Pigs are Friends, Not Food

Bethany - Penfield, New York
Entered on August 29, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30

It’s difficult to pinpoint the moment in my life that I decided. I don’t really remember why I chose to and I can’t recall the way that most people reacted when it first happened. All I know is that one of the most important decisions of my life was made on a total whim when I was eight years old. But regardless of my thought processes or the circumstances under which I decided, when I was in Third grade I became a vegetarian.

Saying that a dietary choice was the most important decision of my life seems like a bit of an exaggeration from the outside. But something so simple has impacted my life much more than I could have imagined. In the beginning, however, it was almost a joke, and I think I may have even done it purely to annoy my mother. My two older siblings were extremely supportive of my decision and used to dangle steaks dripping with blood in my face, or tell me that the pig they were about to eat used to have a family. One time they told me that for my Birthday they had gotten me a pet, only to reveal a glazed chicken breast sitting on the dinner table.

It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized that people could actually be polite about it; some even asked me if it was ok to eat meat in front of me. People would be curious if everyone else in my family was also a vegetarian, or if I just didn’t like the taste of meat. Everyone seemed to want an explanation but it always baffled people that twelve years ago I had no real justification, I just did it. I had never realized what an accomplishment that was, it had just always just been who I was; I’m a vegetarian. But from others reactions I realized that at such a young age, before I really understood what I was doing, I had made an extremely mature decision. Without realizing it, that decision has directed the course of my life very much. I am now very passionate about animal rights and animal cruelty. Nutrition and health are also a big part of my life, my major is exercise science and my minor is nutritional science, both choices I believe have been affected by my healthy eating habits. It could be argued that these things would have happened regardless of what I ate along the way, but something inside me tells me that’s not true. I didn’t become a vegetarian because I knew about animal cruelty; I’ve made myself learn about the treatment of animals because I am a vegetarian and have since realized how important it is to me. It has given me a strong foundation of morals and beliefs that has carried over into many other aspects of my life. Maybe if I hadn’t done it when I was eight, it would have happened later in my life, maybe I would have realized how important it is to me, and I would have made the same decision. But maybe I wouldn’t have, and then I’m not sure I know who I would be today.

Very often people ask me if there were anything I would go back to eating meat for; would I go back for fried chicken or some equally mouth-watering meat product, or when I’m pregnant will I eat meat again for the health benefits. I’m always given new incentives and I’ve thought hard about it, but there is nothing I would go back for. Being a vegetarian is part of who I am. It has effected my beliefs and morals and it has helped me chose a major in college and a path in life. Going back on that decision would almost be going back on myself, and there is no meat delicious enough to make me do that.