Rarely when people grill steaks for a party or feed their child on chicken nuggets, do they realize that the animals used to make their dinner; have endured long distances while being treated as mere commodities behind a truck or moto in the case of chickens.
Hardly do people think about the fact that these animals had their lifespans cut short when they stopped producing or have succumbed to enormous pain before they become dinner on our plates.
Becoming vegans seems more appealing for many as they consider the suffering that animals go through.
Vegan means completely abstaining from any form of animal food; however others choose to be partial vegetarians and opt to feed on sea food and vegetables.
Michael Niyongabo Mukisa, a 35-year-old researcher in Kigali, said that he has been a vegetarian for 15 years now and has gradually incorporated more vegan food into his diet. He says that he believes in living a cruelty free lifestyle.
“I know that I can sustain myself without having to rely on killing animals. There are a lot of natural aspects to vegetarianism that really appeal to me, and I think that it’s a better way to live,” Mukisa said.
He attributes his decision to become a vegan to personal reasons rising from his past experiences during the 1994 war. He lived in the hills of Kigezi, Western Uganda before he returned to Rwanda eight years ago.
“When I arrived in Kigezi, there were many cows and the thought of eating them after being mercilessly slaughtered or even drinking their milk was not appealing to me,” he said.
Mukisa said he does not eat fish either because, “they ate people in Lake Victoria.”
The benefits of having a purely vegetarian diet are not only psychological but tremendous according to Mukisa.
“I have less fat in my body as you can see, and I feel healthier,” Mukisa said as he happily showed off his lean body.
When talking to vegans, one of the main benefits to not eating animal flesh and abstaining from their products is that they are treating animals with the respect they deserve as living creatures.
With a standard belief that animals behave much like humans as they search for food, protect their young, play, sleep, and fight.
Despite their outstanding difference in their intelligence and emotions that are less developed, strict vegans argue that animals do have the capability to think, feel and the will to care for their species.
For this reason strict vegans choose not to eat flesh foods, avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.
Though these campaigns are advanced in developed countries, developing countries are still dealing with cruelty against animals.
Recently in Rwamagana district, a peddler was arrested for carrying a goat tied behind his bicycle. Local authorities said they are becoming more vigilant against animal cruelty while enroute to market places and slaughter houses in the city.
Besides becoming a staunch animal rights activist, others are forced into becoming vegetarians.
Theophilus Maniriho, a teacher in Kabuga, in the outskirts of Kigali, cannot remember the last time he tasted meat. As a child his body resisted meat and dairy products until his parents stopped feeding him on them when he was in primary six.
“I do not regret not eating meat. It’s purely biological and I love what I eat,” Maniriho said.
Luckily, for Chantal Karemera, 27, going vegetarian was a decision purely based on protecting her health.
“I used to experience a lot of stomach aches and I swallowed all sorts of pain killers that did not work,” she said.
After a thorough check up, Karemera said the doctors found fibroids in her body and in order to reduce the pain, she had to abstain from eating meat and its products.
Besides, medical reasons she finds contentment in being a vegetarian because it is more fulfilling in all aspects of her life.
“I am surprised at how easy it is; the diet isn’t as hard to stick to as it might have been in the past,” she said.
Karemera disagrees with people who are cruel to animals. The more reason she desists from eating animal products.
“I cannot feel guilty any more as I eat brochette; just look at the way our cows are stacked in those Lorries, it’s not right,” she said.
Additionally, medical research findings show that living vegetarian lifestyles for whatever reasons, be it reaching weight loss goals, reversing diabetes and reducing the risk for heart disease, vegan diets are proving to be more filling and tasty, while they lower cravings for fatty foods.