You Love Animals: How to Respond to an Invitation to a Summer BBQ?

Summer is here, time for BBQ parties! The more, the better, no?!

Julia, a woman who I had just met, wanted to thank me. I found her dog that escaped the day after she had adopted her. This lost dog was roaming on the streets, looking at me with a please-don’t leave me look in her-eyes, so I stayed with her the whole day and took her home. With help from the local police I was able to find her owner, Julia.

Happy she and her new adopted dog were reunited again, Julia invited me to come to her BBQ that Sunday. “We would love to have you there,” she said. I felt some hesitation, but appreciated her spontaneous gesture. We exchanged telephone numbers and I said I would write her a message. Her Spanish words left her mouth so rapidly, that I had to do my utmost best to understand her.

The flow of Spanish words wasn’t the only reason. I noticed that I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to be at a BBQ, where — of course — meat and/or fish are served. I can’t even remember when I was at a regular BBQ since I have decided to stop eating animals.

Days passed by without thinking of the invitation until I received a WhatsApp message. Julia asked me if we wanted to come to her BBQ and therefore she wanted to know if my partner and I eat meat. Reading her message I decided to just share my feelings with her. I thanked her for the invitation and said we don’t eat meat, as we follow a vegan life style, in which we only eat plant-based food. I wrote her that I (I didn’t want to speak for Dorus), prefer not attending BBQs where animals are eaten. I didn’t want to be rude, or unthankful, so I weighed my words carefully.

Spain has a true meat- and fish culture. 

Spaniards eat more meat than any other EU country (the average Spaniard puts away more than 1 kg a week), slaughtering 70 million pigs, cows, sheep, goats, horses and birds each year to produce 7.6 m tonnes of meat. In a country facing rapid desertification in the coming decades it makes little sense to use 15.000 liters of water to raise each kilogram of meat.

Recently the prime minister of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, said on television in very precise words that to him a medium steak is “imbatible” (unbeatable), in reaction to the brand new nationwide campaign “Menos Carne Más Vida” (Less Meat More Life) of the Minister of consumption. This campaign has been launched to make Spaniards aware of the need to reduce their meat consumption for health and environmental reasons. It has found a lot of resistance by the Spanish agricultural industry, as they are afraid of jeopardising jobs. Sánchez’ performance certainly won’t help to change the meat- and food industry, which is a hell of a rotten system.

“I can’t come, Julia.”

“OK,” she said, “if you ever need anything, you have my number.”

Since I have learned more about the environmental impact of meat and fish and what harm and suffering humans cause to animals, in Big Agriculture and in the slaughterhouses, I have changed. I’m done. I can’t go back to consuming products that contain suffering, stress, torture and death. I can’t. I don’t want to be part of it. 

A few years ago friends and family from the Netherlands and New Zealand came to visit us  in our new home on Ibiza where we lived back then. It happened to be my birthday too. New Zealanders love to barbecue, and I knew they would love to eat some good meat and fish. Our friend, who is chef, organized the BBQ. I wanted everybody to enjoy at our BBQ party, and I thought that was only possible when animals were eaten. So we served lots of chicken wings, steak, beef, sausages and salmon. Because that’s what you do at a BBQ, right? Coming together, having beers, wines, and fun, while there’s meat on the grill, causing that particular scent of grilled flesh. To me it has always been the scent of summer afternoons. But not anymore. I was a pescarian back then, and I already read a lot of the industry, but still I wanted to please my family and friends.

When I said to Julia I couldn’t come, I wondered: Am I too sensitive? I, who occasionally shivers reading of woke and cancel culture that is inclined to censor those, who don’t think the same. Freedom of speech that isn’t so free anymore. 

In these current times of polarization, it seems we can’t discuss differences in opinions in a healthy way. We often feel insulted, hurt, attacked even, when important topics as racism, discrimination, and inequality arrive to the — heated — conversation as we express our political correct opinion. 

We live in our own bubbles, the environment in which we interact with people who all think moreless the same. Both in the real and in the digital world, enforced by the pandemic.

I’m aware I’m living in an ecological and vegan bubble and I know damn well, veganism is a lifestyle not everybody agrees with, because we simply aren’t preoccupied by the same things. 

We will always live in a world where animals are used and killed for human consumption, because for many people animals are objects and food, not autonomous creatures that feel emotions, like pain and stress and even grief. And giving up meat for environmental reasons, is for the majority of people still non-negotiable. 

Once I was at a BBQ for which our friend slaughtered one of his lams. One of my friends, who was vegan, was also invited. I said to her that I would understand if this wasn’t her kind of party. I also had my doubts. But we decided to go anyway. The lady of the house was surprised to see us not eating anything. We could see with our own eyes where the meat came from: a healthy and loved animal of which she had taken good care of since it was born, right? So why didn’t we take some of the meat? We said we just wanted to enjoy the company of the people and some drinks, not the food, as we were vegetarian (I) and vegan (my friend). My friend asked if the little lam perhaps had given a name. The lady of the house replied indignantly “Oh no, of course not. If I had given the lam a name, we would never ever have killed it.”

Uhhm okay..right. My friend and I, we finished the bag of chips. 

If I had more energy left in the summer heat that Sunday, I would have spent some time in my tiny kitchen and would have taken a few vegan dishes to Julia’s BBQ. Lentil burgers and almond cheese, home made humus and veggies from the garden. But I rather stayed home in my own vegan bubble and didn’t want to be confronted with tortured flesh on the grill and people enjoying it.

Maybe BBQ loving friends and family are reading this, and think oh no…what is she being silly. Totally in her own vegan world!

If I am in a James Aspey kind of mood, I decline the invitation to your BBQ party and we will catch up another day.

My friend,

Oeff! That’s quite harsh, isn’t it? Maybe yes, but like the American feminist and political activist Gloria Steinem said:

The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!”

A second way to respond is this: I say yes, and bring good, tasty food to your BBQ no animal had to be exploited and killed for. We would drink and dance together till the early morn. Patience and stepping out of my vegan world, is what it takes.

Happy Summer – with lots of meatless BBQs!

Con Amor,

Eva

*The name of the person Julia is fictitious.

**James Aspey is an Australian fitness coach and animal rights activist who speaks of an animal holocaust. He is known for remaining silent for an entire year to raise awareness of animal cruelty.

Watch his story here:

New Beginnings, Family Expansion, and Some Mental Gymnastics to Close the Week.

There is so much to write about lately and yet it has been a bit silent on my blog. So many blogposts and articles have been written in my head, not on paper or screen. Do you know that feeling that you want to do all these things you want to do, and then you end up doing none of them? That notion that time flies like a maniac?

I’m restless, but not in an agitated way.

Perhaps it doesn’t stress me out because life is better than last year. We have a home now, tomatoes are growing in the garden (and many more veggies!), we have organised four tiny home builds and sustainable living courses with the Green Gorillas, despite all the difficulties and endless changing Covid-19 regulations. 

Socialising

Somehow this is a season of New Beginnings, I just know it. I sense it when I cycle through the village and see people at terraces, cafes with joking waiters, doors of restaurants re-opened, people socialising. This time last year, there was sadness in the air; nobody around in the village streets. The sadness doesn’t paint the sky anymore, but there’s grief deeply hidden under those sunny skies. Not only in Algaida.

Today – with thanks to our neighbour – we have become official residents of Algaida, Mallorca, and we are on the waiting list to get our own mailbox further down the road! Yes, finally 🙂 — here on the countryside people don’t have mailboxes at their houses.

Door to pieces

Speaking of our home, there’s still a lot to do. Dorus is working on finishing Vanessa’s tiny home and have been some obstacles to face, he’s writing an e-book on the Sustainable Living course, and is helping the organic farmer with things on the land or his house. Before you know, another week is gone, without much done on our place. You see it already when you enter our land, a door which you can’t call a “door” is falling to pieces. In the meantime, temperatures are rising again, so some hours of the day you’d better take it easy, like the Mallorquins do. Anyway, it will be all right somehow. We aren’t in a rush really.

Birthday present

Our animal family has grown. Five chicks were born last week! One of the neighbours gave us a brooding chicken and her eggs three weeks ago. It was around my birthday. The mother hardly ate and sat in a trance in her nest the whole three weeks. She was sitting there and hardly moved. I never knew that this is the normal way for a broodding chicken. It was so moving to see her sitting on her eggs, with her little head down, drowsy. Three weeks later we saw little babies below her beautiful dark wings. Two were sadly lying dead in the nest. The five are incredible cute and I just love the mom. She is so funny and sassy. Yes, chickens have characters. How she protects her little family, it’s adorable. To save her little children from our cats and not causing stress for the mum, we have to keep them at the back of the land. I would love to have them closer later when they are bigger.

Some weeks ago, Luna our cat, found three baby rabbits in our garden (which appeared to be baby hares!). She too was overwhelmed by the sight of them. Normally she sees them as food (I know horrible! But just as horrible for the dead animals in the pet food)

Happy end

My my my, what a situation. A few days later when I noticed they were hardly drinking the goat milk I tried to give them, I was starting to feel kind of desperate. I didn’t want those sweeties to die. So what do you do? Ask Facebook! It sounds ridiculous, but it worked. I asked for advice in several groups on Facebook. The response I received in a group that helps animals on Mallorca was huge. Never I got so many comments and shares from something I posted. I even received private -, WhatsApp and voice messages. So much love from the people for these tiny animals, it was just heartwarming. A mother and daughter came to collect the little hares, as they knew how to take care of them. Besides all the tips, many other people offered their help, also considering the cats. I felt so relieved after I knew they are in good hands. Dorus and I were celebrating the happy end of this emotional event.

After that happened, I wondered: All those people who replied, they all wanted to help saving these baby hares and shared their knowledge with me. All those people in this group, who are helping mostly abandoned dogs and cats, are they also saving other animals — cows, chickens, pigs, sheep — or do they taste better than helping them?

I decided to put it to the test and just ask it in the group:

Let’s do a small enquiry.

The response wasn’t huge this time, which wasn’t really surprising. However, those who answered took it seriously and their answers were detailed. 

A woman said she stopped eating animal products completely, because she loves ALL animals, not only her cats and dogs.

Another woman commented she isn’t an animal rights activist, and because she isn’t, she says, she eats meat and fish and won’t change a single thing (she loves cats and dogs, and works in a shelter for cats).

A member answers in detail that to her it is important to have laws that prohibit the exploitation of animals, the abuse and painful deaths. People are free to choose if they want to eat animals or not,  and they should not be judged. She eats chicken and beef, and bacon, and some fish. Rabbit no, because it could be a pet, she says. One time she witnessed the slaughter of a goat, and since then she dislikes the taste of lamb and goat cheese in her mouth, so she stopped eating this.

“If you are so shocked to see an animal die, I recommend you to go to a slaughterhouse and see how the others die. There is no difference between that baby torn from its mother goat (lamb) and a baby torn from its mother pig (piglet) and a baby torn from its mother cow (calf),” somebody replied to her. 

One comment was from a lady, who said she went vegan as soon as she discovered (10 years ago) the monstrosities that are done to animals. 

And two final interesting comments:

“To me, the mental gymnastics involved in feeding, healing and caring for some animals and allowing others to live in overcrowded, deplorable conditions and then being transported to be killed to eat that favourite dish with x or y in it, is incomprehensible.”

“I eat chicken and pork, but only organic. I’m not a vegetarian or vegan. But it makes me sick if I think of how the animal was treated before being killed.”

Food for thought. It is.

Con Amor,

Eva 

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