We are the only species with the power to destroy the earth and also the capacity to protect it. – Dalai Lama


Sahar Moussa

You don’t eat meat, chicken or fish? How are you surviving? Are you a Buddhist or Hindu? Why should you deprive yourself from the pleasures that God created?! Are you on a diet? Do you eat cheese, eggs or drink milk? Are you crazy?  These are some of the comments that I hear whenever I’m invited to a restaurant by my friends, at a family dinner or at the office.

Just for the record – I’m surviving perfectly without eating meat, chicken or fish.  I’m not Buddhist or Hindu. I’m not depriving myself from anything because it’s totally my choice, and eating fruits vegetables, whole grains, etc is a pleasure for me. I’m not on a diet to lose weight. I’m a vegetarian and not a vegan (yet), so I still do eat cheese and labneh. And yes, I’m crazy because I have to explain myself every time I’m asked how and why I’m vegetarian.

I have been a vegetarian for almost a year now. First I stopped eating meat and chicken, and a few months later I decided to stop eating fish and eggs.  My father-in-law is a meat-eater – he (along with all his family) just love to eat meat, chicken and fish. He might get sick if one week passes and he didn’t eat any kind of meat (along with his family). The day he found out I had decided to go vegetarian, he went mad, as if I was depriving him from eating all the meat in the world. He couldn’t comprehend that someone in his full mental capacity can willingly stop eating (according to him) all the pleasures that God offers. Every time my husband and I are eating lunch or dinner at his place, he asks me – with a piece of kebab – in his mouth: “Why did you become a vegetarian? Are you insane?”

I became vegetarian for various reasons – one of them is to shrink the dietary carbon footprint and help reduce the climate change effects being caused by emissions of animals bred for their meat. Because according to a report that was published in The Guardian in 2006, the UN calculated that the combined climate change emissions of animals bred for their meat were about 18 percent of the global total – more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together. The figure was revised upward in 2009 by two World Bank scientists to more than 51 percent, but attempts to fully account for meat-eating are condemned as simplistic. In general, livestock’s contribution to climate change can be calculated as low as 5 to 10 percent of global emissions or as high as 50 percent.

Martin Heller of the Center for Sustainable Systems at the University of Michigan simplified the whole idea by saying, “Certainly the way that we produce meat currently and in the quantities that we produce it, it’s much more impactful on the environment from a variety of indicators including carbon footprint, land use and water use.”

The other reason comes from a personal experience – the day I cleansed my body from all kinds of meat and started to live on fruits, vegetables and grains, my skin became shinier and my body became more energetic. Overall, my health is better and I’m cured from a lot of ailments. Kuwait is known as a food capital of the world for its countless choices of restaurants and amazing food. Kuwaitis and expats do eat a lot of meat, chicken and fish. In fact, Kuwait is listed as the second country in the world after the US that eats the most meat.

But at the same time, veganism in Kuwait is on the rise. One proof is an increase in the number of exclusively vegan restaurants in Kuwait, as well as non-vegan restaurants having clearly-marked vegan dishes on their menus, according to Dr Abeer Al-Sharhan, founder of Kuwait Vegan Society.

Being a vegetarian or a meat-eater – it’s totally a personal choice. When I’m invited to a restaurant or to a dinner at a family house, I don’t ask them why you are eating meat, chicken or fish and give them lectures and go mental on them for not eating fruits, vegetables , whole grains, legumes and seeds. I simply respect their food choices and I expect the same from them. So don’t judge me for the way I eat. At the end of the day, you eat your meat and I will eat my vegetables.

By Sahar Moussa