I study Philosophy as my major (6th semester) though I somehow lost track of the ‘why’ after a while. After graduating high school I didn’t have a clue what to do. Since I was really interested in Philosophy and Ethics, I thought it was worth a try. At uni this subject mainly turned out to be a disappointment. It didn’t have much to do with the discussing the purpose of life. Instead it was detail work, fussy logic and questions of definition. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to drop out. Luckily!
Why does my study suddenly make sense to me? I learned how to think properly. It’s that simple. Not that I think that people who don’t study are not able to think, not at all! Only that I personally wasn’t able to before. The study of philosophy convinced me to become a vegetarian and a vegan – the best decision of my life. Maybe I would have figured it out without studying, but considering how long it took me to finally change my life, I doubt that!
Already in my 2nd semester I took a seminar about Peter Singer’s ethics. Singer is an Australian philosopher who did important work in the field of animal ethics. Animal ethics deals with the moral relationship between humans and animals. What’s the moral state of animals? What kind of rights do animals have? And what responsibilities do we humans have towards them? Animal ethicists try to answer these questions. At the start of 2011 I came in touch with that topic for the first time. It was a really interesting seminar and it made me think. However, I did not change my actions at all.
Exactly one year later I took a course on ecological ethics. This is a generic term for animal ethics and includes a lot more: How should we treat nature? What should be morally considered – humans, animals, nature, plants? Through this interesting seminar I actually dealt with the topic of meat consumption intensely for the first time.
After a few weeks I decided to just try going without meat. During the fasting period I ate completely vegetarian. I didn’t really have any other purpose for not eating meat and didn’t plan to become vegetarian, at all. I simply wanted to see and find out for myself what it’s like. Since I had no idea what to cook in the beginning, going out for dinner was very helpful. I think I’d never really chosen a vegetarian dish at a restaurant before. They were so delicious, and cheaper than the meat dishes! After a while it worked out a little better in the kitchen and my taste started to change. I’d never really liked vegetables before that point and suddenly I found them delicious and most of all the food always looked so nice and colorful 🙂 Suddenly cooking was so much fun for me!
But the fasting period was quickly over and for Easter celebrations I ate ham. However, I didn’t find it all that awesome anymore. In general I didn’t feel like eating meat that much afterwards. I didn’t miss it, not one bit. At home I refused to cook meat and when we went out for dinner I mostly chose a vegetarian dish, as well. So, for a few months I was a so called ‘flexetarian’ and I just ate meat very rarely (maybe once a month).
As a topic of my final paper in the seminar I chose Peter Singer’s justification of vegetarianism. From that point on I was fully vegetarian. Through research about my assignment (even though I avoided the parts of the description about mass meat production and slaughtering) I was confronted with all kinds of facts that I’d never realized before. It is unbelievable in what numbers and masses animals are “produced” and killed nowadays and in what kind of circumstances. Of the impact on the environment, health and world hunger I’d never heard before. Now it was clear: It was impossible for me to continue living as I had before. It was impossible for me to eat meat now that I knew what damage is wrought by it.
Nevertheless, suddenly I panicked: Shit, no more sausages, hot dogs, salami (as you can see, I had been eating super healthy 😉 )??? In the end those thoughts were truly selfish. There I was, reading about all the disadvantages of meat consumption, even writing a paper concluding to go vegetarian and in the end I am resisting because of salami, just for the taste? Luckily I found my way out of that dilemma pretty quickly! I found a website, ‘alles-vegetarisch.de’. This is an online vegan store and they sell EVERYTHING: schnitzel, salami, steak, sausage, even shrimps, tuna and you’re not gonna believe it: chicken wings! And everything made out of plants! Isn’t it unbelievable? Why on earth, should we keep eating and killing animals then? No thanks 🙂 Tofu sausages are way more awesome! (And you won’t find disgusting gristle in them.)