Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it. - Danny Kaye

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Am I a Hypocrite?

On many occasions over the past few years I have found myself in situations where I stop and say “I should be a vegetarian” or “this makes me want to be a vegetarian”. Normally I’m not catching myself saying this whilst eating meat or preparing meat (as I haven’t changed my eating habits to vegetarianism just yet) but I have said this from time-to-time and decided to do a search on PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) since the circus just came to town (literally, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey has come to Columbia). I know you’re probably thinking…wow, where’s this going, but I think there are some things I have to sort out in my mind so I can live a life I feel comfortable with.

Ringling Bros Tiger
via Google images - does this really look like something you or your child would want to come face-to-face with?

Ringling Bros Elephants
via Google images - that's right...elephants LOVE to dance and entertain!

via Google images - are clowns really cool anymore?  I think some people would agree they are not...

elephants performing
via Google images - a true photo from a RB and B&B production

When I was a child my parents took my sisters and me to the circus…only once I think, or so I can remember. I believe I enjoyed my trip to see the wild animals dressed in ballet clothes, dance on their hind legs, amuse myself with the acrobats and “carnies” (oops, is that politically incorrect?), but as I’ve gotten older I think I’ve taken a newfound disrespect for this “greatest show on earth” (more on that in a minute…). In high school I remember friends of mine being involved in the local chapter of PETA (Greenville) and when Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey came to town my junior year of high school I went up to the Bi-Lo Center to “support” them as they gave out fliers and held up posters of animal cruelty and ‘badgered’ (if you will) the families and children walking in to attend the show. That was my introduction to animal cruelty and the older I’ve gotten the more I’ve gone back and forth in trying to educate myself on the topic (as well as the meat industry)…sometimes wanting to know more and sometimes trying to shun the ideas from my mind so as to enjoy life without the consequences of over-thinking or over-caring…wow, it can be exhausting.

elephant in chains 1
via blog

elephant in chains 2
via blog

elephant in chains 3
via blog
So here I am almost 30 years into life (or should I say about 12 years after my ‘intro’ to animal cruelty) and I’m contemplating my decisions…yet again. Vegetarianism or Meat Eater? Why is this so hard? Am I a Hypocrite? I don’t like to ‘preach’ ideas and then not live by my own rules nor do I try to be overly-bearing when it comes to religion, politics, the environment or public education...all things that stir up conversation amongst people these days, but I’m finding it hard to find my own ‘middle ground’. I don’t want to educate myself on animal cruelty, get tears in my eyes when reading about slaughterhouses and then turn around to order a steak the next day…that’s when I anger myself for the fact that I say one thing and then do another…not the way I truly want to live my life. There are people who preach on both sides…the ones who think more liberally and then the ones who think animals don’t have feelings or know what’s happening to them…I think I’m slightly a little of both, but more so on the liberal side where I actually do think animals not only have feelings but can sense fear. I don’t want my meals to come from a situation where animals are beaten, killed piece by piece (hate to be so direct, but it’s true) or where the food is bad or has come from an unsanitary location…so I guess this is the turning point in my life when I can face my fear of “change” or choosing the other option…and try out vegetarianism. I have read some on PETA’s website and it’s not only an organization that provides information on the meat industry but it also provides positive and informative information on the health benefits of eating (or choosing) vegetables over meat as well as supporting other organizations that care for animals around the world.

So back to my association with the circus and the meat industry, I’ve just had a very difficult time over the past few years thinking about animals put into unnatural situations…and I’m not talking about pets in a home or animals in a zoo (which provides some sort of natural habitat for them)…I’m talking about wild animals that originated from other countries and even other continents that are taken out of their normal habitat to perform shows for humans in an arena…not to mention right in the presence of small children…really, does this make sense? I’m sure I’ll have a few readers (if I have readers each time I write?) that may disagree with my content in this post, but it’s something I’ve felt more and more strongly about…something I think I’ve come to disagree completely with. I will not be at the Carolina Coliseum this weekend in Columbia supporting the self-proclaimed “greatest show on earth” nor will I be outside the doors shunning families from going in, but it’s something to think about. I hate to already decide this so early but I don’t believe I’ll take my children (one day) to a circus where I put them in (possibly) harm’s way. It’s just not something I’m comfortable with any longer.

So if I don’t support the circus and the ideals it displays, wouldn’t you think I’d made my decision about the meat industry and vegetarianism? I don’t think I’ve officially “switched” to that lifestyle (just being honest) but it’s definitely something I’m willing to try… With that being said, I plan to do a ‘trial run’ of living a vegetarian lifestyle for 30 days and have requested a FREE vegetarian/vegan lifestyle book. Not only will it be a new and insightful experience, but I think it will also be slightly challenging since my husband eats meat and we cook dinners together. But it’s something I think I can put my heart and mind to and see where it takes me. I believe I have more education ahead of me and lots and lots of thinking, but it will give me something worthwhile to do in my life and hopefully save a few hundred animals along the way…if nothing else, that will make me happy.

vegan kit book
So here’s to all you vegetarians out there who are already saving the lives of hundreds of animals every day…you are an inspiration!



Chase Irons said...

You bring up some very valid arguments, Meredith, and I struggle with the same thoughts some times. Let me know how this 30 Day Trial goes!

Liz Bridges said...

WHOA! That is HUGE! 30 days of being a vegetarian! I wish I could do it with you, but I know I would cave! I can't wait to hear about this month! Have you started yet?

Ellen said...

How ironic!? Last night you were writing this post and last night I had a similar conversation with Jack. I found an old yoga book that I had in the attic (actually Jack found it for know I don't like attics :)). I was looking for a fitness book, trying to come up with a new nurtitional plan and I started reading this yoga book instead. An entire section is dedicated to the benefits of vegetarianism...I was very intrigued by the health benefits and cost benefits (salmon and steak aren't the cheapest items on my grocery receipt, that's for sure)! I may try to incorporate some vegetarian meals into my diet to see if it makes a difference in my fitness goals. If you need some encouragement during these next 30 days watch FoodInc. And, if you're curious about circus life, a great fictional book that's one of my favorites(about to be released in theaters) is Water for Elephants. Can't wait to hear how the vegetarian diet is going!

Ashley Rodgers said...

I find myself having the same back and forth about the circus and treatment of animals...this after a trip 3 years ago to the 'greatest show on earth' in town. Yes I was entertained but something in the back of my head when it came to the animals performing just didn't sit right. Honestly I felt bad that I paid money to support this.

It's funny that you wrote this post bc someone at work just said something the other day about being stopped by the circus train and it made me think about how the animals were chained inside the carts for hours on end. It is cruel and made me sad.

You are definitely not the only one that has a back and forth inside your head about how you feel on the subject and wondering if you are a hypocrite...oh and don't even get me started on the seals at the fair!! ;) - Ashley

Sarah Jo Beasley said...

Hey Meredith! I went out to eat last night with Rebecca and she told me about this blogpost. My new year's resolution this year was to be a vegetarian for at least a year! One month into it I can say it's pretty easy for me. It's been fun trying to find alternatives to eating meat. I really don't miss it at all and find I feel better. My sister Hannah has been a vegetarian now for over a year and says she feels great. Good luck with your 30 day trial! I'm anxious to see how it goes!

Charity said...

I'm such a hypocrite! I have no desire to stop eating meat, but I don't support cruelty to animals either, obviously. You probably won't see me attempting the vegetarian route, but I completely respect you for it, Meredith! Good luck and keep us posted on how it's going... AND how your husband is doing with the transition of the dinner menu this month! haha

Meredith Jewell said...

Thanks for all the supportive comments and for your own thoughts on the subject! I appreciate it and look forward to giving you all updates as I start and take on my 30-day challenge. I hope to find more education on the subject for myself along the way to help me decide what's best for me going forward.

Kate said...

This is wild, Mer! We should check in with each other to share good ideas, recipes, and encouragement!

You know what they say about great minds!