On September 29th 2015, I, an irrelevant American, decided to stop eating meat.
Why does this fact matter? I'm not so sure, but some shocking evidence was just released by the World Health Organization that makes me thankful for this decision.
Some facts and figures have been floating around for years, but on Monday a research division of the World Health Organization confirmed that sausage, bacon, and other processed meats are directly linked to cancer.
This thought has been creeping up in my mind since the middle of last year, when by chance I came across one of those horrific videos throwing the horrific treatment of animals in your face.
I've never been one for those scare tactics, or shaming people into creating a false sense of self-righteousness for everyone who doesn't eat meat, but the video made me extremely uncomfortable.
Little faces and hands.
It was sad. It made me sad. It made me feel bad for contributing.
This singular image from the video stuck to me. I started having nightmares about it. There was this giant metal machine, it looked like something out of Sweeney Todd. Something you'd use to grind up human bones.
Anyway, this thing...this machine's singular purpose is to grind up baby chickens. Chicks, you know those fluffy little things you see waddling near quiet ponds in the summertime? Chicks.
Some hapless worker approaches the big metal beast with a bucket. It's a steely metal thing with a handle, and it's filled to the brim with baby chickens. Chicks. They're flailing about, screaming. Their screams a chorus of horror, panic stricken.
It reminded me of a lot of things, but a tasty meal wasn't one of them.
Anyway, this is not a guilt trip I want to go on, but it got me thinking. How many millions of little animals are slaughtered each year due to the need for people to consume processed meat, which is now proven to cause cancer?
The answer to that question is a mere google search away: 9.4 Billion land animals in the U.S. alone were slaughtered for food.
But that's not the statistic I want to focus on. The statistic deserves attention is the 400 million animals that were saved because people decided to skip a few meals. These people didn't go full on vegetarian or vegan, but they just decided they didn't feel like eating meat.
See, if the demand for such a product goes down, then people stop making that product. Whether we like it or not, meat and animal products are an industry.
I'm not going to sit here typing out some profound example of why meat eating is wrong, and why you're a bad person, you're not. I'm not going to throw a bunch of gruesome photos in here to make you feel bad. No diatribe like that is worth reading.
I don't hold bullying of any kind at a high value. Even if you're trying to do something good, you shouldn't try to force anyone into anything.
I spent much of last year sick to my stomach, not because of anything in particular, but because I was eating poorly. My diet was unbalanced and immature. I was coming off of four years of college and that can destroy anyone's will to eat well.
I don't have any cooking skills, and yes it's hard to resist eating meat right now, I even slipped up and had a burger this weekend. But I'm back on the straight and narrow.
Not eating meat has made me a lot less anxious. I've slept better. Every time I talk to my little cat Miss.Tuffsey on Skype with my parents, I don't feel guilty. Because whose to say which animals are prized and which animals are put on our plates?
I don't know, it may seem like an idealistic argument, or one I may grow out of, but I'm going to try and keep this up for a year. This small change, that I haven't missed that much, has given me a little more peace of mind.
I've been a vegetarian for a month, and I feel a lot better, not only am I sleeping better, feeling more fit and losing weight, but I feel more at peace with myself.
Yes, I'm not vegan. And no, I'm not perfect, but I'm trying. I just think about how much healthier and happier I'll be if I stick with it. I love animals, and I want to help them as much as I can. Right now, not eating meat is all I can do. And I'm cool with that.