When I was about 4 years old my mum and I had a weekday routine. We’d see my 4 older siblings off to school and work, then at about 10 am we’d settle down for a cup of instant coffee and our morning viewing. (Yes, I had coffee too, and Mum is horrified at the thought of this now…but at least mine was a milk coffee…great for my growing bones). 🙂
First we’d watch Swami Sarasvati’s yoga show and then the Roy Hampson Show—an infotainment show, a bit like that thing with David Campbell and Sonia Kruger that you’ve probably never seen unless you go to a gym in the morning.
The jolly butcher and the squeaky lamb
One of the advertising segments was for MasterCut Butchers (I can still remember the song). I loved it because the butcher was a jovial man with an apron and he had a smiling, squeaky toy lamb positioned in the front corner of the screen as he talked to the housewife viewers about cuts of meat and weekly specials.
I remember one particular day he was talking about cuts of lamb and, being a lover of language, I thought it was funny that we used the same word for meat as we did for baby sheep…I can still feel that dull, horrified feeling as it dawned on me…but I thought I had misunderstood some grownup thing, as children often do.
“Mummy, the lamb we eat, that’s not the same as baby lambs, is it?”
The awful truth
I remember Mum looking a bit guilty and apologetic as she confirmed that yes, actually, it was.
She told me once that she knew at that moment that I’d be a vegetarian eventually. She wasn’t going to encourage it, and I understand why. It was the 1960s, and with a family of 7 (including 4 teenagers) to care for, she didn’t need any futher complications!
I think I said I’d never eat meat again, but after a stern warning that if I didn’t eat meat I’d have to eat my vegies, I went back to eating animals, while trying to damp down the nagging guilt and disgust with what I was doing.
The much-too-late decision
I think I was in denial. I know I didn’t really allow myself to think about it properly until I’d finally stopped eating meat altogether many years later.
Recently, I had a series of similarly confronting experiences, and at 47 have stopped eating animal products (with the occasional mistake) and won’t replace other animal products I use in my life, like wool and leather.
I can’t make up for the 47 years that I contributed to animal cruelty. All I can do is raise awareness so that others might have a light bulb moment of their own and make the choice not to support death for food.
(Thanks to my sister Helen who kindly allowed me to use her photo of some of her vegie garden produce as my blog header picture. I’m afraid I’m not much of a gardener, and my meagre produce wouldn’t inspire anyone!)