It is Eid al-Adha today. Muslims around the world would be sacrificing animals today. In Pakistan alone, 10 million animals are slaughtered on the occasion of Eid.
It’s my first big Eid in Pakistan after 5 years. But this time it’s different because I no longer consume meat.
I turned vegetarian over three and a half years ago during my cycling trip. I was in Quito, Ecuador when I decided to become a vegetarian. On the road, I met a few vegan cyclists and started to become aware of our environmental footprint and the impact of livestock on the planet as well as the cruel treatment of the animals. As my journey progressed, so did my consciousness towards other beings. Since January 2017, I have not even touched meat. Whenever possible, I don’t even consume eggs and dairy.
The main reasons for me are ethical and environmental. The ethical reason is to avoid cruelty and suffering to animals. That we no longer have to eat animals to survive. There is an abundance of healthy plant-based options for us. The environmental factor is on accounts of livestock animals consuming large amounts of water, polluting rivers, and producing 18% of the global emission of greenhouse gases.
To some people, being vegetarian has brought immense health and stamina benefits. I have experienced none of that. But this has never been the motivation.
In South America, it was difficult to find vegetarian food in villages. People didn’t know much about vegetarian food. They would say, what about eating chicken? No. And then will go, how about fish? Nope. Eggs?
It is also very difficult being vegetarian in Pakistan where people love to eat meat. It took some time for my family to not offer me any meat. They still feed me eggs though, despite I tell them not to. As a kid, I used to get traumatized when dad slaughtered a goat on Eid. He would ask me to grab its legs before slitting its throat. Today, I got traumatized again, and couldn’t even handle the sight of a butcher heading over to the goat. I went inside and didn’t get out of the room the entire day.
Yesterday a vegetarian friend from LA sent me a quote by Mushtaq A. Yusufi on Whatsapp. “The thing that has made the greatest sacrifice for Islam is goats.”
Pictures taken in Rawalpindi in 2015