Submitted by Bronwyn
I became vegetarian after visiting the Homebush Abattoir on a school excursion when I was 16 years old. Until then I’d been bought up on a diet of meat and three veg, with a baked dinner every Sunday lunch, fish on a Friday and bar-be-ques for celebrations of any kind.
When my uncle struck it lucky at the races it was a big feed of sea food at Doyles. I was an urban, working class girl who lived my life in a second story flat and never had a pet.
I clearly remember being at the Abattoir and, for the first time in 16 years, realising, with a mix of horror and bewilderment, that what I was eating was animals! And not only animals but ones that were being herded, lowing and braying piteously, to their slaughter, right before my eyes. Their fear and distress was palpable. The smell of blood was ripe in the air, the roar of machines was deafening, the rows of carcasses hanging on giant metal hooks was something out of a horror movie.
I learned later, in HSC English, that what I experienced that day was an epiphany. On the way home, on the coach, I berated myself for never having realised where meat came from. I must have known, but just not consciously registered that the suffering of living creatures was behind my enjoyment and sustenance.
I resolved there and then never to eat meat, or fish, again. So I became a vegetarian. That was 44 years ago. I’ve never missed meat once, not once. On the contrary, I’ve had a much healthier and varied diet and found great delight in the worlds amazing abundance of vegetables, fruits, pulses, grains, nuts and spices.
Over the years, having learned more about the environmental, economic and philosophical advantages of a vegetarian world, I have offered many a prayer of thanks for that school excursion. As awful as it was it opened the door to the great joy of being a vegetarian and of knowing that I have walked lighter on this earth because of it.