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Transformation of a hardcore meat-eater: Part 2

While I have explained the process of how I embraced the WFPB diet based on its unambiguous health benefits in my previous blog, here I intend to focus on another key driver that played an equally important role, in helping me make that transformation.

The ethical perspective

It was in January 2015. We had just moved into our newly built farm house at the Savera Farm and had arranged for a house warming party for the neighbours in the village. I had booked some pork for the party and had gone early to collect it. When we reached the shop at around 9AM it was just opening. So, I, along with some other early birds, was waiting outside the shop. That is when I heard the heart wrenching shrieks, deep from the gut, from a pig from the back of the shop. I thought that the butcher was in the process of slaughtering that animal and hence the cries. But the cries went on and on for quite some time and were very disturbing to say the least. I had a terrible feeling but decided to look at the back to see what was happening. It was then that I realised that the cries were coming not from the animal being slaughtered (which was long dead), but from another pig, a witness to the slaughter, who must have been its companion. Obviously, it had realised what was happening, was very disturbed by it and was crying it’s heart out. While I did buy the meat and leave the shop soon after that, I just couldn’t get those cries out of my mind. That episode left a deep mark on me and got me thinking on the whole issue of cruelty involved in the whole process of non-veg food.

The Vipassana angle

Here I must confess that the seed of non-violence towards any living being as a sacred goal, was first planted in me in a vipassana meditation course which I attended in 2012. It did raise serious questions in my mind on the issue of non-veg food and I even kept away from it for some time after that; before relapsing back to my deeply entrenched food habits. So, when the above episode happened, it brought to the fore all those disturbing questions which had remained dormant in my mind.

The ‘Dominion’ effect

However, if there was still some doubt in my mind on the ethical questions involved in eating meat-fish, it was conclusively answered and closed once I watched the ‘Dominion’ documentary. The documentary filmed using secret cameras in Australia is extremely shocking and disturbing to say the least. It graphically depicts the extremely unspeakable, unthinkable and totally inhuman real-life cruelty involved in the entire lifecycle – from birth to slaughter – of modern industrial animal farming.

While the documentary is shot in Australia, it is typical of the reality involved in this industry across the world. Its precisely because of this, that the vested interests have been trying their level best to discredit, intimidate and restrict the reach of this documentary. But once you watch the documentary, it affects you so deeply and so badly that there is no turning back. Here I must confess that it was so disturbing that I just couldn’t watch the entire documentary and stopped watching half way through.

In any case it proved to be the final nail in the coffin of non-veg food. It’s simply not possible to have any desire for such food after watching the terrible reality of the inhumanity and cruelty involved in the process of producing it.

Modern meat shop vs butcher shop

Today most of the urban consumers buy their meat-fish from either supermarket shelves or the modern ‘hygienic’ meat shops that have sprung up across the country, instead of going to the ‘dirty’ butcher shop with dripping blood and flies all around. Why is this even relevant, you may ask?

The truth is that these sanitised, ‘hygienic’, ‘modern’ buying experiences shield you from the terrible reality behind the chicken legs-wings or mutton chops or pork ribs displayed neatly on fancy glass shelves. Earlier when we used to go to the local butcher shop to buy meat, every time we were confronted with the grim reality of killing-blood-cruelty-cries, which we simply couldn’t avoid.

Here the pieces of meat are reduced to mere objects of consumption in a vacuum and not parts of a living animal. That is why even a kid who would cuddle a baby goat or chick or piglet as cute and lovable and wouldn’t tolerate the slightest harm coming to it; or a person who would rush an injured stray animal to the vet with tears in his/her eyes – would without even batting an eyelid buy the legs or wings or ribs of that very animal displayed in the glass shelf and relish it while eating sayings its tender and tasty, without feeling any guilt or without thinking that there is a serious contradiction between the two behaviour patterns.

Essentially these so-called modern technology-driven experiences shield us from the grim reality involved, dehumanise us and make us insensitive to the consequences of our actions.

But I am not a Vegan

Veganism as we know, is driven entirely based on the ethical and political issues involved in using any products originating from animals or tested on animals, considering the animal cruelty involved in the entire process. While I fully agree with this perspective and do not consume any animal products, I need to point out that the diet I am following is WFPB and not Vegan. What’s the difference?

While the first part of the diet is same in both cases, that is its plant based and not animal based, the similarity ends here. As Veganism arose entirely from an ethical perspective and not health perspective, it doesn’t stop processed foods if they are plant based. Hence Vegans may consume white sugar, table salt, oils, deep fried stuff, chocolates, biscuits, pastries and other processed foods – as long as they don’t contain any animal products. Tons of research available today clearly tells us that such processed foods, even when they are plant based, are very dangerous and harmful to our health and are responsible for several modern diseases.

The focus on whole foods (i.e. unprocessed or minimally processed plant foods) is missing and hence a vegan diet may not necessarily provide the health benefits or prevent the health problems associated with modern diet. It’s critical that we lay equal emphasis on the plant based and whole foods to reap the full health benefits as is done in WFPB diet.

Having said that, I have to admit that the ethical perspective has greatly helped me strengthen my resolve not to consume animal foods and has actually made me abhor meat consumption in any form.

I strongly urge you to watch the Dominion documentary even if you are not a meat eater.

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