I came into contact with the idea of vegetarianism at around age 14 when my brother’s fiancé at the time was one, though at that time I didn’t give it too much consideration but it did start me thinking that such a different perspective on life was completely valid. It wasn’t too much later that I learnt one of the main reasons people go vegetarian, that of the immense cruelty involved in meat production.
I learnt this initially from hardcore punk bands at the time such as Napalm Death, Conflict and others, whose song lyrics addressed the issue of meat being the flesh of sentient creatures packaged for our convenience. It seemed to make such perfect sense, and I was amazed actually that I had overlooked the fact that behind the various products of meat was the henious business that produced it: farm animals reared in confined situations, destined after being fattened up for a period of time to be cruelly slaughtered in abattoirs which resembled fearful factories of death such as Auschwitz, with blood stained walls and guts spilled out on the concrete floor.
Why hadn’t I been witness to this scene before? Why had neither schooling nor television not shared this reality with me, in order to allow me to make an informed choice at a time when I was really forming my own opinions for the first time in life? I understood later exactly why this was the case, yet at the time I was amazed to have discovered something most people seem either blind of indifferent to, almost as if a veil of illusion had been lifted to reveal what was to me so inherently wrong for anyone considering themselves human.
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