“But it’s a Tradition”
(Photo of vegan Greek tacos)
A common reason for good and compassionate people to not be willing to change their habits with regards to food, even if it goes against everything they truly believe in (such as not participating in animal cruelty) is the fact that all of us were raised with the “traditional” or the “typical” foods of our families, and many feel uncomfortable rejecting that food, feeling it somehow is a “betrayal” of our relatives or our cultural inheritance.
Of course, there are many traditions in human civilizations that people cling to despite the harm it does to humans or other animals, and tradition for tradition’s sake is often a very poor choice (foot binding comes to mind).
But for now I’m talking strictly about food.
When I ditched meat many decades ago, my mother was so hurt that she threw a block of cheese at me. 😀
It was no doubt her way of reacting to what felt like a rejection of her, rather than the rejection of the food that stemmed from animal suffering and death.
She was Greek and her traditional Greek dishes were important to her (and I admit I did like the taste of them).
To her credit she didn’t seem to hold it against me after that, and she was happy to make foods that didn’t contain meat especially for me, which was clearly very understanding and kind of her, and for which I’ll always be grateful.
People find comfort and connection to family (and society) in the foods of their childhoods and giving that up is quite challenging for many of us, but I realized that claiming I loved and had compassion for animals while eating the products of their suffering, no matter how lovingly the dishes were prepared, was the height of hypocrisy.
There came a point in time that it was simply unbearable to live with the lie, for I either loved and showed compassion for animals by my choices, or I did not: there was –and is– no in-between.
I truly understand why people tend to cling to their traditional foods, but it saddens me deeply when they insist they could never give them up for the sake of animals.
When I hear someone say that, or imply it, I want to ask them to watch a documentary like Earthlings or The Ghosts in our Machine, and to then ask themselves if they still can choose tradition over mercy.
My deepest hope is that more and more people will be willing to watch the truth behind those foods they cling to and step into a new awareness and willingness to change.
After all, humans are far more capable of change than we give ourselves credit for and when we align our ethics and heart with our choices, we have a sense of being a part of something much larger that creates positive change throughout the world, not just for animals, but for humans and for the planet.
And remember, all those dishes you love so much can easily be veganized and taste every bit as good, if not better, than the originals. 😉