A vegetarian view on those poor piglets

Full disclosure: I am a pregnant vegetarian. I’ve been emotional about this all day. If you fall into either of those categories, maybe skip this.

Maybe you heard this story today. If you don’t want the full details, it’s about some piglets who were saved from a fire, and later served to their firefighters as sausages.

I read the story on the BBC site earlier while looking for something else. I saw the headline and thought, no, that must be wrong. It’s too cruel. I shouldn’t have clicked the link, but I did. And I read it and I had to go to the loos at work and cry.

I became a vegetarian for two reasons. Here they are:

Gingee the brown rabbit

Ned the white rabbit

The brown one is Gingee and the white one is Ned. Gingee is bossy and clever and thinks he’s in charge of everything. Ned is tiny and affectionate and can run faster than the speed of light. And it’s a pure accident of birth that they ended up being born as rabbits who became pets rather than meat rabbits.

When we first got them, people (friends, colleagues, people who thought they were being funny) used to ask me whether I’d ever eat rabbit. What I’d do if rabbit were served to me. What if it were these rabbits? And, at the time, I did eat meat.

I heard that question one too many times. My husband made me a bacon sandwich one day and it hit me what it was. I sobbed for about an hour. “I think you need to go vegetarian,” my husband prompted me. “You really don’t seem comfortable with meat any more.”

He had a point. I still eat fish sometimes (mostly due to research suggesting it’s beneficial during pregnancy), but am generally a very happy veggie now – and, I’m proud to say, so is my husband. He doesn’t eat fish, but he never did. He started by cutting out chicken, and finally cut out all meat in about February this year.

So we’re happy and at peace with our consciences. It doesn’t stop me feeling upset about stories like this, though.

Those poor piglets. They must have feared for their life – twice. How is it humane to save their lives just to kill them later on?

Pigs feel pain. Pigs feel fear. They see their peers being slaughtered first and they are clever. They know what’s going to happen.

Yes, if it weren’t for the demand for bacon/sausages/pork, maybe those pigs wouldn’t even have been born. But, I guess my question is, would I – would you – rather go through a life of fear and pain before dying young and afraid, or just never have to feel anything at all? Because I think I’d rather the latter.

I know I can’t stop pig farming, or sheep farming, or close down abattoirs. I can’t convince everyone to go vegetarian. But I can be a small part of lessening the demand. I can choose to buy Quorn products when I have a craving for meat. I can choose to put my money towards meat free meal options, so I’m not paying towards the slaughter of these animals. When I serve food to friends or family, I can choose to give them delicious vegetarian meals.

It’s not enough. But if enough of us do it, it might be one day.

Pregnancy books for the neurotic

I’m a bookworm, always have been. So naturally, in lead up to taking a pregnancy test, I filled my Amazon basket with pregnancy books, ready to pull the trigger if and when we saw that second line.

Well, we got the second line, and within a few hours I’d placed my order!

I’m an anxious person and always a bit wary of the unknown, but some of these have helped me. I’ve included Amazon links.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff

I think this is my husband’s favourite of the pregnancy books – in fact, I think it’s currently over on his side of the bed! Whenever I’m feeling something that’s not great (whether it’s an emotion or a pain), he’ll ask if we should get the book out. He always means this one, and, to be honest, we’re always reassured.

A lot of people describe this book as “scare-mongering” – I’ve even found articles in the New York Times about it! But we’ve found it actually to be the opposite. We didn’t read it cover to cover, but instead have dipped in and out as necessary. It’s got a really comprehensive index, and I like that you can look up pretty much every symptom under the sun and find it in there.

What to Eat When You’re Pregnant and Vegetarian, by Dr Rana Conway

This book is great. I love the meal plans and the explanations of what exactly each nutrient does. To be honest, I think it should be mandatory reading for non-pregnant vegetarians as well.

I had such great ideas of the meals we were going to have to ensure baby got all the necessary nutrients. However, within about a week of reading it, I was struck down with constant nausea that meant I couldn’t eat anything but cheese sandwiches for four months. So, yeah. A great book, but it hasn’t been a brilliant success in my life, I’m afraid!

I will say that, even without having the best pregnancy (or pre-pregnancy, let’s be honest!) diet, baby appears to be thriving. It’s made mostly of sandwiches, apple pies and rice krispies, but it’s active and on track. My new motto is, keep on eating and drinking something, take pregnancy vitamins if you can, and chances are baby will be okay.

Mindful Hypnobirthing, by Sophie Fletcher

My favourite of the pregnancy books: Mindful Hypnobirthing

I think this is my favourite of the pregnancy books. I was getting more and more anxious about the idea of birth, and not being in control, and life in general, to be honest. It was still early enough that I hadn’t contacted anyone about birthing classes, but I was still starting to worry a fair bit.

I did a bit of reading around and found the idea of hypnobirthing quite pleasant. It’s not saying that everything will go perfectly which is pretty important to me. I’m a bit of a control freak.

The breathing exercises and mindfulness exercises are good. I’m finding them rather helpful outside of birth, to be honest. It was good for getting through my last blood test (pregnancy is a great time to develop a fear of needles!), and honestly, the slow breathing is helping with my occasionally spasming back. (Pregnancy is so much fun!)

As you can see, I’m making my way through the book and making plenty of notes. I’m maybe approaching this in a slightly too academic fashion!

We shall see whether I’m able to actually use the tools on the day, but I’m feeling more confident, anyway.

The Expectant Dad’s Survival Guide, by Rob Kemp

Pregnancy books for men mostly seem really macho and this seemed to be an exception. I’ve not read this one (it was for my husband, obviously) but he enjoyed it! He did keep on coming up with product recommendations afterwards – “We want rubber tyres on the pushchair!” “Three wheel pushchairs are easier to steer!” etc. Which, considering I hadn’t even thought about any of those things so early on, was quite useful.

So, yeah. Not a bad little selection – I’m sure there’ll be more in the remaining months!

 

So you’re thinking of getting a house rabbit?

I never thought we’d ever have a house rabbit, but now we have three, and we love them so much. I feel like we talk about them constantly.

A lot of people have said, after hearing me talk about them, that they’d like house rabbits themselves. And they can be wonderful and it can be a fantastic decision! But there are the things I don’t tell you, as well. And maybe I’m doing everyone a disservice in not sharing some of the more difficult aspects of being a bunny parent.

So, here’s a quick crash course in getting a house rabbit.

Why do you want a house rabbit?

As far as I can tell, you probably want a house rabbit if you can answer yes to at least one of the following questions.

  1. Do you think that there isn’t enough hay in your house right now? Because within six months, your house will be 80 per cent hay. You can vacuum and sweep as much as you like, but that stuff will get everywhere. You will be cleaning constantly. (All of these pictures I see online of immaculate rabbit homes – I can only assume that they were taken in the three minutes after cleaning. Please let me continue to assume that!)
  2. Do you not have enough worries in your life? Rabbits can help. “Is he eating enough? Why is her urine that colour? Does his stomach usually make that much noise? What were the symptoms of GI stasis again?”
  3. Does it bother you when all of your cables are intact? Your new house rabbit can help! Chewing through cables is a specialty many of them have been working towards their whole lives. And you might even get to make new (human) friends at your local hardware shop when you have to go in every week to buy new phone cords!
  4. Do you like answering the same questions again and again from friends and family? “So, they live inside? Like, in the house?” “You know they eat their own poo, right?” “Aren’t they just really boring pets? Why not get a dog instead?” “Don’t they die really easily?” (Yes, yes, no, we prefer rabbits, and I really hope not!)
  5. Rabbit stuck in a crisp packet

    If crisps are bad for me, how come my head fits the bag so perfectly?

    Do you like being watched mournfully every time you eat anything? Fruit, vegetables, meat, cake, biscuits, crisps… I mean literally anything. For bonus points, do you enjoy not being able to look away from your food for 30 seconds because a greedy bunny might have taken it by the time you’ve looked back? I’ve known my rabbits to lick the salt from the inside of an empty packet of crisps, and even snatch a cookie or a bit of toast directly from my mouth. What can I say, these guys know what they like! (And no, they don’t care that most human food is bad for them. They love grapes, apples and greens but I think they’d still choose chocolate over all of those if given the option.)

  6. Do you like repeating the word “Noooo” more times than if you had an unruly toddler? “Nooo, you don’t need to go in the airing cupboard/climb behind the TV/stop your brother from going on the stairs” are phrases in constant use in our house.
  7. Do you want to have weird barricades all over your house? Now, we didn’t actually intend to have house rabbits. We intended to have rabbits, the outdoor kind that most people expect. But when Ned and Gingee came home, they were so small and we enjoyed spending time with them so much that there was no way they could be sent to live outside. So we ended up doing most of our bunny-proofing as and when needed. So we have raggedy cushions blocking off the TV, boxes under tables to stop eager rabbits hiding there, and many other terribly attractive features in our home. This could be your reality too!
  8. Are you looking for a way to stop taking too many holidays? We’ve not been away for more than a night since we adopted the boys. That was in October 2015. They don’t really like other people and we don’t feel comfortable taking them somewhere for boarding. I know this one is our hang-up in particular, but, yeah. They don’t get left alone very much.
  9. Have you always wanted to be on first name terms with everyone in your local vet surgery? And maybe, if you’re lucky, the not-so-local specialist as well! Rabbits need to go to the vet more than you’d think. They get sick a lot, and if you have a sick rabbit, you could well be there every week. We had a regular weekly slot (Friday at about 5.20) for about two months. When Ned stopped being so sick, we adopted Barbara and she moved right into the Friday vet slot.
  10. Have you got too much money lying around? Vet bills can add up quickly. If you get lucky and end up with special needs bunnies, insurance might not help. And rabbit health problems usually need to be dealt with immediately – so if she gets sick at night, that’s the out-of-hours vet.

Wait, there is still good stuff about having a house rabbit, right?

But, you know what? Every terrifying, exhausting, why-am-I-holding-a-broom-yet-again moment is worth it.

I wouldn’t exchange these funny little hopping loaves for the cleanest house in the world, the most stress-free life ever, or the ability to eat a meal in peace.

These little guys and girl are our family. There’s no better feeling than when Barbara reaches up to touch noses,  Gingee bops his head against your hand, or Ned demands a cuddle. Watching them interact with each other is so much fun. We have “rabbit parties” at least twice a day, where they run around, climb on us and everyone has a great time.

So, uh, should I get a house rabbit or not?

… Yes. Get two. They like company.

Ned the house rabbit enjoying a cuddle

An introduction to Outnumbered by Bunnies

I have to say, the bunnies and I are not sure what to write here.

I’ve never been too good at the starts! I usually like to jump straight in when I’m writing and then get my introduction together later, but that feels a little abrupt here.

So here’s a very (very!) brief introduction to us.

We are two humans and one seven-ninths of a human (due to make a début in November), sharing a house with three exuberant house rabbits.

We look forward to talking to you more!