I was born into a proud vegetarian family, who have been veggies for generations. I loved eating various delicacies, amazing cuisines from different parts of the world, sumptuous meals cooked by two of the most beautiful women in the world: my mom and my grandma.
So, imagine my family’s surprise and my own, when I was introduced to non-vegetarian food when I turned 19. Things started taking a vicious turn after that, nothing remarkably bad…but, what started as a fad, slowly turned into a more poisonous addiction. I knew I was slowly losing myself to the allures of non-vegetarian food, and suddenly before I could even imagine, there used to be complete weeks when I would eat chicken, lunch and dinner. KFC became my second home, and my struggles to beat the meat and the fat (I had gained over 10kgs) sank without a trace.
I’ve become more controlled now, I can manage by eating chicken once or twice a week, not a great addiction, but an addiction nevertheless. I never believed in the cliched talks offered by vegetarians..”How can you kill animals for food?”, since the non-veggies immediately argue that all vegetarians are eating plants (which itself is a living being) that was primarily meant for animals.
I couldn’t even find the answers in religious texts, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam do not condemn killing animals if it is not for pleasure but for survival. Buddhism did offer me a different view, killing of any living being was forbidden, even the accidental killing of millions of bacteria around us. That I found to be another extreme.
It was at this confusing juncture that I came across 3 incidents that have truly changed my way of thinking.
(Graphic content. User discretion advised)
1. Bite of the Mango (Mariatu Kamara)
Reading the Bite of the Mango first set me thinking about the concepts of killing and death. Mariatu Kamara was twelve years old when she was caught up in the civil war in Sierra Leone. Most of her village was killed in a raid. Heavily armed soldiers, some no older than 12-year-old Mariatu herself, attacked her village, torturing her brutally and killing many of the people she loved. During this senseless violence, they cut off both her hands. She runs away and reaches a village, famished and fatigued. When they offer her a mango to eat, she realizes that she cannot even hold the mango in her hands. She cannot drink water from a stream nor wash her face since she no longer has hands.
Can you imagine someone cutting your own hands off? Can you even begin to visualize the pain that you will go through when your veins are spliced and blood gushes out? We scream in pain if a thorn pricks us. Imagine this pain. Imagine.
2. A dead dog on the highway to Pondicherry
I was travelling on a bike from Bangalore to Pondicherry when I noticed a horrendous sight. Yes, I have heard stories of accidents on roads and all of that, but, this scene made me cringe. A long, winding road was painted with blood and in the distance, I could make out the body of a dog. As we drove the bike closer and closer, we saw something much more horrific. The dog’s head had been completely quashed. Completely quashed. So completely quashed that it was stuck to the road. Imagine that one moment…when the dog faces impending death…imagine…how you would feel if you are facing death…how would you feel if you see someone you love…face quashed beyond measure? Imagine the pain.
3. Beheading of James Foley and Nick Berg
This was the major turning point. Early one morning, I logged in to FB to find the beheading of James Foley video going viral. I knew that it would be an unpleasant experience watching the video, but, I still gathered courage to watch it. I almost puked after watching the horrible incident. Other videos led me to the most horrific beheading ever on camera, that of Nick Berg, and I have a link to the video here: http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=2f30af0d52. Watch it only if you dare. But, I urge you…take a look. You will know how much of suffering there is.
Imagine, how it would be, to be beheaded? Imagine.
These three incidents changed my life. You might argue that you cannot find the connections between beheading of humans versus eating animals, but, all of you know how a chicken is killed. All of us know what happens to a fish, or a cow, or a goat…at the time of slaughter. Now, my question is….why show empathy to human beings and not animals? The pain is the same for a chicken or for a human being.
The world is an universal energy field. We are all from the same source, God. This world needs to be made better, and we can start by loving all living beings around us, humans, plants, animals…everything. One day, when I become a vegetarian completely, that day I will be the happiest…since the world will be a better place to live in. Let us all strive for harmony and love and peace in the world. God bless us all. :)