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The goat that woke me up from ignorance

When I visited a good friend of mine who is living in Karamoja in Uganda, I was waken up from my ignorance of animals. Not that I did not like animals. I just had not considered the consequences of my way of living.

In Karamoja, it is seen as an honour and a responsibility to have visiting guests. One of the traditions is to slaughter a goat when guests are coming. According to this tradition, it is the guest who is supposed to cut the carotid artery of the goat.

Goats have fascinated me for quite some time. It is something with their behaviour that is so charming. With a bad feeling, I received a knife in my hand.

The task felt impossible. I did not manage to cut the carotid artery of the goat, even though I used to eat goat’s meat both before and after. One the one hand, I did an education and used my time to learn how to save life, while on the other hand, I was now supposed to end the life of this goat.

The thought of being responsible for taking the life of the goat was to hard for me to bear. A friend of the family did the work for me. The carotid artery was cut and after a while the goat stopped sending signs of life.

But something had happened. The goat had waken me up from my ignorance. Meat wasn’t just meat any more – it was an animal that did not live any more. Even though it did not change my behaviour immediately as I considered it unfeasible to not eat meat or to reduce meat consuption considerable, a thought had started growing.

However, some years later during a stay at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, I realised that it was both very feasible to live without eating meat, and in terms of health consequences also beneficial to be vegetarian compared to also eating meat.

Even though the goat in Uganda had to pay with her or his life, (s)he had left some footprints and saved the life of other animals.

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