I am a skier. But I’m no ordinary skier – certainly not of the fair weather variety. I ski hard and sometimes fast. I am adventurous, but I’m cautious too. The mountain is always king, no doubts about that. Some days, we are known to ski over 10,000 vertical metres. That’s a lot of terrain covered, if you know what I mean.
Which leads to where I am writing at the moment, in Chamonix in the middle of ‘Veganuary’, the one time of the year that people are encouraged to consume a plant-only diet for a month..
It struck me yesterday when I arrived that I was actually doing this, and I’m in FRANCE, one of the most animal consuming loving nations in the world. Think ‘fromage’, think “cote de beouf’, ‘tartiflettes’ and of course their amazing range of ‘tartes’. I’m really ‘stuffed’ when it comes to being a liberally minded vegan.
Why do I continue to do Veganuary each year you may I ask, especially during the skiing season? The answer is simply this: because the more I meditate, the more I connect with animals, the more I read about the shocking abuse of animals in the ‘industrialisation’ of food production, it leaves me with no choice but to at least try for a month without eating animal products.
In fact, this was further inspired by a recent experience of looking after a pet rabbit (aka Mr Potter) over the recent Christmas period, and the connection we made with this gorgeous animal.
You see, once you connect with an animal and understand their consciousness, eating meat for pleasure becomes unthinkable. What makes a rabbit any different from a cow or pig? How about a dog?
Moreover, when an animal comes over and bows it head in front of you saying:
“please stroke my head, I really like that,”
it is communicating to you in a non-verbal way, for which at the very basis of that communication is a thought, for which feelings and behaviours arise. It may not be English. It may not be any other language known to man, but it is communicating something with you. Something that you and I understand.
As I have mentioned before, to kill because we wish to enjoy the pleasure of that food is akin to, as Morissey, lead singer of the Smiths once famously said, “murder”. We acknowledge the taste, then quickly forget about it as it is digested. That life however is GONE.
In this regard, we have been sold the myth and brought up in a society where we believe that killing animals for food is part of the food chain. We only have to look at the genus of our ancestors, the apes to understand their diet and digestive system. Whilst there is some evidence that they consume a small portion of their diet through insects and other sources, their diet is overwhelmingly plant-based.
Whilst it is fair to say that the evolution of our dietary habits has progressed somewhat with modern agriculture and what appears to be natural, the raising and slaughtering of animals in a very non-natural environment is not, yet this grotesque fact is conveniently forgotten or turned a blind eye to.
My ultimate test is, whether someone could actually kill an animal in order to eat it. I met someone on my last ski trip who boasted of such fact. John said to me in a very confident manner:
“ever killed an animal Scott?”
To which I replied I hadn’t, shivering at the thought. Could I slit the throat of an animal and watch it wriggle and bleed as its consciousness fades and dies? Could the common meat-eater also answer the same question? I think most people would find that difficult. Yet we conveniently ignore it.
That’s not to say that I think that all meat eaters are bad – they aren’t and I used to be one of them, but it’s the awareness of what’s going on here that is important and what that really means – for something to die in order for you to live. If at the end of day, you still make that choice, then that’s ok. But at least be informed about it.
So skiing vegan it is. It’s about making a stand, being a spiritual activist; it’s doing something that makes you feel good. It’s about being smart with your choices, which makes you stronger and more determined. It might even make you feel better as well. What have you got to lose?