My Little Stand

March 18, 2014

Aged 20, I became a vegetarian. Between then and now there’s only been one year, due to a fitness experiment, I’ve reverted back. That’s seven full years of non-meat eating.

During these times I’ve been asked, as you invariably do, why I made this decision. The best thing I can come up with is that I did it just because I can. That I have the choice. That I can make that little stand and exercise that right. It’s never been about the politics or ethics so much – although, for the record, I am pro-animal rights.

All this serves to remind me why I choose to act in this way in the first place. Why do I find it necessary to experiment with my options? To go against the mainstream?

Not eating meat has certainly highlighted the fact that it’s a much less convenient lifestyle. So why do I feel it necessary, morals aside, to inconvenience myself? Surely it would be much easier to simply fall in line and follow everyone else?

Blind obedience is something I’ve always loved observing and challenging. If I can break the rules, for whatever reason, I’ll do it. Life, to me at least, seems so much more interesting when you take little stands. Without them you can’t see how things are on the other side of the fence. Nor can you gain a richer understanding, or a deeper ability for empathy.

People are so predetermined to put you in a box. To label you so that you fit in with their own sense of the world, so that they know their place and understand the role they play. I’ve always enjoyed messing with that. Of throwing deliberate curve balls into the system to see how people adjust, how they operate when the rug is pulled out from beneath them.

I do the same thing a lot with sexuality too, despite only ever having relations with the opposite sex. I’d never identify as a heterosexual. Purely for the reason that it only suggests that life is fixed. That all outcomes are predictable. That I’m forever bound to behave in one way.

I can’t agree with all that. The idealistic side of me is too strong. It says that you’ll never know what situation you’ll one day find yourself in.

Acting in this way, of course, isn’t conducive to one’s own sanity.

Constantly experimenting with your own belief system and challenging that of others leads to a lot of self-analysis, interrogation and conflict. Most of the time people just want easy lives. Often hoping that you too can fall in-line.

Sometimes I get beaten down by my habitual routine of moving against the grain. Lose heart. Think I’d be better off just following suit, calming down, subscribing to a quiet life of desperation.

Then, on the other hand, I look at the way I see the world and am filled with hope. Thankful for the curiosity and the opportunities its afforded me. Not to mention the people I’ve been exposed to as a result.

In a world that keeps changing I’ll keep changing with it. Never expect to rest on my laurels. Never be dependant on one way of survival over another.

The next time a meat eater asks me the question?

I’ll know what life is like on both sides of the spectrum.

A far better position to be in, or way to see the world, than any one single, unitary point.