I love meat (chicken) and above all fish, like many. On the other hand, there are also people who aren't fond of meat or fish, or deliberately stopped doing so out of certain considerations.

Several times have I tried to live a vegetarian lifestyle, but without concrete results. Eventually the following movement developed in recent years: first the pig disappeared from the menu and then the cow (with some exception), but the chicken (no factory farming) and the fish stuck around. And for some time now, I feel that a next step is necessary.

I can no longer close my heart against the suffering inflicted on animals to meet our need for meat and fish. It simply hurts. I can feel the suffering of all animals on earth, of all animals that we perceive as property, as possessions with which we can do as we please.

Factory farming or grass-fed cows..., the point is that we have taken the right to deprive animals of their freedom, to treat them in a certain way (animal-friendly or animal-unfriendly) and then prematurely kill them for our consumption.

Imagine another species within the chain of life and death would treat humanity in this way?

Besides, the period of slavery is not far behind us - if it is behind us at all (think of children working in the clothing industry in Asian countries, for example). Furthermore, many people view their partner and/or kids as theirs and believe that they can rule over them. What we do to each other and to animals (exploitation, domination, compulsion, manipulation etc.) is a result of our state of 'being': loveless, disconnected from the heart, and unaware.

At the same time, I can look form the perspective that we are all part of the same chain of life and death. I'm not necessarily in favour of or against consuming meat and fish. After all, my body is inhabited by many living creatures (bacteria etc.) who use, sicken or kill us, and we are also prey for others (predators, snakes etc.) in the chain. And when we die, we are food for other living creatures or for the earth itself (ashes).

I do believe that the balance within the chain has been thoroughly disrupted.

Providing seven billion people with meat and fish is an impossible task for the earth itself: livestock farming requires unbelievable amounts of land and food. Land for growing grain/corn/soy to feed cattle, and land for grazing. And livestock farming requires unbelievable amounts of water (while potable water becomes increasingly scarce on earth). And however you treat the animals, once they are full-grown they are led to the slaughter.

Any kind of respect and gratitude for the life we consume, think of the Indians who lived in deep connection with nature, is  gone..., because we are not at home in our heart.

And then I'm watching an episode of Tegenlicht: Paul Kingsnorth, author and former climate activist (episode: De aarde draait door - The world continues to spin / The world is going crazy - 16 December 2018). And I hear the following statement: If you think that the web of life of which we are part is just a resource to mine, you are lost.

Yes, that's true. The tragedy of mankind is that we no longer live from connection with ourselves and the world around us. We are in a spiritual crisis.

The myth of progress (more and more again, so that we don't have to feel the emptiness) leads to a necessity for nature to contribute to economical growth: all in the service of mankind, all in the service of short-lived gratification, and it's never enough and we don't want to miss a thing... with the result of over-exploitation and depletion of the earth (and humanity: fatigue & burn-out).

Healing, however, is not to be found in 'more' or in 'growth.' Healing is to be found in resolving the alienation, opening the heart and meeting the emptiness and loneliness that lies within us all.

And then I see a documentary on Netflix.
Title: Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret.
I recommend this documentary to everyone (first month of Netflix is free). The following was set forth:
An online report of the United Nations states that livestock farming emits more greenhouse gases than the entire transportation sector. This means that the meat and dairy industry emits more greenhouse gases than all cars, trucks, trains, boats and airplanes combined.
Cows and other farm animals produce a considerable amount of methane during the digestive process. Methane gas from cattle is 86 times as destructive as carbon dioxide from vehicles.
Moreover, the United Nations also note that cattle doesn't only contribute to global warming, but also to the depletion of resources (e.g. water, fertile land) and environmental degradation (manure/phosphate/methane), destroying and exhausting the planet.
Livestock farming uses 45% of all available land, 30% of all available water, and is (indirectly) responsible for 91% of the destruction of the Amazon, the lungs of the earth, sniff... (The Amazon is cut down for the production of grain and soy, and for grazing cattle.)

And yet we continue to eat meat/fish/dairy and sticking our heads in the sand.

How is that possible?

It is possible in part because the information about the impact of livestock farming on the climate (next to the suffering inflicted on animals) wasn't/isn't fully clear yet in the minds of many. It is also possible because in droves we close our eyes to the fact that the globe is warming: we read and hear about it, but we don't want to believe it - because we are the ones who cause climate change (apart from natural influences such as the sun) and that has consequences for our behavior. And we are creatures of habit, who resent change.

But above all, we continue to eat meat/fish/dairy because we aren't at home in our hearts and therefore we do not feel the suffering that we inflict on other animals and on the planet. Feeling it, would ask for a turnaround in lifestyle what is a major challenge for many (myself included), because we enjoy our meat or fish. Besides, telling our family that we no longer want to contribute to these practices can cause some friction.  And then I haven't even mentioned the dairy industry, which is as taxing for the climate as the consumption of meat and fish.

Finally: I'm greatly in favour of 'clean meat & fish' (and clean dairy). Developments are going fast, and within a few years we may see the first juicy steak made from a single stem cell in our local supermarket. No more is needed for clean meat/fish than overcoming our own aversion toward cultured meat or fish. That single stem cell (from a fish or a chicken or a cow etc.) can be cultivated endlessly. No animal has to be killed, and now nothing more is needed than a single cell.The world's population can be provided with clean meat and fish (and in time clean dairy). In the Netherlands, Meatable is one of the organisations who has made great progress in the development of clean meat. And the taste... is exactly the same as the meat or fish you consumed before.

But we're not there yet... and it is five to twelve regarding global warming and greenhouse gases. Time to get moving.

Perhaps reading this blog and watching the documentaries (Tegenlicht, Cowspiracy) can trigger you to reexamine your habits. Eventually, this is about the well-being of us all: humans, animals, flowers and plants, the earth.

Should you want to inform others, share this blog. And do you know a delicious vegetarian or vegan dish: tell others, there are multiple facebook pages with vegetarian recipes to which you can easily add yours.

LinkedIn: Caroline Ootes