I had a conversation last night with a newly converted vegetarian. I am always curious why people do the things they do. I asked her, she had several reasons, but she was concerned that the smell of cooking flesh made her ill. She asked if it made me sick still. I told her it gets easier, but the smell of bacon still affects me. Really the smell of any strong meat component is hard to handle for me. If the meat is seasoned well and the others smells are prevalent, then the smell is not so bad.
She asked me why I became a vegetarian. Funny thing is I had been thinking about it earlier this week. In the beginning, I was unemployed and the food back supplied tons of rice and beans. I learned to cook without much meat. Then it became about losing weight. I was too broke to really go on a fancy diet, but cutting out meat was easy and cheap. As I look back, my reasons were not actually ethical or moral, but economic reasons.
I remain a vegetarian due to the idea that our food system is tainted. Meat is the most prevalent show of this. I do not eat much processed food. I mostly buy organic dried beans and grains. I buy fresh produce and herbs. I also grow much of my own. The realization that I maintained my lifestyle was now due to ethical and moral stands. I am giving a big screw you to the big food lifestyle. I am trying my hardest to maintain a clean diet with the best ingredients possible.
It is often a good idea to go back and re-evaluate your motives for things. Do you work in a huge corporate job to fulfill some real motive of yours or is it just a means to an end? I think that to truly feel complete, one must know why they do the things that they do. I am beginning to understand the importance of my motivations. The more people I met and talk with make me realize that I am truly passionate about the things that I believe in. Without evaluating my motivations, I doubt I would be that passionate about most things.
I often look into my motives to check if adjustments are needed. Do I truly believe that or was I just inspired by something to accept that? Do I feel that believing that will get me to the desired endpoint, on an acceptable path? These are questions that each individual should ask themselves and often. If we blindly go around expecting things to just stay the same always, we are foolish. Change happens around us all the time. We can either pretend it is not happening or we can adjust our motivations to more easily fit the way life truly is.
I understand that not everyone is going to be a vegetarian, I also understand that not everyone is going to care about where their food comes from. What I can do is simply offer insight into why certain things are important to me. It may not change that person, but it may get them to consider for a moment a different perspective. Once a person is open to a different perspective, they begin to question their motivations. If they are satisfied in those motives, then I am content with that. If they, however begin to look more intimately at their wants and desires and begin to discuss with me motivation, I am excited to have at least opened the door a crack.
Change happens a little at a time. Change happens when people are open to alternative perspectives. The real way to open people up is to accept them as they are, engage them in a discussion (civilly) and then give them bits of ideas. Do not bombard a staunch meat-eater with animal cruelty and factory farming. Instead open up the dialogue with alternative food ideas. If a person shops at discount stores and buys processed foods, discuss how little you spend on food and how much food you have left. The idea is to start a conversation, not dominate it. People will not respond well to being dominated and belittled. Instead offer alternatives, without the negatives of choices already made.