About Vegetarianism

Photo courtesy of Alexander Steinhof. See the original photo

**Note: this page will likely be a work in progress for a while. Here are some basic explanations for why I believe vegetarianism is a great lifestyle choice (for me!), and I will likely continuously add more details. First, I will also point out that I don’t think it’s necessarily the only right way to eat, for everyone, or even the only optimally healthy diet. It is simply my own response to the issues described below.

“Why are you vegetarian?” is a question I encounter frequently, and one I love answering. I probably could fill a book about all my reasons and their implications, but don’t worry, here is a readable summary.

First, I don’t believe the meat industry in the US currently is ethical. I don’t believe it’s morally wrong to eat animals, but what’s being done is pretty atrocious and unnecessarily cruel, and, of course, profit driven. Factory farms are where we see the worst practices, and unfortunately, the vast majority of meat we buy in supermarkets come from these factories, rather than the bucolic countryside farm images we like to imagine. Life must be treated with respect, whether human or not, and I refuse to support such practices.

Second, meat is a very costly commodity, resource-wise. One of the (many and complex) causes of the global food crisis is the increased consumption of meat in developed countries, and the US consumes more meat per capita than anywhere. It takes 10 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of steak, so logically we could feed more people with those grains than with the steak. (Also, if those grains were soy crops, the people fed would have more protein too). I’ve heard that experts think we could feed the world if everyone cut their meat intake by 10%. Working with the poor in the developing world and global health issues have been a concern and passion of mine for a long time, and eating vegetarian is something simple I can do to make a (small) difference in global hunger.

Related to the inefficiency of the meat industry, a huge way to reduce your carbon footprint is to eat less meat. I’ve heard environmental researchers suggest that the best way to retard global warming and reduce environmental destruction is….for every American to go without meat once a week. And I’m a tree hugger at heart, so the environmental conservation aspect of eating vegetarian is also important to me.

Photo courtesy of Royce Bair. See the original photo.

Fourthly, I eat a plant-based diet for health reasons. The way factory farm animals are kept predisposes them to infection, and therefore causes you, who eat them, to be vulnerable to exposure to all sorts of food poisoning microbes. E. coli, for an example, is being spread in acid resistant form due to feeding beef cattle corn instead of grass, and Salmonella typhii is spreading due to the filthy inhumane living quarters. The antibiotics used to treat factory farm animals are contributing to the evolution of resistant bacteria. From a public health standpoint, I prefer to stay away.

Lastly, and perhaps least importantly, I love eating fresh foods so much, that it just grosses me out to think about eating something’s dead muscle! I completed my bachelor’s degree in human physiology, and spent a lot of time in laboratory experimenting with muscles, from cadavers and/or animals….which is all I can think about when I see meat being served!

For more information, I recommend:

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Weaver. See the original photo.

 

15 responses

  1. Hi Becca! I just stumbled on your blog and I just want to say that I really like how you put out your reasons for being vegetarian. The same goes for me when people ask me that question πŸ™‚

    • Thanks for stopping by! So good to have you. And thanks for reading — I can be a little long-winded, haha, but I love talking about it. It seems to me too that every vegetarian has different reasons for it! So fun. πŸ™‚

  2. I loved ‘Eating Animals’ (the book, not the practice!). I went to a talk by Jonathan Safran Foer when the book was released and he was brilliant. Just so likeable and not at all preachy.

    Love your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine!

    • I love that book! He’s a great writer. I’m so jealous you got to hear him speak! Did you know they made movie about his life (not vegetarianism)? It’s called ‘Everything is Illuminated.” it’s a sad but good movie. Thanks for stopping by my site, and I’m happy to have found yours! The blogosphere is great for finding like-minded people. πŸ™‚

      • Yeah, he was lovely. I have read the book that the movie was based on. The book is actually fiction but based on an experience he had in real life. (Hope I didn’t just ruin it for you!) But I do want to see it as it was such an odd book I’m curious as to how they translated it into a film. And Elijah Wood is in it… Sold!

    • Thanks! Glad you stopped by. And thanks for bearing with my long winded thoughts. I think what you’re doing is totally great — eating styles don’t have to be this all-or-nothing final proposition. πŸ™‚

  3. I’m no longer a vegetarian (was one for 11 years), but I still love eating a lot of fruits and vegetables. Now, I help coordinate a meat CSA here in NYC. I did it because if I was going to eat meat, I wanted to make sure that my money was going to support a good, small farm that treated the animals well, used organic farming practices, and had respect and care for what those animals give to us.

    In doing so, I have learned a lot about local agriculture and how difficult lobbies for huge corporations have made it for small farmers and businesses. The way most animals are farmed is appalling. And if I didn’t get my meat from a farmer I know, trust, and who is also my friend, I’m not sure what I would do. Eat less of it, obviously.

    I hope that you don’t mind a carnivore commenting! I have a great deal of respect for people who make conscious food choices, even if they are not my own. And I think your blog is beautiful!

    • Aw, thanks for all your kind words! Haha, of course I love your comments! I think that’s so so great what you’re doing, and couldn’t agree more. I tried to express this here – I really don’t think everybody should be vegetarian, but I DO wish more people made conscious choices about their food – which is exactly what you do. The smaller, humane-minded farmers NEED support, and unfortunately, with all the food monopolies and government subsidies and competing with ridiculously low meat prices, it’s so hard for the ‘good guys’ to thrive. So bravo! My husband eats that way too, and I’m all for it. πŸ™‚ I wish there were more meat CSA’s to go around. I’m so glad you have you here! Thanks for stopping by, and I look forward to more of your thoughts!

      • It’s good to know that it’s a big tent, so to speak!

        I agree completely: it is all about being a better informed consumer. I was got into a heated argument with a vegetarian friend of mine who berated me for eating meat (did he not remember the decade of non-meat eating?!), while he was holding a genetically-modified eggplant from Chile.

        Talk about carbon footprint! I will take my farmer’s steak that comes from upstate over that toxic eggplant shipped for weeks in a noxious gas-filled shipping container any day!

        I look forward to following your blog! You seem to have a love for colorful food β€” which I think is terrific since I believe that they more colorful your food, the better it is for you.

        • Ooh, sorry to hear that. No beration here, ever! I think some people make food choices into an absolute morality, but it’s not. Its just food. Food’s important, but no reason to judge someone else. And like I said before, I think your approach to eating is great — after all, our bodies are clearly designed to eat meat. Vegetarianism is my own choice…doesn’t have to be everybody’s. So glad to have you around! I do like colorful food, and totally agree with you about color=health! πŸ™‚

  4. Hello Becca! First I want to say thanks for stopping by and showing (theraysofsunshine.wordpress.com) some love. Second I want to thank you for the lovely post on ABOUT VEGETARIANISM. My husband and I are what you call “Pollo – Pescatarians” but we love fresh fruits and veggies by the boat loads. Which pretty much consumes the vast majority of our diet. I am always looking for new recipes to add to my collection, so I will diffinately be back.

    • That’s so awesome! I am so glad to have you. I’m looking forward to your great posts as well! I think your kind of diet is so healthy…that’s how my husband eats and I think it’s just great. Going completely veg is just my own choice based on the reasons above, but of course one can eat consciously and healthily on any diet. Thanks so much for stopping by my little corner of the web. πŸ™‚

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