Plant-based Transitions: Green Party Leader Elizabeth May

There are so many solid reasons to become vegetarian – eating lower on the food chain to solve the spectre of mass starvation (Frances Moore Lappé’s reason in Diet for a Small Planet), health reasons in avoiding animal products (well-explained by my friend and Green Deputy leader Georges Laraque who is ahead of me and fully vegan), concern for the greenhouse gases emitted in meat production and concern for animal rights.

My own reasons seem childish in retrospect, but on the other hand, I was a child when, 48 years ago, I decided to stop eating meat.

I grew up on a wonderful 7-acre property, with wetland and forest and space for a hobby farm. We had ponies and a donkey and chickens, and then sheep.

I was eight years old when I had pet lambs. Without even thinking about it, I realized I could no longer eat lamb. I can remember feeling guilty patting a cow’s velvety nose and realizing I was still happy to eat burgers.

The decision to stop eating any meat or poultry was immediate and prompted by going, at age 10, with my mother and little brother to see “Bambi.” After the movie, I sat in the car, still parked in the parking lot, crying about Bambi’s mother being shot. I was so angry at hunters, but my mother reminded me that my aunt and uncle were hunters. “Besides,” she said, “you cannot criticize hunters as long as you eat what they shot.”

That was that. I decided to never eat meat again. Sometimes I think it was a sign of my future career as a lawyer – not wanting to lose an argument on a technicality.

As a child, I was the only person I knew who was vegetarian. It led to being tormented in school and having events with nothing available for lunch. I was excited to find that George Bernard Shaw was a vegetarian and even more thrilled when I read in TV Guide that Tina louise, who played Ginger on “Gilligan’s Island” didn’t eat meat. It is glorious living in a society where being a vegetarian is considered normal!

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