Food

My thoughts on vegetarianism (not pushy, I promise!)

I usually tell people I am a vegetarian because it’s easier than explaining my somewhat nuanced way of eating.  I do occasionally eat meat, about 2-3 times a year.  However, I am extremely choosy about where the meat comes from.  I want to know that the animal wasn’t raised on a factory farm.  I want to know it didn’t suffer any of the despicable practices of that industry.  I want to know this both for the animal, which I do not believe should be tortured, and for my health. A really good steak is something I can enjoy at a very fine restaurant extremely occasionally.  Aside from that, I’m perfectly fine not eating meat.  Honestly, I prefer vegetarian cuisine and cooking.  It’s just so much cleaner.

In addition to generally not eating meat, I try to eat at least one vegan meal a day.  In case you don’t know the difference, a vegetarian is a person who does not eat meat but does eat other animal products like dairy and/or eggs.  A vegan is a person who does not eat any animal products at all.  I mostly do this to stop myself from adding cheese to everything.  I really like cheese.

When people find out I’m a vegetarian, they usually have one of three reactions:

  1. Oh, I could never do that!  Just thinking about it makes me want a burger!  (Good for you.)
  2. Pshhh, people are meant to eat meat.  Meat makes you strong! (Not so.)
  3. You should take an iron supplement.  I bet you don’t get enough protein. (Another myth.)

I could argue.  But I usually just change the subject- like you would with religion or politics.  I’ve found that people either already know the reasons for being vegetarian, or they really do not want to know.  They aren’t willing to consider the numerous studies that point to a plant-based diet as the optimal diet for human beings and they certainly don’t want to hear about what goes on in those factory farms.

I have a problem with not wanting to know.  One of the things that was keeping me overweight was not wanting to know.  I didn’t want to know what I weighed, I didn’t want to know what was in my food, and I most certainly didn’t want to know how much I was eating.  Here’s the rub: Not knowing does not change facts.  I think once I did start wanting to know those things, wanting to know how the animal lived before it was killed for my dinner came naturally.  Again, not only for the sake of the animals, but for the sake of my own personal health.  Once I really allowed myself to know, I couldn’t eat that kind of meat anymore.  My desire not to support such a terrible industry far outweighs my desire to eat meat.

Sticking your fingers in your ears and going “La la la la la” will not change anything, it only lets you live in ignorance.  But to each their own.

I know a lot of people are very judgmental about vegetarians and vegans and a lot of that is because of militant activists.  I’m not militant.  I’m doing what I know is right for myself, my body, and the animals.  If you want to eat meat, that’s your business.  Let my vegetarianism be MY business- unless you genuinely want to know more about it. My boyfriend eats meat.  I know this decision is a very personal one and not an easy one for many people.  I suppose I’m lucky that way.  I really, truly prefer meatless eating.

Whether or not eating animals is inherently wrong, and personally I don’t think it is, the way we produce meat is absolutely, without a shred of doubt, terribly wrong.  People usually become quite ill when they really look into this.  I’m not going to post anything here, but just go ahead and Google “factory farming video” if you want to pull your head out of the sand and look your meat in the face.

If you don’t have the stomach for videos but would like to know more about why eating so much meat might not be the greatest idea nutritionally or ethically, here are some great places to start:

Meat:Why Bother?

The Case Against Meat

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations

Of course, Food Inc is an infinitely digestible look at our food system in the US and contains some very disturbing facts about the meat produced by factory farming and the human costs as well.  It’s available on Netflix streaming.

If the idea of going meatless is just too crazy for you, that doesn’t mean there’s no reason to look into this.  By simply reducing your meat consumption you can positively impact your health and the environment.  Seeking out alternative sources of meat, if you can afford it, is a great way to vote with your wallet for the type of food you want to be able to purchase.  You could consider doing something like Meatless Monday where you eat vegetarian meals for one day a week.  This is a great way to explore new recipes and think outside the box at meal time.

A few weeks ago, I asked my boyfriend why he eats so much meat.  His answer was “because I’m used to it and it works for my bodybuilding goals.”  I didn’t press the matter, I just suggested that maybe he doesn’t need to eat so much meat, maybe he could try eating a bit less.  The next time we were at the grocery store, he picked up less meat than usual.  He said he was going to try to eat less meat and see if it makes a difference.  That’s a victory if you ask me!  I don’t think you have to completely give up every animal product to make a difference.  There are many levels of vegetarianism.  Find what works for you.  And if you have a friend who’s a vegetarian, try not to give her a hard time.  My eating habits are personal.  They aren’t meant to reflect negatively or judgmentally on you.

9 thoughts on “My thoughts on vegetarianism (not pushy, I promise!)

  1. What a nice article. I’m a new vegetarian. Only been one for 2 weeks but I love it and I plan on being a veggie forever. I don’t think I could ever feel the right about eat meat again. I still eat eggs and dairy but I try to cut down on it. I do feel guilty about it since the dairy industry is the veal industry and also the poor hens 😦

    1. Congratulations on making the change! I have cut way back on eggs and dairy myself. If you eat very little of these items, you can afford to buy better products. A dozen eggs from the farmer’s market IS pricey. But since I rarely eat them, I think it’s ok. Same goes for dairy. I figure, I’m saving a lot of money by not eating meat. That means I can afford to get organic milk and free-range eggs. Just make sure to research the brand. Just because it says “cage-free” on the package, that doesn’t necessarily mean the hens are kept humanely. Unfortunately, it does require a bit of work to find out what brands you want to support. But I feel like it’s so worth it!

  2. I too have cut back on eating meat ever since hearing about the vastly increased cancer risk from consuming red/ processed meat more than twice a week. I think the tide is slowly turning; people are questioning the ethics of and quality of food produced by factory farming methods. Quality over quantity can be a fantastic trade-off.

    1. I think you’re right. People are a lot more receptive to these ideas than they were when I was a teenager. Reading about the benefits of a plant-based diet in the mainstream media is definitely a step in the right direction.

  3. You don’t know me but I stumbled upon your blog a couple of months ago and have been reading it since. I know that sounds a little creepy but I really love your writing and had a bit of a weight-loss journey myself so found your writing both resonated with and inspired me.

    Anyway, had to comment here cos this topic is something I’m pretty interested in. I’ve been a vego since I was 14 (now 26) and converted for the same reasons as you. Interestingly, and possibly ironically, I had a conversation with a furrier a couple of weeks ago who made many of the same points as you regarding choosing ignorance over knowing full well the suffering you contribute to by supporting an industry that has cruel practices but continuing to support it anyway, yet with a guilty conscience. We both agreed that in choosing to remain ignorant, consumers perpetuate such atrocities (this conversation was in light of the recent expose of Australian live cattle export to Indonesia).
    I have to recommend another good book too: The ethics of what we eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason. I know Singer is considered pretty militant and controversial with his views on animal rights, but it’s a book even the most carnivorous of us can get something out of, as they profile three families with three very different diets, values, and budgets and try to help them make better choices for both themselves and in a broader sense.

    Anyway will stop rambling now 🙂

    1. Definitely not creepy :). I wish more people would stalk my blog!
      I do think that once most people really understand what happens at a factory farm, they at least think twice about eating that meat. Whether people care about the animals or not, and I am fully aware that many do not care, this is something we should all be concerned about for selfish reasons too.
      Thanks for the book recommendation, I will check it out!

  4. I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog! I feel like you do and although I didn’t lose 120 lbs (congrats btw) I noticed a huge change in the way I feel about myself which was the important part. I am also a “mostly” vegetarian unless I cook the meat myself and know where it comes from but my husband eats meat regularly. Your posts are informative and motivational – unfortunately with this you’re usually preaching to the choir but what can I say… I can’t get enough. 🙂 I have a blog, too if you’d like to check it out: http://sneakytofu.blogspot.com

  5. I know exactly where you’re coming from about peoples opinions and reactions about being a vegetarian. I have been a vegetarian since 2007. My co workers call me “one of those” when talking about food (I work in the food industry). I also get the “I could never not eat meat” “how do you do that” or ” WHY would you do that” talks a lot. I just tell them it’s not for everyone. I love being a vegetarian and even though my boyfriend and family don’t understand and/or think its funny to tease me while dangling bacon in front of me, I will never go back. I did eat a tiny bit of turnkey on thanksgiving and instantly regretted it. I felt like crap after, and it wasn’t very good. I am also in love with cheese which is one of the reasons I gained 40 pounds in a year when I moved to Wisconsin, the cheese and beer state.

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