Why I stopped eating animals and why you should too - by Emma Gilbertson

Ever since I was a little girl I can remember liking animals. I remember one time that me and my Mum picked up a spider in an Early Learning Centre magnifying glass box, and I made my Mum walk three miles back to where I had found it because I didn’t want it to lose its children. I think all children are similar in this respect, we are naturally compassionate, we relate to others and have a very solid idea of what’s right and wrong. But as we get older being empathetic becomes inconvenient and it’s easy to forget what we knew as children.

I’ve never really considered myself a bad person per say. I look out for others and try to be kind. However, I never really cared that something right under my nose and as simple as eating my dinner could be contributing to such an evil enterprise. But to be honest a lot of us don’t, because it is very easy to be ignorant in this world. My boyfriend (Josh) was vegetarian and I would roll my eyes when he shared videos of animals being slaughtered and think it was a singular case. But honestly the way I felt was that it didn’t affect me, so I didn’t care. I know that this is how a lot of people feel. That if they were to be responsible for killing the meat that they eat they wouldn’t be able to do it.

About a year ago I stumbled across "Earthlings" and after about 10 minutes I was crying and shaking. My ignorant behaviour was staring me in the face as I had been contributing to the suffering of millions. Animals were lined up for miles on end as they churned through the machine not even knowing what life was or how it felt to be free but instead they were treated as a product that was unable to feel or think. I vowed to never eat meat again at that point but I also fell into a depression. I lost faith and understanding of this world…

The worst thing was that I screwed up a few times in the beginning, I ate meat and at first it was so easy to switch back into the routine of being desensitised. But luckily the guilt came back to me as I remembered the saddened faces of cows lining up.

One of my main passions in life is making films, but even making films began to feel redundant in comparison to the way I had began to feel about this world. Making films had began to feel very shallow in a world where suffering was happening.  I spoke to Josh about it about how making fiction films didn’t feel right to me anymore. I wanted to make the truth of our actions ring true to people. To turn off the illusion so that we can turn off the suffering. I wanted to do something about it.

It was purely by chance that I heard about BBC RAW but I did and that’s why I created this film called Who’s the Animal with Josh (on no budget!) because I wanted to do something. Because if nothing in this world matters then all we do is what matters.

Viva! gave me gifts when we made the film, membership and encouragement and I really like them and support their campaigns for animals.

I still get scared when people ask me why I stopped eating meat. I feel like I get judged when I’m honest, even with family members and close friends. It’s in my experience that people do not like their opinion or behaviour to be challenged. It does make for an easier life to not challenge people’s opinions but that is lazy and doing the right thing is not always easy. So if people ask me now I tell them exactly why I don’t eat meat and if they are uncomfortable with it well quite frankly it’s not my problem. Also if it makes them uncomfortable then hopefully it will make them consider their actions more.

I’ll end on this note: If you feel the same about wanting to change how people perceive animals. Then do something. Sometimes it’s scary to be brave and stand up for what is right. But speak for those who don’t have a voice such as the animals. Because I gurantee, it’s a thousand times scarier for them. 

By Emma Gilbertson

Emma Gilbertson and Josh Luck made Who’s the Animal? for BBC RAW