Why I Cried During a Prawning Session

Prawn noodles

Prawn noodles: a common dish in Singapore

While the title of today’s post sounds really dramatic, that isn’t my intention at all. That (my crying) was basically what happened while Ken and I were out last week, so I’m just going to tell the story as it is.

Prawning

Do you guys know what prawning is? Also known as prawn fishing, prawning is a common pastime in Singapore. It’s just like fishing, except instead of baiting for fish, you bait prawns.

I don’t prawn given that I’m a vegetarian, but many people in Singapore do. Some find the activity fun and a nice way to bond with friends, while some prawn for the seafood feast thereafter. There are even meetups where people meet to prawn! Ken himself used to prawn quite often with his friends as a social activity.

Out at a Furniture Fair

So last weekend, Ken and I were at a furniture fair. We meant to attend a Joel Bauer seminar but couldn’t get a seat so we visited this fair instead, which was next door. (For those of you in Singapore, you can visit the fair too at Expo. The last day is 24 Nov, this Sunday! Details: Home Planner 2014.)

Turned out to be a silver lining because we found a mattress we like: something we needed to buy before our wedding as part of Chinese customs! So we purchased it on the spot. One thing off our wedding to-do list!

Just as we were about to leave, Ken caught sight of this makeshift prawning site as part of the fair attractions. As long as you make a minimum spend at the fair, you get a free prawning session, anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes. Any prawns you catch during your session will be yours to keep.

Prawning site

The prawning site

Free Prawning Session

Ken and I qualified for a free 10-minute session with our mattress purchase. Being a vegetarian, I declined, but Ken was keen for the food (prawns). So, why not?

So I sat and watched as he set himself up.

Prawning pool

The prawning pool. Lots of prawns swimming inside! The water was intentionally dyed black to make it harder to catch the prawns.

Prawning: Bait

Prawn food: the bait.

Prawning: Ken hooking the bait onto the prawning rod

Ken hooking the bait onto the prawning rod

Prawning: Ken waiting for a prawn to catch the bait

Prawning in action!

Prawning: Ken smiling for the camera

Smiling for the camera

First Prawn, Caught!

It didn’t take long — like one minute? — before he successfully caught a prawn. In comparison, a lady who was prawning in the pool before us sat for over five minutes without catching anything! Either Ken was a prawning pro or he got lucky there.

Prawning: First prawn caught!

First prawn caught. Check out its “legs” (periopods?) as marked by the two red arrows. They were really long!

Prawning: Unhooking the prawn

The helper unhooking the prawn from the rod for Ken

Prawning: Pail with one prawn

Dumped into a pail… Notice its “legs” broke during the “struggle”. One was tossed away while the other was left inside the pail.

Sadness

While I was quite excited when Ken caught his first prawn since I’ve never prawned before, I quickly felt a wave of sadness as Ken promptly caught a second prawn in the next minute, followed by a third one after another two minutes.

Prawning: Second prawn caught

The second prawn, captured

Prawning: Prawn struggling

The poor prawn struggling as Ken removed the hook from its mouth. There was no way it could have won against him.

Prawning: Two prawns in the pail

Prawn #2, dumped into the pail with his friend. Looks like his “legs” broke off in the scuffle too. :/

Prawning: Baiting the prawns

Back to baiting for prawns…

Prawning: Another prawn, caught!

Yet another prawn going for the bait for food, unaware that it was a trap…

Prawning: Close-up of prawn #3

Close-up of prawn #3

Prawning: Unhooking another prawn

The assistant yanking the hook out of prawn #3′s mouth…

Prawning: Three prawns and counting

Prawn #3, dumped into the pail with his two now-almost-dead friends

Why was I sad? I don’t know.

Maybe it was from seeing the prawns struggle as they were yanked out of their homes — the pool — by the rod. Maybe it was from empathizing the pain the prawns had to be going through from being dangled off a rod by their mouths, having a sharp hook ripped out of their tiny mouths, and then carelessly tossed into a pail to die. Maybe it was from seeing the prawns get hurt as they struggled in vain (two prawns had their “legs” broken off while one’s mouth was damaged from the unhooking).

Maybe it was the knowingness that as much as these prawn struggle, they (and their friends) were never going to stand a chance against the humans planning to eat (and in the process kill) them.

Beginning to Cry

As Ken went back for his next catch, I started to cry. Not the loud boo-hoo-hoo type of crying of course, but just silent tears rolling down my face.

I busied myself with photo taking so no one would notice me crying. Ken was oblivious as he was concentrating on his prawning, while one of the prawning assistants saw me crying and kept looking over. I think he probably thought I was crazy. XD

After a few minutes, Ken looked over and finally saw that I was crying. He instantly guessed that it was because of the prawns, stopped prawning right away, and told the assistants he was done. They were surprised since he still had time left on the clock, but he told them it was okay and he didn’t want to continue anymore.

While the assistants were helping him to pack the three prawns Ken caught, we briefly discussed if it was feasible to release those prawns. But we realized it wasn’t because (a) releasing them back into the prawning site meant they would be “caught” by other people at some point, leading to the same fate of pain and death, and (b) their body parts were already damaged when Ken fished them out, so they wouldn’t be able to survive even if we were to release them “into the wild”. Not to mention that the conditions in the seas would be different from whatever they had been accustomed to, which meant an even lower chance of survival.

It was basically the end of the road for the poor prawnies. So I told Ken to just take them home and cook them for (his) dinner, so that at least their suffering/death wouldn’t have been in vain.

Prawning: Ken with the prawns

Ken with his “prize”: three prawns from a few minutes of prawning

Prawning: Feeling sad for the prawns

Me, with my tears and tissue

Prawning: Ken and Celes

Us with a final shot to commemorate the day. Ken said he had no mood to smile because I was crying.

Prawning: Ken and Celes, smiling this time

Another try, smiling this time :)

As we were leaving, a family came to check out the prawning site. For some reason their baby girl freaked out and cried (maybe she felt sad for the prawns too? >.<), after which her dad carried her away.

Prawning: Baby girl being carried away by her dad

Baby girl being carried away by her dad

Random Musings

I don’t normally write about things like preventing animal cruelty and feeling compassion for animals on PE (even though I feel that way), but I thought this experience is a nice chance to share this message with all of you.

I talk a fair bit about showing compassion for humans on the blog, but truth is, compassion isn’t limited to just humans: it’s a universal quality that extends to animals and other beings too. I believe quite a few readers here on PE are animal lovers: just to name a few long-time readers, reader Susan has a dog named Cody, Sharon recently got a new pup named Pepper, while Laurel has a horse (you can see her horse in her PE forum avatar, even!).

I myself don’t have any pets (years of rearing fish and tortoises when young made me realize that I should not have a pet unless I’m 100% sure I can create an environment where it can thrive and live a long life). Maybe in the future I’ll have a pup or cat, but I don’t see it happening soon since I’m not ready for that kind of commitment yet.

Maybe as we continue to live a life of excellence and care for humans, we should also think about how be more compassionate towards other living beings too. This may not come in the form of switching to a fully plant-based diet (I don’t necessarily advocate for veg*nism anyway, but for people to eat whatever they want and feel is best for their body), but it can come in the form of:

  1. Being mindful of food wastage (food wastage means causing harmful to the environment and wasting the lives sacrificed in the process of making your meal possible)
  2. Having a less meat-heavy diet (it’s healthier too!)
  3. Supporting organizations that are cruelty-free
  4. Consuming free-range produce and livestock (whatever little helps)

It’s all about the little things we can do, one at a time.

I found this article particularly inspiring: Carnist Challenge: Making Meat-Eating Cruelty-Free. It’s written by someone who admits he’s not ready to give up meat, but he cares enough to make little changes — even if small — to reduce animal cruelty in the world. Because every little bit matters.

(Oh, as for the prawns, Ken eventually cooked them for a prawn-noodle meal.)

Dead, uncooked prawns

The prawns, now completely dead

Prawn noodles

…and here’s Ken’s prawn-noodle meal. (Ken was afraid to show me the picture because he was worried I’d cry, but I told him my sadness was only at the point when the prawns were caught/struggling because of their helplessness and untimely demise.)

And You?

That’s all I have to say. How about you?

What are your views about compassion, and compassion for animals?

Do you happen to have a pet?

Sound off in the comments section.


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  • Susan

    I love love love my dog Cody! He changed my life. I despise poor treatment of helpless pets. I make a difference by training my son to be kind to the dog, and explaining to him that the dog will have a better life if he never knows about cruelty.

  • Sandy

    I love animals and the environment (but I do like to eat my meat). I have a medium sized dog named Maxie, he’s the family pet but I quietly claim his as mine :D since he chills out with me when I come from work in the evening but then he goes upstairs to sleep with the rest of the family when I get ready for bed. I try to encourage my family to be more environmentally concious (less disposable cups and utensils and more actually using the glass dish ware we have and just washing them). And we try to get organic and free range ingredients when we can but sometimes they are just too expensive to buy enough to feed a family of four :( .

  • Fufu

    Me and my girlfriend are 100% animal lovers. She’s even studying to be a veterinarian (her long-life dream) while I’m partially a vegetarian but not fully as I am skinny because of my fast metabolism and need meat to keep the few muscles I have or I’ll get sick. (I got sick once in middle school and lost a whole month of school because of lack of nutrition because I kept rejecting certain foods I didn’t like such as meat and carrots).

    If I were there I would had probably cried too… I hate fishing because I have to see the fish die and it breaks my heart. Some chefs cook their crabs, chickens and pigs alive but I don’t have the heart for that.

    Heck, when you posted the status in Facebook about the prawns I felt sad reading it :( and I don’t know if this happens to you but even when I have to kill a roach or even more dangerous a rat I can not see it and less hear it as those poor animals having to be killed but in the end of the day if we don’t kill rats they might kill us from their pee or something. Thank you for today’s article :”)

    • Fufu

      and ever since I got my female chihuahua Michi I started loving animals and a small cause I do to help animals in need is to feed street dogs and cats. When I was in school I would bring a bag of dog food in my backpack each day and kneel down feeding all of the skinny and dirty dogs. People would look at me weird and once the principal scolded me for it but I didn’t care and kept doing it till the day I graduated. Thankfully one of the teachers was an animal lover too so he washed them at least once a month and fed them too. :)

      Right now I have a stray cat who gave birth to a cute kitty in my backyard and I’m feeding the mom, dad and baby and as usual my neighbors look at me weird xD

      Makes us wonder why do people see the act of feeding stray animals as weird?? o-O

      • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

        Hey Fufu! I think the rationale for discouraging feeding of stray animals is that they will not learn to get their own food but will instead rely on humans to supply food. So in the situation where the people supplying the food disappear, the animals will have difficulty adjusting back / finding their own food and may die as a result. Or they may end up “harassing” / approaching other people for food which may result in undesirable circumstances.

        In Singapore there are many strays, and we are taught since young not to feed them for that reason. It does make sense to me; unless I’m in the position where I can feed a stray permanently (like it lingers outside my home all the time in which case it’s like a semi-pet), I would leave the strays by themselves.

        That’s very compassionate of you to feed those skinny dogs by the way! Did you ever ask your principal why he/she disapproved of you feeding them?

        When did you get a chihuahua?? Care to share a picture of Michi with us?? :)

        • Fufu

          Really?? :O My gosh I never thought about it like that. In Puerto Rico feeding a stray dog is usually seen as a good deed (but which people are embarrassed to do in public) so I’ve never considered that option. Thank you for the insight.

          I usually feed them because I know that I will never see those dogs/cats ever again, in those cases I don’t think it will cause them to get used to rely on a human. I feed them because I start wondering how long has it been since that animal even ate and if I can reduce it’s pain for even a day I might had saved them from hunger for at least a week, as animals can survive for longer periods of time with only one portion of food.

          About the school principal, he scolded me because he didn’t want the stray dogs to remain in school grounds and if I fed them they would keep returning or sleeping around because they knew they would be fed but even when they weren’t fed the dogs still wandered around the place for a whole year so I don’t think it would make a difference anyways :p unless they where around because the teacher who is an animal lover fed them and bathed them since before I arrived anyways.

          and about MIchi., I got herwhen I was in 9th grade. My first pet, she’s really shy and loving but behaves amazing. I hope the picture is visible :)

  • Laurel Labuskes

    Thanks for the shout-out Celes! *blushing* Compassion for animals can be a complex subject, because many people tend to go to extremes and either anthropomorphize animals or treat them as objects. I’ve been fascinated by the work of Temple Grandin ever since I read her book “animals make us human”. She’s dedicated her life to studying exactly how animals think and feel from a scientific perspective, and made many improvements in the U.S. meat industry.

    Since animals are such a big fixture in my life, I try to think of their needs on a species level, rather than what I like. For example: on a cold snowy day my horses would rather move around outside in their field, than be cozy inside which is what I’d want, because that’s their nature.

    BTW, I now also have a bouncing baby kitten! <3

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Aw you do, Laurel!! Do share the picture of your baby kitty with us here, if you don’t mind?? You can attach pictures in the Disqus comments if you don’t already know!!

      How many horses do you have, and where do you reside with your horses at the moment? Is it common for people to rear horses where you live?

      (In Singapore dogs/cats are the more common pets; horses as pets/companions are literally unheard of, I guess due to the limited land area!)

      • Laurel Labuskes

        Hi Celes! I live in western Pennsylvania, not far from Pittsburgh. Horses as companions/recreational animals aren’t as common as dogs and cats, but it’s usually not hard to find a place to take riding lessons, or meet someone who has horses. Land is quite inexpensive here, because it is not in high demand and the region is still very agricultural. This makes owning horses relatively affordable because the land is available for pasture and growing hay ( horses’ primary diet). They still aren’t cheap, but definitely within reach of a middle-income family who is willing to make the commitment, though I can understand how it might be a true luxury in a highly-urban place like Singapore!

        I have two horses of my own, Iris, the horse in my avatar pic, who is 5, and her mother Belle who is 12 ( horses in general live to be around 30 years, so both are rather young still!) I can’t keep them at my house, so I board them at a stable not to far away, where I work to pay off the boarding fee.

        Below is a picture of Taz, our kitten. She is about 11-12 weeks old now, we’re not sure because she was a stray. (BTW, she is now indoor-only, and will be spayed when she is old enough!) Also included is a more recent picture of Iris (left) and Belle (right). Sorry for the marathon post!

        • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

          Aw wow, Taz is utterly adorable with her big eyes while Iris and Belle are absolutely gorgeous!!! How often do you take Iris and Belle out for a ride?

          (Where is Iris’ father, by the way?)

          • Laurel Labuskes

            I try to ride each of them 3-4 times a week. They need the exercise and mental stimulation, but sometimes work or weather interferes. That’s actually a commitment I’ve made to ride at least one of them everyday barring extreme circumstances, so good so far! In autumn and winter I ride mostly in the arena on the farm or in the big field in the background, which is about a half-mile/kilometer to circle, which helps me track their fitness. In the summer, I also ride the local trails which go through woods and trails, though they are too steep to ride when it is muddy or icy.

            Iris’ father was owned by the person I bought Belle from, and she was pregnant at the time I brought her home. I don’t know if he is still living– he was an older horse at the time, and his owner didn’t take very good care of his horses. :( If he is still alive, he would be 33 this year. He is/was grey, the same color as Iris. Grey horses are born a solid color (brown or black) and gradually lighten as they get older. Her father was almost pure white when I saw him, and Iris will probably turn the same.

  • Cary

    I have always been a big animal lover!! Like the little girl mentioned in the post, I got really upset when, around age 4, I was informed that meat was dead animals :( After that I refused to eat it (which was very frustrating for my parents because I was a very picky eater in general :P ). I decided to become vegan after starting college, and it’s been over a year now and I just love it! I don’t want food to be the center of my life, though, so I try not to be obsessive about it. I believe that everyone should eat the diet that they’re most comfortable with, and being vegan just really works for me. It’s one thing that I really feel like I’m doing right in my life and have no regrets about :)

    But I do find it annoying when people try to tell me that being vegan is unhealthy. They tell me I’m not getting enough vitamin B12 or iron, when my morning cereal and soymilk meet half of my daily recommended amounts for both of those. I suppose it’s just really annoying in my case, because before I became vegan I lived on toast, chocolate, and potato chips and no one ever said anything (well, except my mother :P ), but after I became vegan and actually started eating vegetables for the first time in my life, suddenly I’m in danger of anemia -_-” I guess the people who try to tell me that don’t know anything about my previous or current diet, but it still gets on my nerves a bit :/

    I’m happy to see a post like this though! I think if people educate themselves and really think about their choice, and still decide they’re okay with eating meat/animal products, that’s totally fine! But if you’re living a lifestyle you’re comfortable with, you shouldn’t feel the need to attack or make fun of others about theirs. Whenever I find myself feeling defensive in response to others’ choices, I take that as a sign that I may not be 100% happy with what I’m doing about it.

    • vesna

      I am also all for the vegan diet. However I was a vegan for 6 years (vegeterian 9 years), not a very smart vegan. I didn’t take any vitamin suplements or really check if I get all the required nutrition thorugh my diet. After 6 years my B12 levels were so low I had to take B12 shots. Now I continue to eat vegan, but every once in a while I buy myself some cheese (from private farms, where they have happy cows that spend their days out on the grass), beacuse shots or vitamin tablets are not much help to my organism. My point is, take care of your vitamin B12 levels, take some b12 vitamin suplements, so you won’t have the same problems as I did and check your levels frequently. I don’t want to lecture … but I was really angry at myself for not taking care of this sooner…
      I hope some day I will be able to go back to a completely vegan diet. In the meantime I try to do my best. I do not eat store bought cheese and I try to find a way which is most harmless towards the animals.
      I completely agree with the article, you don’t have to go vegan or vegetarian…but you can make an effort to do the best you can. That matters the most.

  • Aliza

    I completely understand your response Celes! I would totally be distressed by the idea of prawning too – especially when you see them struggle and have legs falling off (and find it difficult to understand how someone else would not be distressed by it.. :/ ). For this reason I also find it really hard to kill spiders!

    It’s funny though – I’m not vegetarian – I’m ok eating meat/ fish but I’m only ok with it because I am somehow able to detach the “living animal-ness” label from it and just see it as a seemingly disconnected entity – “food”.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      That’s so compassionate of you re: spiders, Aliza! I don’t think I would kill a spider if I were to see one, but I would certainly be somewhat scared by it too!

      (Total side note: I once met a reader who is absolutely petrified by spiders, while I myself am petrified by worms. I find it funny that us humans, the species that has probably killed more beings than any other species in the duration of our existence, have fears of tiny creatures which are probably a million times more scared of us than us of them!)

      I understand what you’re saying about the detachment about the food being once from a living animal. I actually used to be that way. I would hear about vegetarians and the whole non-animal-cruelty message, and I would think these people were crazy because: (a) how would ONE person becoming vegetarian/not eating meat/eating less meat make any difference in this animal eating world? and (b) the food I saw was simply food; I never associated it with living animals before.

      That meat was clearly from a living animal and the tight associations I got between dead meat and death of a live being only came months/years after I became a vegetarian. (I tried vegetarianism for the experience, continued on as I felt it was better for me, and and remained so permanently for non-cruelty reasons.) I suppose it’s quite hard to describe that too to people don’t *don’t* eat meat; it’s probably something that only vegetarians can associate. I probably would have never felt nor thought this way if I was still eating meat!

  • JadePenguin

    Well, I’m vegan because I can’t condone what’s happening in the whole animal industry. I’d be fine with eggs/milk from a small farm where no animals are killed or mistreated but not gonna buy anything animal from a supermarket! I may not be the one dealing the killing blow but if I wouldn’t do it myself, why let someone else do the dirty work?? It’s so easy to detach yourself from the reality if all you see is a clean bit of juicy meat or an innocent-looking egg.

    I definitely think this relates to personal excellence. I feel so much more committed to living my best life by being as ethical as possible. It’s sometimes effort but it feels (spiritually) fulfilling to have made a dish without cruelty as an ingredient :)

    Don’t have pets and don’t want any. Too much effort to take care of one! It also looks like a pretty boring restricted life. My mum’s cat was really playful as a kitten but now she’s so lazy she’d probably ignore a group of mice partying next to her…

    I prefer animals in the wild, doing their own thing, being cute/funny/playful/whatever so I can “hunt” them with my camera ;)

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Haha, I heard that kittens grow up really fast! Like after six months to a year, they become full cats and stop being the little cute furry balls they were as kittens! Many of the people I stayed with when abroad have kittens, so I had the luxury of hanging out with cats ranging from few-month-old kitties to old cats! I totally understand what you mean about your mom’s cat being lazy now! ;)

      On a side point in response to your comment about animals in the wild, I once had a conversation with this vegan who explained his disdain for zoos. He said that if he were an animal, he would want to be out there in the wild, not being caged at for people to look at him every day and to be taken photos of without his consent/interest. I thought he had an interesting point, though I can’t say that I fully agree about the whole no-zoo stance. I see benefits of having the animals (especially endangered ones) in a safe enclosure and kept in good care (especially if the zoos take proper care of the animals, which the Singapore Zoo prides itself at doing).

  • Jen

    Thank you Celes, for another thought provoking article.

    I am not sure it is out of compassion but I literally no longer able to consume most of the animal as food since years ago after realising how animals being tormented/treated before becoming our food eventually. Except chicken and sea food I still unable to let go completely. I am in the process of consciosuly cutting down my consumption for chicken and seafood whenever possible. I hope to achieve my goal of 95% vege and 5% meat (chicken/seafood) in my Plate. Who knows I might be becoming a FULL vegetarian one day, but not now :)

  • Marie

    As city folks, we are not used to raising, catching or even hunting for our food to survive. We go to supermarkets and meats are prepared for cooking or eat in restaurants where food is served ready on your plate.

    The activity you just did is normal to others who have to hunt or catch in order to eat.

    Being vegan is an option now. There are so many you can eat. Enjoy.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Hi Marie, what a great point. I think most people’s detachment about how their diets even contribute to animal cruelty comes from the fact that they are not involved in the whole procurement and creation process of their meals. Hence, they see their food (meat or not) as literally just food, void of what had to happen in order for the food they see to appear on their tables.

      I suspect that if more of us are aware of the behind-the-scenes creation process of our meals, we would probably be more conscious about our food choices. For now, what we can do is to simply spread the message of compassion and to lead by example through our actions and words. Every little bit counts!

  • http://NoMoreHoldingBack.com/ Larry Hochman

    Are you familiar with Martin Buber? He was the early psychologist who gave us the concept of “I, It” and “I, Thou.” Our relationships with others (including animals) are either one of connection where we value the other, or object, where it is part of our environment to be manipulated. Of course it is on a continuum, but essentially our relationships are one or the other. I think we know where the prawns were.

    Of course the value of things (and people) isn’t just about their relationship to us, anymore than our own value is dependent on others. But it explains why people can eat animals without the discomfort of taking a life.

    And of course, evolutionarily speaking, we are omnivores. That may evolve, but our need for protein has come from animals for almost all of human history. Personally, I respect someone more who is willing to kill their own than someone who gets theirs from a shelf and removes themselves from the cycle of life process.

  • Felize Lee-Sim Fenni

    I have become a vegetarian four years ago. My husband has also joined me to be a vegetarian since he knew me 1 and a half years ago. He also agreed that being a vegetarian is the only way to self-sustainable living.

    But it is only nowadays I would allow him to have his meat (once in a while) when he is out with his friends and when there’s supply of it (for e.g. buffets, coming to my place for dinner whereby my mom would cook salmon) .

    Most of the time, he would have vegetarian food with me and also cooked
    tasty and delicious vegetarian dishes. Except when he cooked for his
    parents, he would cooked some meat additionally for them.
    I do not want to be too imposing on him or judge him when he eats meat. And sometimes he eats in order to not disappoint the person who is cooking.

    I would like to know your take on this. :)

  • Mikey

    I’m proud of your compassion for other living beings. This is also something I’ve become more cognisant of in the past year. I think it’s better than good to have a heart for this.

    I also noticed that you mentioned about the unfair process in your words “Maybe it was the knowingness that as much as these prawn struggle, they (and their friends) were never going to stand a chance against the humans planning to eat (and in the process kill) them.”

    Something that’s been on my mind is whether living beings die in a relatively ecological process vs. whether they are harvested. As a now-vegetarian too, at least I feel that I could understand if they die in an ecological process, but disagree on the harvesting.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Hey Mikey, I hear you. I once had a brief conversation with some people during my travels, about where I stand about dairy that is naturally obtained (natural milking of cows’ udders) vs. purposefully created (dairy industries which breed cows/goats/etc. purely for their milk under inhumane conditions plus injecting growth hormones and what not).

      My answer is that if the dairy is naturally obtained in the natural course of the cow’s life, then sure, why not? But it’s another thing altogether when industries are purposely set up and environments are erected, breeding animals under inhumane conditions purely to steal them of their produce and eventually kill them (in torturous manners) so as to eat them. I think that’s probably my biggest grievance with regards to the meat/dairy industries today.

      Non-animal cruelty aside, I have also — from my own personal experience — found being a vegetarian/vegan to be better for me both physically and mentally. I do find myself operating at a higher mental clarity and feeling lighter/less sluggish on a plant-based diet. From my understanding, many report the same experience under a veg*n diet. Not saying that this is the way to go for everyone, but simply to share a benefit I experienced (and one of the reasons why I stayed a vegetarian after experimenting it for 30 days in 2008).

      • Mikey

        Can’t agree more on both points, Celes!

        I tried out “Green Monday” that eventually became Green Everyday out of compassion to other living beings, but benefits such as feeling lighter and higher mental clarity makes it easy to keep me going. :)

  • Gladys Cruz

    What a great article on compassion. I,too am an animal lover. I cannot stand animal cruelty.
    I enjoy reading about you and Ken. Thank you

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Thank you so much for taking time to leave this comment, Gladys! :)

  • stacey_dream

    Celes, thanks so much for this post! My eyes filled up with tears when I was reading it! I go along with you – the way people treat animals nowadays is some kind of a discrimination, not that different from chauvinism, racism and nationalism. For some reason we think that our pets are family members and we cry when they die, but at the same time we kill other animals without a blink of an eye and eat them, wear them, maybe just throw them away… This problem is driving me crazy, I always cry whenever I even think of animal cruelty. I wish more people at least realized it once in a while! Thanks again for raising this topic! Hugs! xoxoxo

  • Madalina Sraier

    I completely agree that compassion isn’t reserved only for humans. This is actually one of the most important Buddhist teachings: to show compassion to all sentient beings, which means *everything* that breaths, that has life in it (so, obviously, not only human-beings).

    I love animals of all kinds, I even had a cat for a short while, but I gave up on the kitten because I felt couldn’t take care of it as I should have. Just like you said, I don’t want to have a pet unless I am 100% sure that I can take proper care of it and create a pleasant environment for the pet to live in.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Aw sorry to hear about the kitten Lina, but at the same time I’m happy that you chose to gave it up because you recognized that you couldn’t care for it as it should have. What happened to it in the end? Did you give it away to someone else?

      • Madalina Sraier

        Yes, it got a new owner now. :)

  • Linda

    Being a vegetarian I can definitely relate to your story. Thank you for sharing!

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Thank you for sharing too, Linda! :)

  • http://hackmyheart.com/ Calae

    This is an idea I struggle with. Not because I don’t think animals deserve our compassion (I do), but because I just can’t seem to care enough to change my diet because of it. Honestly, it’s probably a convenience thing for me — I don’t want to deal with other people bugging me about how a vegetarian or vegan diet is unhealthy, and I don’t want to seem rude if I don’t eat dishes prepared at other people’s houses. Also, sometimes I really do crave meat; I’m sure it’s the nutrition in the meat and I could get it from other sources, but that’s usually the easiest way I could get those nutrients.

    I realize these are really bad excuses, and I know if it was truly important to me I could do it, but I just don’t think I’m at a good time in my life right now to do something like changing my diet. As selfish as it is, I ignore it for my own benefit.

    Honestly realizing this about myself makes me really sad. =( But on the bright side, I really don’t have meat all that often, so at least my consumption is low if nothing else!

    • Mikey

      There’s also a middle-ground. Some places call it meat-free Monday, and some call it Green Monday. The idea is to consistently go meat-free on Mondays (or make up on Tuesday or Weds if you forgot). Just committing one day a week is much better than none. :)

  • Susan Olbery

    Compassion is good for the soul anywhere anytime.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Word, Susan! :)

  • Sharon Cheng

    I concur with your sentiments! Celes! :) shared this :)

    • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

      Aw thank you Sharon! Much appreciated!! :)

  • http://personalexcellence.co/ Celestine Chua

    The drawings are incredibly beautiful, Julie, and they tell a thousand words. Thank you so much for sharing them with the readers here, Julie!