I’m a week into Veggie Month and it’s been pretty successful so far. I’ve not had any meat at all and barely even thought about it. It’s difficult to be certain but I think not eating meat has been beneficial health-wise because it’s meant I’ve not had any greasy or fatty meals. I’ve been pretty energetic and upbeat this week and I can’t help but wonder if this new diet is making that change. Anyway, today’s post consists of lots of vegetarians talking about why they are a vegetarian and I’m sure it will bring up some interesting points!
I’ve been hounding various blogging forums asking about being vegetarian and here’s what’s come out of it. I’ve had to edit them down for length but I’ve tried to keep as much of them as I can!
Original Title: I've been a vegetarian since college. Originally, I was spurred to stop eating meat due to an extremely graphic video in a philosophy class. It showed images from the meat industry, regardless of whether the video was biased or even representative of the whole industry didn't matter, just watching any animal be killed in such inhumane ways made it difficult for me to eat meat for weeks. I became a vegan for a couple of weeks after that, but it was tough without a kitchen to cook in at college, so I reverted to vegetarianism. Over time, I did lose weight, feel better and my skin even looked better. I had less stomach aches and I ate a lot healthier. I still eat dairy products and occasionally eat fish if I'm in an awkward situation and don't feel comfortable with the group I'm in to say I'm a vegetarian. I should probably be more strict about it and "true" strict vegetarians and vegans probably wouldn't appreciate my half-effort, but I do feel like I'm trying!
It’s a pretty horrible thought some of the things I’ve eaten have suffered horribly. Although a fair portion of the industry is now pretty good at looking after it’s animals there are still millions across the world who live horrible, short lives and this shouldn’t happen. It was also interesting that Original says they are some times pressurised into eating fish. I don’t really get why being a vegetarian is such a bad thing to meat eaters.
Daniela Yvonne: I've more or less been vegetarian since I was about 12 or 13. I'm 26 now and haven't eaten beef or pork since then (except for one drunken dare in college where I ate a meatball and had the worst stomach ache of my life afterwards).
I wish I could say I'm vegetarian because of a good reason (like being healthy), but I started out because I wanted to annoy my family with a form of rebellion that didn't require drugs or alcohol. Coming from a Mexican family in the restaurant industry (where almost everything we sell has meat in it), going vegetarian seemed like a good option. But what started out as a slightly misguided attempt to rebel became a fairly permanent way of life for me.
I'm by no means strict; I eat sushi occasionally (don't care for fish in any other form) and have eaten turkey at Thanksgiving to be polite (my boyfriend's family, who are also Mexican, are very sweet and accommodating, but at large family gatherings like Thanksgiving, I don't mind taking a small piece because it's not a big deal to me). I love dairy products too much to ever be vegan. I just don't ever eat red meat because I've gone so long without it that the one time I even tried it resulted in me getting sick.
That’s a reason for being a vegetarian I haven’t heard before! I suppose it’s rebelling but in a way which is safe and won’t really get you in trouble. And someone else who sometimes has to eat meat because of their companions, I wonder if this will be something of a pattern?
Jessica: Changing my eating habits was a process that happened over a long time. You can read some of my posts here and here that I wrote after reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I started by getting humanely raised, hormone-free meat through a CSA subscription, and I stopped eating meat at restaurants. Then I stopped eating meat anywhere except the CSA meat at home. When we moved, we moved to a very vegetarian- and vegan-friendly area, so it's been easy for me to be meat-free here. One surprising outcome was that I eat a ton more vegetables because most vegetarian alternatives use extra vegetables to make up for the lack of meat (think veggie sub, veggie lover's pizza). I do still eat seafood, so I'm technically a pescatarian, and even then I will eat meat that is humanely raised and hormone- and antibiotic-free. I think people get too hung up on labels for people -- it still makes a difference to reduce your meat consumption somewhat even if you don't want to be a full-fledged vegetarian. Better to make small changes that are sustainable over the long term than try to fit some standard of "healthy" or "humane" eating that you can't sustain.
Jessica makes a great point that you reducing your meat consumption is still good even if you decide you don’t want to be a vegetarian. This is something I might consider doing once my challenge ends.
Lisa Ballantyne: I've been a vegan for almost a year and a vegetarian for a few years. I grew up with my dad and three brothers who are obviously all meat-eaters. I just never really enjoyed eating it and when I was around 13 or 14 years old I found out what PETA was and watched some pretty scary videos about the meat and dairy industries. I decided then that I would stop eating meat.
It's hard for me to come up with a single reason why I'm vegan. I read so many books and watched so many documentaries on the food industry. I will say that I do feel healthier overall.Right now my diet consists of no meat, dairy, or animal by-products. I eat lots of vegetables, quinoa, beans, tofu, and sea vegetables. And for everyone that could never give up cheese, Daiya Cheese is the best I've found. Seriously, it made my girlfriend a convert :)
I find it difficult to understand being a vegan. In my view I think that it’s fine to keep animals that produce food, as long as they are treated well and looked after. Because most dairy products don’t travel very far it’s easier to know whether the conditions are good. I always look out for the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods label but all the main supermarkets in the UK are pretty good at vetting their sources.
Catherine: I have been a vegetarian since I was six years old. I did a project on animals at school and decided that I didn't want to eat them any more. My family went along with this as they thought it would last a week or two, but I'm still a vegetarian now! It has been such a long time, I don't think I could eat meat again. I don't eat any meat or fish, but I do still eat dairy products, so I am a vegetarian, not a vegan.
I find it interesting that most of these people originally became a vegetarian because of something they saw. If more people saw these things would there be more vegetarians?
Yweas World: I am a vegetarian, not a vegan. I never liked the idea of eating animals and therefore I have always been sick of eating meat. One day I realized that I had stopped eating meat altogether and began to call myself a vegetarian. I will probably never eat meat again. Just remember to replace the meat in your diet with something. It is important to get enough protein. Eat lots of beans, lentils and nuts.
I don’t like beans, lentils and nuts. This is probably the biggest problem for me in being a vegetarian. I am so fussy and taking things with meat out of the equation leaves me with very few options. I’ve mostly been living off microwavable rice pots and jacket potatoes!
Well I think that raised some interesting points. Most people are vegetarian because they are thinking of the animals and they’ve seen some kind of campaign which shows animals suffering. I think I will do some more research in this area and try to have a better idea of what the meat industry is really like. The other thing of interest was the pressure put on vegetarians by non-vegetarians. You’re not allowed to insult someone of a different religion yet someone with a different diet is a perfectly adequate target.
I shall end with this sketch which makes me laugh and is kind of relevant: