For ten years my parents tried to make me eat what normal people eat. They eventually succeeded. In the first ten years of my life I refused meat and dairy products. And I still do not like onions, garlic and leeks. And there is more…
I remember very well when I slowly started to eat cheese at the age of eight. A strange thing indeed, considering my father held a leading position in a local dairy. It was no problem for me to eat bread and butter, therefore, my mother mixed mild cheese spread with loads of butter, so that I got used to the taste of cheese. The next step was bread and butter with thinly sliced cheese. Even this became normal for me, so I turned to stronger cheeses, until I ended with really stinky ones. Everybody was proud of me!
AS A CHILD I FELT DISGUSTED BY SAUSAGE
I also found sausages disgusting! But this is a different story. Today, some decades later, I am aware that I was born as a semi-vegan. Of course, this did not fit into the prevailing habits of the society I grew up in. Many children have a natural instinct, and feel exactly what is good for them and what is not. During my days as a kinesiologist I often experienced that children are allergic or intolerant to food they did not want to eat originally (but were often forced to).
For some years I have been vegetarian for ethical reasons, moving towards becoming vegan. I am not interested in facts and statistics which say it is unhealthy to eat meat. No, I just don’t like meat because I don’t want to eat dead animals. And this includes fish and seafood.
WHY WE LOVE DOGS AND EAT PIGS
I always find it amazing that loving owners of horses, dogs, cats, hamsters or guinea pigs eat a rare steak without turning a hair. The American social psychologist Melanie Joy has written an interesting book on this topic: ‘Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, And Wear Cows’.
She says you should imagine the following scenario: you are invited to a festive dinner at friends’. Together with the other guests you sit at a nicely laid table. The room is pleasantly warm, candle light is reflected in crystal glasses filled with wine. There is relaxed conversation. You can smell tempting aromas coming from the kitchen. You have not eaten anything the whole day, and your stomach is rumbling. After some time, which seems a lifetime to you, the host appears with a steaming bowl of stew.
The scent of meat, spices and vegetables is drifting through the room. You help yourself generously. After you have tried the tender meat, you ask the host for the recipe. She happily reveals the secret by telling that she first takes five pounds of golden retriever meat, well marinated, and then… Golden retriever? You are petrified! The meat in your mouth comes from a dog. And now? Would you continue? Or does the thought of Golden Retriever on your plate, which you have just eaten, repel you?
REPRESSION KEEPS SOME FROM EATING MEATLESS
What is going on here? When we think of a golden retriever, we see a dog in front of us, playing ball with children in a garden, dozing in front of the fireplace, or running alongside with a jogger. These images raise sympathy and compassion for the killed dog, and disgust at the thought of eating this animal. If we deal with beef, however, we skip this part of the process of perception which connects the meat with the cow.
I do not count myself as a militant vegetarian who condemns others for eating meat. People have different reasons why they do not want to exclusively live on vegetables, grain or fruits.
Why do I publish this text on my women’s blog? Because in my experience, it is basically us women who influence the eating habits of our families and therefore, indirectly of our society.
However, an increasing number of children and teenagers influence us adults to do without meat. They simply refuse to eat animals for ethical reasons.