Nine years ago, I became vegetarian. It was quite unexpected, and I was the first one to be surprised. After spending most of my teenage years telling people that it was totally okay to eat animals, that after all we were the ones who in the first place had given them the chance to live and were therefore in our right to decide when their lives would end, something changed within.
Blame it on yoga. That summer, I bought an intro offer at United Yoga Montreal, thinking I would go once or twice a week. I ended up going five days a week, fell in love with yoga, and the rest is history.
Backbends and all that love
As I was backbending my way through the summer, my heart started to open more and more, until I could not not feel that strong connection with the rest of the world as well as with all living beings. Here I was, walking down the street, stopping to pet a dog, cuddling with my friends’ cat. Suddenly, my whole relationship with animals switched, and I felt closer to them than ever. We were made of the same stuff: all light and love, only we were coming into the world in different shapes.
At that point it became clear that I couldn’t eat any other living being. It felt like I was eating a part of self. With that strong intuition guiding me, I started doing more research and found out about all the suffering the food industry was putting animals through. The more I learned about it, the more I became unable to deny the harsh truth that we were abusing and killing animals simply to please our tastebuds.
We are in the 21st century, we now have access to plenty of options to eat properly without having to cause any harm. And if we choose to eat meat for health reasons or for any other beliefs we hold, at least we can make sure that we are eating it in a way that is respectful for animals. However, you do whatever you want, and you will never find me judge you if you eat a hamburger steak in my face.
From animals to kids?
If you are not sensitive to what might happen to that beautiful cow who will eventually end up in your plate, I guess (hope!) you will be more touched by the suffering of a young kid. In fact, I am sure you are. I am too. Which is why I cannot believe I went through all those years without acting upon it.
There is blood on my shirt. On my skirt. On my boots. There is pain in my sweater, sweat and tears on my bra. Blame it on me. I have been a proud practitioner of ahimsa for all those years yet I am hurting people everyday, probably a few children too. It has to stop.
Working at H&M, which promotes safety policies for all its employees and its providers and is part of the Fair Labor Association, I was aware that the fashion industry wasn’t in most cases respecting human rights. Yet my love for fashion was still taking over and without any second thought, I was happily spending only a few bucks on that patterned skirt.
It was too good to be true. It still is. If the price is so low, there should be an alarm going off in our head. It cannot be right. Somewhere along the line of production, somebody suffered. That someone might still be suffering, working 14 hours a day to make the clothes you will be wearing tomorrow, and throwing out next fall. It makes no sense, and we know it.
But we prefer to close our eyes, and pretend everything is okay. Just as most of us would never dare to kill the cow but have no problem buying minced meat to make tacos, we easily get caught by all those attractive colors and patterns and forget about the heavy price of fashion, beyond the low price tag.
This ad from Amnesty International was the cherry on top. Everytime I come close to buying a new piece of clothing, this child’s face appears in my mind. Let’s say it kind of ruin any pleasure I had thinking about expanding my wardrobe.
Be the change you want to see
Forget about Corporate Social Responsibility: it’s so easy to hide behind the excuse that companies have to change the way that produce clothes and food, that they need to be good corporate citizens. Companies are created to make money, and for as long as you will buy the things they make, they will keep on making money and see no need to change. You have to stand up for yourself and defend your values. Laure Waridel clearly states it in her book : everytime you buy something, you are voting. This is probably the most powerful action we can do these days. We only get to vote for our prime minister once every four years, but we are consumers every day. Let’s use that power we have to be the change we want to see.
I did some research to find out I was so behind with that ethical clothing trend. I really need to catch up. If you are interested too, Google is your BF folks. Tofu is not the only option for vegetarians anymore, and boring fashion isn’t either the only option for those who care about the rest of the world.
Despite our differences, animals, kids, all living beings, we are so much more connected than we think. We must unite to make this place a better one. That planet is our home, and that foreign child is as much yours as it is mine.