life for my apparent survival or enjoyment. I should be the one saying: how dare you! And yet, as strange as it sounds, I feel like I have to apologize for being a vegetarian. It seems to put people out. I find myself constantly justifying or explaining why I'm a vegetarian.

I was at a dinner party at a great Greek restaurant the other night, and when I told the waiter to surprise me and put together a good vegetarian plate, he came back 20 minutes later telling me: I don't know what to do. Every time that I go out for dinner, saying I'm a vegetarian is like saying I'm from Mars.

Ok, so I'll say it again: why I'm a vegetarian:

Simply put, it's because I love life. I believe that every living being has a right to be here, and I have no right or desire to end someone else's life for my own purposes, whatever they may be. But if you want to know the long version, here it is.

When I was a child, I played with chickens. When I realized that people ate chicken, I was revolted and refused to eat it. Rabbits were "Bugs Bunny" to me, my favorite character of all time, so I couldn't possibly imagine eating him either. Everything else did not have a personality to me, so I didn't really think about it. However, I never really liked the taste of meat. It was always a struggle to make me eat it, and the worst part was that, because I have a form of hereditary anemia called Thalassemia, the doctor always encouraged my parents to feed me meat. Dinner time was not always pleasant because we constantly fought over it since I disliked it so much.

Disliking the taste is one thing, but then one day I read a book called "Chère Michelle" (Dear Michelle). The book is a collection of letters from a dear old uncle to his young niece, and each letter deals with a different aspect of life. When I read about how animals feel in the slaughterhouse and how their feelings are absorbed by every part of their body, and then in turn absorbed by the one who eats it, I decided right at that moment that I would never eat meat again. At that moment, I realized that I had no more right to eat an animal than I had a right to kill and eat a human.

I heard a great joke once: a guy goes to a friend's house for the first time and sees a deer's head mounted on a wall. He asks his friend what that's all about, and the friend replies: "well, it's because I love deer". To which the guy said, "Well, I love my wife, but I'd never mount her on a wall".

I remember when I told my family that I was becoming a vegetarian. For the longest time, they didn't believe me. They thought I'd slip and have a little piece of something. I never did. As far as I'm concerned, meat is not on the menu. When I see a piece of meat on a plate, I don't see sustenance, I see cruelty and death. There's always that sick joke that comes to mind: two cannibals are having dinner. The first one says "I hate my mother-in-law" so the other one answers: "well then, push her aside and just have the noodles".

I used to hate cooking. The best way to get me completely turned off was to ask me to cook something that required meat. The very thought kept me away from the kitchen for years! Now, I love to cook...I love trying out new recipes and being totally creative with food. And I have to admit, that although nothing turns out exactly the same way twice, I'm a pretty good cook!

If you've ever had a pet or know someone who has a pet, you know that animals have feelings and distinct personalities. Once you live with an animal, you know that it definitely has a life and a way of its own. Cats, dogs, rabbits, chickens, cows, sheep, pigs...they're all individual. They're not parts on an assembly line...pieces of machinery or cloth or plastic...they are flesh and blood, like you. They have mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers...yes, they have feeling. Have you ever tried picking up a kitten from a litter when the mother cat is around? Can you imagine taking a calf from a cow? Do you think her heart-wrenching cries are fake?

I've changed since I'm a vegetarian. Maybe it comes with age, but I'd say that I'm more rational, compassionate and sympathetic overall. My temper is more controlled, and I don't fly off the handle at the drop of a hat anymore. Maybe not feeling guilty for the suffering and death of other beings will do that to you. 

Did you know that Jesus was a vegetarian? Scholars have written about it in many books. It doesn't surprise me. I can't imagine him any other way. As the greatest teacher of love and compassion, Jesus would certainly not advocate or participate in the cruelty and slaughter of his fellow creatures. It just never seemed possible to me.

Leonardo Da Vinci said: "There will come a day when people will realize that killing an animal for food is like killing a human for food. When people realize this, they will stop eating meat, and the world will be a better place".

More people than you imagine are vegetarian for the same reasons as me. Perhaps you would like to read some famous quotes.

Oh, and one more thing: I don't understand the vegetarians who eat poultry, fish and seafood. Can someone please explain that to me?

Well, I'll leave you with those thoughts, but I'm sure this is not the last you'll hear about this subject. Every day, there's a new reason why we shouldn't eat one thing or another. Meat has been in the news much more than it has been in the past, and its link to deadly diseases has finally caught the public's attention. Be careful: you don't know what you're eating...because you don't know what the one you're eating was fed.

Wishing only well,

Carmen Colombo
March 1998


Jesus was a vegetarian

Jesus was a vegetarian - The Essenes website

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