Lately it seems my Facebook feed has been inundated with announcements of my previously vegetarian friends getting back on meat. The status update is typically met with lots of 'likes', lots of congrats, and lots of invitations to head out for a parma*
Putting my vego ideals beside, I've been wondering what is it their friends are really celebrating? 'My friend had a really strong, personal conviction about something they believed in, but now they can't be bothered keeping it up'? Or, 'Thank god, one less person to make me feel guilty about cage eggs'?
I commented on one announcement with a simple, 'I couldn't do that'. Not judging, but in genuine bewilderment. There are so many reasons I choose to live a vegetarian lifestyle, how could I possibly turn my back on them?
But then I remembered. I remembered 18-year-old Lucy, when all her friends slowly but surely, began to leave the Pentecostal church, turning to her youth pastor and declaring, 'I could never do that.' Followed by a desperate attempt to reason - 'I guess they didn't love Jesus as much I do'.
Okay - I'm getting to my point. I did leave the church, and it was a massive decision. I'd identified as a Christian for 23 years, and giving up the title was difficult, but it didn't change who I was. And my friends, who have returned to their pre-vege lifestyle, haven't changed. They're still the same people.
If we're not defined by our values, what are we defined by? We're not defined by how we look, or where we live. We're not defined by how much money we earn, or how many friends we have. We can't even say we're defined by our words, or our actions, because they only ever paint half the picture at best.
I like to think we're defined by our heart - by our capacity to love. I gave up church, but I still love people, I still love the world. I still live to share love with whoever I can. I could give up being a vegetarian and still love animals. I could still be an advocate for animal rights, and I could still be the parent of the happiest, healthiest dog in the park. I would still be me (but I couldn't do that).
Not to encourage you to all go out and throw away your passions, your convictions, your beliefs, but just to remind you - Barack Obama changed his value on gay marriage. Richard Muller changed his beliefs on climate change. I changed my mind about eating a McDonalds double quarter pounder with cheese. Never be afraid to question what you believe in, and check that your 'value' matches your heart.
(*or parmie, depending if you're in Tasmania or Victoria).