Lifestyle changes (NOT a diet!)

Hello sweet peas,

I'm one of these people who makes up my mind to do something then tells people about it to cement that commitment, and also because if something is important to me, I'm excited to talk about it.

I'm going to talk about animal abuse in this blog post, so please give it a miss if you're easily upset.

Cows in Cornwall, 2012

I posted this status on Facebook last night:

The older I get the more in tune I become with the world around me. Since Fibromyalgia and CFS have made me slow down and listen to my body and mind, I've noticed how being out in the countryside or being with animals heals me of the day to day crap and makes me feel grounded.

The more aware I become, the more the casual cruelty with which we treat animals seems wrong, and something I want no part of. Badger culls, the Tories trying to bring back fox hunting, bullfighting, dog meat festivals, the foul ivory and rhino horn trades, canned shoots in Africa for rich c*nts with more money than heart, mass dolphin slaughter, hunting for 'sport', it all sickens me to the core. I've always preferred animals to people - they're so pure and full of love - and this feeling is strengthened by every new layer of cruelty, every new way man must prove his dominance over the animal kingdom by destroying it. 

I have never understood the thought process behind 'What a majestic creature! Let's kill it.' Sometimes I feel like I'm made of glass and this world will crush me.

I watched a video a couple of days ago which a friend posted on Facebook. It was about cruelty in the dairy industry (this incident in particular in Canada) and I watched less than a minute of this video of hideous men jeering as they repeatedly hit cows with metal bars and strangled dairy cows and calves by hanging them on chains. I almost threw up, or passed out, or both. I'm crying as I write this, as I have done every time I've thought about that video since. I don't know if you have an opinion on cows, but I do. I had my first close encounter with them in Cornwall on my honeymoon 3 years ago. Before then I thought cows were as dumb as bricks, with no personality and thus I had no problem with the dairy industry. From that point on I've gone out of my way to lurk around cows as often as possible, often stopping by the side of country roads to stroke them, and they are cheeky and characterful. There's a moment when you talk softly to an animal so it knows you are no threat, and you look it in the eyes and realise there's this purity there which you don't often see. It's a gift only children, animals and rare souls have. It's unspoiled, just pure love.

After seeing that video yesterday I want no part of an industry which allows that kind of abuse to go on. When an animal is a means to an end, a food product, something made for humans to consume, some fucking psychopaths or serial-killers-in-training who work with them will not care that it has a soul, pain receptors, feelings etc. Of course many farmers will be humane and make sure their animals are treated with respect and kindness, but the fact is the industry exists and there will be a small percentage of people who will take advantage of that. Cows are highly social, intelligent animals who have best friends. Cows have been known to escape and travel miles in search of the calves they have removed from them (because of the veal industry.) They mourn friends who die and can get depressed. Does that sound like a creature who would shrug off being beaten with metal bars (if it's lucky enough to live another day)? No. Those animals will suffer deeply, mentally and physically. I want no part of that done in my name. I will not sit back and say I'm OK with that, because I'm not. Do I like cheese more than I care about the well-being of animals? Not any more. And you know, I really don't mind if other people feel differently about things to me. I can only live in a way that makes sense to me. I don't think any of my habits make me a better person than anyone else. I just want to look at myself in the mirror - really look - and think 'I'm finally being true to myself.'

Then I had a moment with little Mary the lamb at the rare breeds farm last month, and lamb was off the menu for good. How many more little incidents have to come to bear before I listen to the little voice inside me saying ENOUGH?

I was a vegetarian for about 6 years up until about 10 years ago, but prolonged ill health from being a shit vegetarian ended that. (I was in shared accommodation for years with little access to a kitchen so I ate shite most of the time.)  I've often put my unrest about this to the back of my mind, but every year as I've gotten older and learned more about myself the more I've felt a disconnect between my actions and my thoughts.

I'm not embracing full blown veganism, nor am I turning into a sanctimonious twat. Animals are important to me and I don't want to live in conflict any more. My aim is cutting out meat, eating some fish or seafood, having no dairy at all, and I still haven't decided how I feel about eggs. I have some meat products in the freezer to use up, and for the moment I'm concentrating on having vegan replacements for milk, cheese, butter etc. Once I've got to grips with that I'll start working out dairy products used in things like chocolate, baked goods, etc and I'll find alternatives for those. Eating out will be difficult, I'm sure, which is why I'm doing this in phases so I don't overwhelm myself. I hope I can find a happy medium between living a kinder life, and minimising any impact such big changes will have on my existing health issues.

Vegans, vegetarians and pescetarians, feel free to tell me about your favourite food items in the comments, or link me to any recipe boards on Pinterest. :)

Thanks for reading,
Leah xoxo 

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