Blast from the Past, Part 1

“Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us pause to reconsider the miserable life of the pig—an animal easily as intelligent as a dog—that becomes a Christmas ham.”

-Michael Pollan in The New York Times Magazine, 11/10/02

pamphlet cover photo 768x1024

Someone on campus handed me this pamphlet during the first week of school this semester.  It’s the same as one that I got two years ago, one that played a big role in my becoming vegetarian.  And I had completely forgotten about it!

The pamphlet two years ago could not have come at a more opportune time.  I had been reading some books about consciousness, like I Am a Strange Loop, and had recently seen the movie-version of Fast Food Nation. I had no intention of becoming vegetarian at the time; it really was coincidental that I was exposed simultaneously to so many ideas to make me think twice about eating animals.

pamphlet inside photo 300x225I got the pamphlet and quickly leafed through it.  This is the point when I throw most of this stuff away—I figure it doesn’t hurt to at least look at whatever someone feels strongly enough about to stand there and hand out, but it’s almost always worthless to me.  With this one though, I couldn’t bring myself to toss it.  I wanted to bring it home to show Erin, and to be able to look through it again.  It made me feel horrible about the way I ate.  And in some strange way, I was happy that it made me feel so bad.

Looking back at it, the seed must have already been planted before I got the pamphlet.  The graphic photos of animal abuse in some factory I’ll never see in person are not that different from promises of fire and brimstone in the religious pamphlets that do so little to move me.  But even when I consciously decided to keep eating meat since I thought I couldn’t run marathons without it, the images of chickens being debeaked kept coming back to me and it all felt very wrong.  Within a few weeks of getting the pamphlet, I made my first attempt at becoming vegetarian.

That first attempt didn’t last, though it did result in my giving up red meat for a year.  It took some more leverage, in the form of becoming convinced that I’d be healthier (not less healthy, as I initially thought) if I were to stop eating animals.  Armed with this knowledge, I was finally able to make the big change that has done so much for my health and outlook over the past six, almost seven, months.

I hope this doesn’t come off as preaching.  If you read this blog, then you probably aren’t someone I need to preach to anyway—you’re informed about what you eat, at the very least.  But being handed this pamphlet again, this pamphlet with gory images and an unbefittingly modest goal of getting people to just eat less meat, made me very happy to look back on the past six months and know that I now eat the way I wanted to so badly back when I first read it.  And to me, that’s something worth sharing.

Blast from the Past, Part 2 tomorrow!  And it’s about running, so you have my personal guarantee that you will see NO chickens being debeaked! icon smile

[Update: It turns out the booklet was distributed by Vegan Outreach, who saw my post and included it in their newsletter.  They exist to end cruelty to animals, so check out their site!]

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Comments

  1. While I am usually pretty anti the ‘in your face’ style of some facets of the vegetarian movement, it is honestly because the images are just so disturbing! Which is the point, obviously. Anyhow, I always tell my friends (if they let me preach, haha) that if they just ate HALF the meat they do now, they would be doing a HUGE service to the environment. I think that many people legitimately won’t ever go vegetarian, so I feel that meeting them halfway is better than nothing!
    .-= Allie Katie´s last blog ..Switching it up this week! =-.

  2. I’d really like to be completely meat free (including poultry) but it’s difficult when your better half isn’t meat free too. But when I eat chicken or turkey I always think that this was once a living creature and I really can’t ever feel quite comfortable about it.

    • If you are craving meat then you aren’t eating well enough. Try eating more whole fresh foods and see if that makes a difference. Using your significant other as a scape-goat for your wanting to indulge in meat or dairy is not very forthcoming either. Be a leader and a good example.

  3. You have made a lot of healthy changes and have so much to be proud of!
    Everyone who eats meat should be required to see the abuse and cruelty of factory farming. Then maybe something would change. Unfortunately most meat eaters don’t know and don’t want to know where their food comes from.
    .-= meatlessmama´s last blog ..Healthcare Reform Is Not About Health =-.

  4. ugh…totally hear you on this one. I had to take a safety engineering class in college and we watched a lot of GRAPHIC videos about the meat packing industry. It helped me to move to eating less meat. I have now given up all land based meat and eat fish and shrimp only every great once in a while now.
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..Flat Out Fold Its & Goals =-.

  5. I couldn’t agree with you more. It started off with a video, then a book and then I just couldn’t eat any meat without picturing that animal being cruelly killed in a factory farm.

    I’ve read tons of books (you should check out Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment Inside the US Meat Industry), watched lots of documentaries (highly recommend Food, Inc. – its not just a case against meat) and so my vegetarianism doesn’t just stop at eating animal products. I’ve made a shift in the products I purchase (lotions, shampoos, etc.) and I’ve given up buying leather goods.

    I love this blog because you demonstrate that being meat-free doesn’t mean that you aren’t strong and healthy. I get asked all the time how I get protein or if I’m feeling a little tired how it must be my diet. Yarg!
    .-= CharmCityKim´s last blog ..Affection =-.

  6. Laura M...ski says:

    things like that pamphlet reinforce my desire to go entirely organic and local for meats, as well as veggies. i’d love to stop supporting the “food factories” we have in the States.

    i passed a farm up in Darlington over the weekend that sold cows by whole or half, and i’m trying to get the other half interested in buying our beef this way. we have the freezer space, and not only is it healthier for us, it’s healthier for the cow. next winter we’ll be hunting, so the plan is to switch to venison instead of beef when we can bring home our own.

    i’d love to keep chickens but Baltimore only allows 2 or 3 chickens at a residence unless it’s labeled a farm (and grandfathered in). we eat far too much chicken to justify keeping them for consumption (though the eggs would be nice!).

  7. I watched Fast Food Nation when it came out and only recently read the book and I really have to recommend it. It’s a really interesting and disturbing read but much more informative then the movie.
    I (kind of like you) went vegetarian on a whim last year after watching a documentary. It amazes me how something I was ‘just gonna try’ has turned into me becoming a vegan.
    I think you’re blog is great and it really helps people who are thinking about trying vegetarianism, it shows what some people go through when they are transitioning and confirms the fact that it’s not an impossible feat :)

  8. :(
    this kind of stuff makes me feel so awful
    i wish it wasnt like that
    i hate that they treat animals like they are food while they are still living

    i tried being veg for over a year, but i developed too many health problems, so i had to switch back to eating meat. i try not to think about this stuff, but it is the reality. i wish i had enough money to only buy free range meat … sigh

    it is all just a really crappy situation

  9. i don’t eat a lot of meat anyway, pretty much only ’cause i know i need the protein. i do get the ‘grossed out’ thoughts in my head about it sometimes, but i can’t have soy/nuts/beans, so i have to keep a little in my diet. (a little = not even everyday)
    .-= lindsay´s last blog ..drowning =-.

  10. I switched to a predominantly plant-based diet for MY health, but have since become very concerned about the well being of animals too. Even if animals are kept humanely and in ideal circumstances, I don’t like that they have to be killed so that I can be indulged. I still have meat on rare occasions, but I am working towards escaping that particular pleasure-trap.
    .-= Hanlie´s last blog ..Green Smoothie Do’s and Don’ts =-.

  11. What a nice reminder that pamphlet was for you! I like getting things like that because they make me stop and think.

    There’s lots of ways that we can help the environment, animals, people, the world… and this is one way.
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Day 15 of the Vegan Challenge =-.

  12. I am so glad I don’t eat meat:)
    .-= Maria´s last blog ..Recipe for Homemade Yogurt =-.

  13. Wow…Make me really happy I haven’t eaten meat in many years! Thanks for sharing.

  14. Aww…poor chickens. I’ve been cutting back on my meat consumption lately. I try to limit myself to having meat only once a day at most.
    .-= Paige (Running Around Normal)´s last blog ..Tendinitis, Be Afraid. =-.

  15. skinny bitch is what did it for me!
    .-= caitlin´s last blog ..I Have a Confession =-.

  16. If you think you need meat, see this:
    http://veganhealth.org/articles/realveganchildren
    Especially Ellen. :-)

  17. Ooh, the pamphlets are always too gory for me to look at now. Makes me cry! What set me over the edge was the movie Babe. (yes, really) When they drug the momma pig off to slaughter and poor little piglet Babe cried, “I want my mom!” I lost it and knew I could never eat meat again. No lie. I know pigs can’t talk (duh) but it really hit home that it was KILLING something living. I never turned back! Thanks for helping spread the word!
    .-= That Pink Girl´s last blog ..Oh sun, where’d ya go? =-.

  18. Joe Espinosa says:

    Matt,
    Thanks for including this important topic. I have taken the plight of farmed animals to over 200,000 students so far, and have another 800,000 to get before I die. This and the full time job and weight lifting all fueled by a vegan diet.
    Joe

  19. had been a lacto ovo veggie for 25 years with grillrf fish when we went out Thought of myself as a great humanitarian. WEnt to my last peta event in november and whenever i see ingrid I cry Its like seeing a gham
    ndi or chavez or buddah an enlightened person and when i spontaneously start to cru its because i’m awake at that moment, and totally connected to my true swlf Became vegan except for going to starbucks and having non fat lattes already gave up leather but after seeing food inc and seeing every time i purchase any animal byproduct i’m voting for sustyaining that horrible sysem No more, no guilt, now just guilt about feeling angry and resentful towards people who you tell and can back up with sound nutritional info and they say they don,t feel full or they work too hard for a living please let mr rnjoy my meal My broad world is getting smaller and smaller but my vegan wold id filled with likr minded people so no matter how tragic the topic being with people who you fel safe and loved by and dont have to explain or defend your lifestyle to id awesome I am so thankful to know i am not the only one that crys, the only onr that makes sacrifices with food tastes and clothes choices}all just desire ans desire is impulse based so as no’S PILE UP BACK TO BACK DESIRES WAIN HOW DO YOU THINK ALCOHOLICS DO IT? ABstinence isn”t the easiest way of life but the only way worth living NIghtly i pray for all the sufferung animals so that they knoe they”re not sufferingt alone Okay enough lomg livr all vegans and raw foodists and may they have the joy of walking with the animals not wearing them love all of you for allowing yourself to be open to possibilities Just keep coming and reading and seeing and the mind even tually follows peace Lana
    .-= lana´s last blog ..Cleared After Years in Prison =-.

  20. This is probably the best place to find inspiration to become a vegan. I have long been a meat eater, and now I am moved to become a vegetarian, and maybe a vegan . I don’t want to eat meat, and I will do my best not to.

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