Everyone needs to watch “Earthlings” at some point in their lives, preferably before its too late to make a difference.
Now, I’m not one for preaching much about what others should or shouldn’t eat. I have my fair share of unhealthy vices when it comes to what I put in my body but Nelson and I have taken on a vow of vegetarianism with the coming of this new year. Its been an ongoing journey for me. I began changing my diet around three years ago. Slowly I left milk and moved onto soy milk and then almond milk and rice milk. I havent eaten pork in ages and I completely stopped eating beef roughly three years ago. The one determining factor on whether or not I could actually commit to this whole “vegetarian movement” was my love for chicken and how accessible it seemed to be, always around me… Last year I told myself after traveling the world during the summer, I would try my body at being a full on vegetarian. Nelson and I figured perhaps we should wait until after visiting Haiti and Senegal being that these two countries were very meat heavy but also ritualistic in many ways about how they offered food, meat in particular, etc.
Saul Williams, whose a good friend and self proclaimed vegetarian, suggested on numerous occasions that I watch this film called “Earthlings.” The first time he mentioned it, I wanna say it was May 2010 while I was visiting him in Paris. I didn’t pay him much mind and athough I thought it quite a noble act to become a vegetarian, I convinced myself that it would be nearly impossible to ever truly give up my love for chicken etc. As so many other stubborn and arrogant humanbeings, I dont think I’d ever truly given myself a chance. Even if I wanted to participate in this alternative eating lifestyle, I had already convinced myself it was un-doable, ridiculous, and elitist even. It recalled memories of one too many vegetarian crusaders who had made grandiose protests in the name of animals (most of whom were white, mind you) and I never found it a movement I’d want to be a part of, not yet anyhow. Not with all the oppression going on around me and all the causes I felt more worthy of being involved in. I don;t think most folks from my background (working class brown folk that is) have had the time or financial convenience to truly explore their eating lifestyles. To be honest, meat is probably the most mass produced, affordable food in our neighborhoods. It’s everywhere. It’s so ingrained in our diets that we truly have become addicts, fanatics even.
Everyone has their own journey through which they come to see themselves anew, their bodies, their careers, their health, their lovers etc. And so, this is not a plea nor a sales pitch. I simply want to share my journey and perhaps it will encourage others to at the very least, reconsider what they put into their bodies and ones relationship with the world around them. I’d just like to say this: the transition for me began when I first watched an animal sacrificed on my behalf along with a few others in Haiti. It was a small, frail, gentle goat. The actual act was so sacred and gruesome that I could not reconcile with myself for the whole rest of the trip what had taken place. The friends I was with saw it as something amazing, enticing, entertaining even. I on the other hand couldnt get the image of the goat being torn by bare hands out of my head, the blood, the bones, the breath… Although it was such a high honor to have this meal prepared for us, I had to turn it away. I was confronted with my American complacency, convenience, and privilege. Before this very moment never had I ever been in a space where I’d be forced to be a part of the actual process of killing for my own food. In many ways, I felt like a coward, a hypocrite, embarrassed. Though this film “Earthlings” may not be for everyone, the analogies that were made for animals to humans were so necessary. How detached we have become from each other and the very earth we are a part of is frightening, disheartening, and truly disgraceful.
The main message I’d hope to convey is not that we aren’t “allowed” or even that we shouldn’t eat meat. Its truly that we need to be more intune with what we are eating and how it has gotten to us. Our distance from our very sources of energy and sustenance is unjust and shameful. If one can not partake in the process of how the very animal they are eating has come to their plate than one is desensitized from ones very existence. There was a time when having meat was an honor, a privilege, an indulgence that took place only for celebration and commencements, not an everyday occurrence. The fact that we eat meat once, twice, even three times a day is sickening. The very act of killing an animal was seen as worship, honor, a dignified exchange of energy. Theres no awareness of what we are eating, where it is coming from, or how it has gotten to us. Those very details are ginormous factors in how your body digests and processes that animal and therein affects your health, your body, your spirit.
My journey is about awareness, my message is love. We have to be more critical of our intakes because surely it has a great deal to do with our out take. No one’s saying that this will happen over night or that we will even ever come to agree on how to go about changing our diets etc. I simply hope others will join in the reflection necessary to make this world a better place not just for us as human beings but for all earthlings. I encourage you to simply research the products you’re purchasing…To be unconscious of the things you are putting in your body, the products you wear, the things you support is to have a very dead existence…sleep walkin’ is what we call it. its no existence at all.
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