I’ve been a vegetarian for 12 years (well, 10 actually because in 2005 and 2006 I still ate fish).
Before I tell you the reasons why travelling has turned me into a vegetarian I would like to state the background reasons of my personal choice.
It’s a political choice, mainly aiming at making people reflect about how much and how crazily we consume stuff (or food, like if it was ‘stuff’).
When I was a teen ager I started thinking about policy and global issues, ecology, environment, still the focus of my concerns. I wanted to do something useful to change things but I still didn’t know what and how. But I knew why, and when you are 17 that’s more than enough.
So, I can say that LOVE for the world and POLITICAL ACTION changed my mind much before than my travels could do that.
So, what about travels? Why do I say that they actually made the change?
I’ll tell yu now how travelling saved my life and made me veg.
Travels gave me the key.
#1 – Travelling and the importance of diversity
As I old you, I started studying and reading about environment and desertification when I was a teenager. But at that time it was so hard to me to make a decision.
Nowadays there are a lot veg-teens around, also in my South Italy, but 15 years ago I had never met a vegetarian.
I was told they suffered lack of calcium, they were sick, I was told it was impossibile to be vegetarian unless you accept to take pills and medicines for the rest of your life.
#2 – Travelling and the importance of anonimity
Then, when I was 23, I left my parent’s home, for work. And leaving I met people interested in enviromental issues just like I was, and I met the very first veg of my life.
Moreover, nobody knew me, I was alone… so nobody had expectations on me and on what I was supposed to eat.
I could be whatever and whoever I felt like to… or at least I could start making a try!
So I tried… and I liked it.
While living alone, I already stopped eating meat without even realising it. I just didn’t need and wanted to.
Then I made a decision, and this was political action.
#3 the personal issues became global;
the global issues became personal
When you feel a country and a place like yours, you don’t accept to have it damaged.
I love the world, I love the places I visit and even more so I love the places where I’ve never been.
I feel like being vegetarian for ecologic and environemtal reasons and for sensilibilzation is a way to protect the world and tell people that every single person can make a change.
#4 You realize ‘consuming’ is not just a matter of food
Travelling you understand that generally people eat like they live and live the way they eat. And I’m no exception. Any kind of diet choice can be nothign but fashion. Vegetarians and Veg are no exception and there are, in my personal opinion, quite useless ways to be veg as well.
So I wanted to stop my personal ‘consuming’ attitude, and so I wanted to stop being consumed. If you can, read the novel ‘The edible woman’, by Margareth Atwood. This book made all my early and unaware veg and feminists thoughts become practical actions.
#5 – the more you care for the environment,
the more you mind what you do
It’s like an awareness production chain. When you start reflecting about what you eat (food keep us alive, let’s keep it in mind) you can’t help asking questions about all the rest: what you wear, where you travel and how you do that, how you live your relationships etc.
#6 – You change people, people change you.
Generally people understand I’m a veg when they see me eating or when I casually tell it. I don’t like judging and I don’t think anybody has ever persuaded anyone with an aggressive attitude.
If I’m asked why am I veg, then I explain it, from the benefits of not eatig meat to the necessity to stop the intensive farming because it’s detrimental for the earth and for the human kind.
Nobody will ever start to consume more wisely after a short conversation, but every good word said with a smile is a seed and the beginning of a trip that will lead somewhere good. At least, everytime some friend or travel mate has persuaded me about something new, it all started with a soft and calm reflection made during a friendly night.
When I was yuonger I was told that just one person can’t change the world. Sometimes they still tell it to me now.
I don’t know exactly why, but I never found this sentence credibile.