Often, when asked why I chose to become a vegetarian, I would say that it is not for religious reasons. I am not a Buddhist or anything. The choice was made on humanitarian grounds. The primary reason for me to choose not to eat meat, fish and eggs and drink milk was that I did not want my diet preference to lead to animals being killed or having to suffer. Of course, as I was to find out along the way, there were so many other side benefits, such as good health, spiritual growth, environmental friendliness, getting to know great people who are vegetarians, etc. But they are just the icing on the cake. Animal welfare is my prime concern.
One of my often used examples of cruelty in meat eating that eventually caused me to make up my mind to go veg is the way fish vendors sell their goods. In order to show that the fishes are fresh, they would take them out of the water, put them on a rattan basket and let them wriggle. That, to them, is a good way to advertise. How the fishes suffer as they gasp in agony probably never crossed the minds of the sellers and buyers alike. To me, it is bad enough that the fish is to be eaten, it is even worse that it has to suffer like that before being slaughtered.
Sadly, it is very much in our culture to eat animals in the most horrifying ways. This Youtube video, called "The Crying Fish", shows a fish whose body had been cooked but was somehow left to live, again as a way to highlight its "freshness". What the cook did was to wrap the head with a wet towel and dip the body in burning oil to deep fry. Again, the pain of the fish was hardly the concern of anyone. The way those callous diners in the video laughed and 'poked' (pun intended) fun at the miserable fish was simply disgusting!
And I bet the fish did cry during the horrendous process of torture, thus the name of the video?