An evolving vegetarian?

Lots of people have been evolving on various things in the last year. In fact, it seems to have become a fashion. In the US, President Obama ‘evolved’ over gay marriage. In Australia, Tony Abbott evolved over paid parental leave. I’m starting to feel myself evolving over, of all things, being (or not being) a vegetarian. I used to think of vegetarians as being a bunch of nuisances who made life difficult for everyone else when it came to choosing restaurants.  
Soy-whey protein diet, from US Dept of Agriculture / Wikipedia.
Soy-whey protein diet, from US Dept of Agriculture / Wikipedia.

In the last year, I have felt myself change. In part, it was reading about the way animals react in slaughterhouses. Pigs, in particular, I’m told, seem to know they are going to be killed and react, screaming in a way that sounds very human. I’ve also seen some “hidden camera” footage of life inside turkey farms and chicken batteries. In one case turkeys had apparent skin diseases, and farm hands were kicking them like footballs. In another video, chickens appeared to be eating their own dead … what should I call them…siblings? And In Australia we had a big controversy over footage of   how Australian animals were slaughtered in Indonesian abattoirs.

Some US states, including North Carolina, have tried to outlaw animal activists getting such hidden tapes.

So I’ve been cutting back on my meat consumption. I haven’t bought bacon for a few months now. I’ve bought free range eggs. The night I write this, I’m going to a Japanese restaurant with some friends. I guess I’ll have a vegetable tempura. One of my main obstacles to going vegetarian has been that the dishes I’ve tried to cook without meat have tasted rather bland. Let’s face it: most vegetables don’t have that much flavor. So I’ve started experimenting with more spices.

I’m still tossing up if I can justify eating chicken meat that was free range before it was killed. I don’t know much about how chickens are killed and how quick or otherwise the process is.  I can visualize giving up beef . I may end up as one of those people who eat dairy products and eggs, but not meat. (I just learned that this is called ovo-lacto-vegetarianism.)

So, has anyone who is reading this tried to go to a vegetarian diet? Why did you try it? Did you find it restrictive and boring? Could you stick to it? I’d love to hear.

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The joys of doing something creative

Please note: this is my blog site. For information about editing an academic thesis click here.

Recently I bought a ukulele, and began attending beginners’ classes with the Melbourne Ukulele Kollective (and yes, that is Kollective with a K.) They hold beginner’s classes, free, once a week at a hotel in inner suburban Melbourne. At first it was hard to get from one chord to another, I struggled to keep up with other people. I still do on new songs. But I’m getting faster and a bit smoother at moving from one chord to another. 

Ukulele, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Ukulele, courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

After attending for about three months, I decided this was something I could stick to, so I bought a more expensive Uke: an eight-string tenor. After six months of attending the group, I decided to do  my first performance at the ‘open mike’ night they hold in a bar in Northcote.  I practiced Van Morrison’s ‘Brown Eyed Girl.’  I practiced singing the melody into an electronic tuner, which tells you whether you are on-key, flat or sharp. In rehearsals at home, I was on pitch about fifty percent of the time. I figured for a first time effort, that was Okay, so last week I fronted up, performed and got all the chords right. It went well. I felt pleased. There is a simple pleasure in being able to play something well enough to draw a reasonable amount of applause from an audience.

For next month’s open mike, I’m tossing up between the Beatles’  ‘Let It Be’ and Sting’s ‘Fields of Gold.” Would any of my friends care to suggest which is a better song? I’m all ears.

Diamonds among the dust

 Sometimes, amongst the awful things that happen in the world, you see someone who reacts  differently  than you expect. Tonight I saw a television item about Michelle Knight, one of the three women who were kidnapped and held in a boarded-up house  in Cleveland by school Bus Driver Ariel Castro. They were rescued earlier this year after one escaped and got a neighbor to call the police. Each of the three women was raped, beaten and chained up. One became pregnant and gave birth in the house – her six-year-old-daughter escaped with her.

Michelle Knight
Michelle Knight

Normally, someone who had been through such an experience would want to disappear from the public view. And mostly they have. But this week, Michelle Knight walked into the court room in which her former rapist and kidnapper was sitting, and delivered what amounted to a victim impact statement – in full view of Castro.

 She said, “You deserve to spend life in prison. You took 11 years of my life away and now I’ve got it back. I spent 11 years in hell and now your hell is just beginning. I will overcome all this has happened, but you will face hell for eternity.”

Knight, her voice rising, added, “I will live on. You will die a little every day.”

For her to be able to walk into that courtroom was an act of immense courage. Michelle, I admire and salute you. I hope you have a good life. A fund has been established  to assist the women to get back to a normal life.   A link to the fund is here.