Monday, June 27, 2011

Ruminations on Vegetarianism

I've been a vegetarian for nearly a year now. I find that the most exhausting thing about being a vegetarian is explaining it to people. Most of the time I try to avoid discussing it because it's rarely an issue. I would never request a veggie-only option at a dinner party and there's usually french fries on any menu that I can eat and eat happily. But inevitably the topic comes up and I have to explain my decision to people, either because they are curious or because they take offense. (Why people care what I eat is really beyond me, but seems like these days everything is offensive to at least one person.) My sister is an on-again-off-again vegetarian, so she asked me once with actual interest. After we discussed my reasons, she suggested I write it here. Since I get to decide the content of my blog, I thought it was a good idea!

Every vegetarian is probably different, but my philosophy boils down to three main points.

1) Eating meat is natural.
Humans have evolved in part because of our meat-eating -- we have those crazy, meat-tearing teeth!  We hunted wild animals and obtained the proteins we needed for our brains to evolve.  We domesticated animals and raised them to provide food for our families.  In short, eating only vegetables and grains is not the most natural diet for humans, at least historically speaking.  (I'm sure most vegetarians would disagree with me, but this is my philosophy!)

arctic weapons
ancient weapons (source)
2) Eating meat has BECOME completely unnatural.
Our meat consumption in this country is beyond ridiculous.  We eat entirely too much meat.  Part of the reason is because meat has become cheap and easy to come by.  Our domestication of animals for meat consumption has turned into big business.  We raise animals quickly and cheaply without any real regard for the health of the animal AND the health of the humans who eat that animal.  How many times have you read in the news about a meat recall due to e-coli or some other disease?  Too many times.  Instead of taking the time to raise healthy animals that would produce healthy meat, we've taken shortcut after shortcut and now the entire meat industry literally makes me sick.  It's unnatural.  What might be even more distressing than the meat industry is the willing ignorance of so many people.  The information and the knowledge is everywhere.  Books, movies, the news.  But people choose to ignore it because "If I really knew how it worked, I couldn't eat meat anymore."  Seriously?  That's just stupid.
3) If I could kill it, I can eat it.
But the trip from eating only farmer's market meats to full-on vegetarianism had to do with my work with an animal rescue.  It became really hard for me to reconcile my adoration for dogs and cats with my desire to eat cows and pigs (I stopped eating chicken years's gross).  I understand that culturally, they are different animals to us.  But for me, I could no longer separate animals into pet and food categories.  I simply do not feel comfortable with the thought of any animal being killed.  So it seemed odd that I would eat the fruits of a labor that quite literally makes me cry.  So my new rule became: once I can actually slaughter the animal myself, I can eat the animal.  But if I can't, well then I'll eat rice and beans.  So because right now I can't kill animals, that means I will not eat animals.
So there you go.  Those are my reasons for being a vegetarian.  Who knows...maybe at some point in my life I'll be comfortable eating meat again.  Maybe not.  But this explains why I'm so nostalgic for meat (except chicken...gross).  I don't have a problem with meat consumption on a general level, so long as the animals are treated ethically and the people have a sense of respect for the animal they are eating.  On a personal level though, I just cannot do it.  But don't be offended.  I'm not offended by you and your steak-eating habits and with the exception of this post, I rarely preach about vegetarianism.  So let me eat my vegetables!!

**There was a great article in Time recently about a meat-eater making efforts to be a little more ethical about his meat consumption.  Remember: you don't have to be a vegetarian to be an ethical eater!**


  1. I won't argue any of your philosophy (I don't know if there is spell check or if that is spelled correctly at all), but I will point out that in recent years, the largest recalls due to e.coli and such have been from plants (tomatoes, spinach, peanuts), not meat. Because there isn't a bacterial "kill step" (cooking) often when we eat plant-based foods, we are actually more susceptible (there is no spell check!). Just sayin...

  2. I completely agree Karen! Overall there are far too many recalls of food. And everyone should be more diligent about washing their produce (myself included).

    For me, I just feel really sad when meat is recalled due to disease because that means (and this is my animal lover coming out!) the animals were kept in those meat factories and then slaughtered for really no reason at all. It just seems like such a waste of life!!

  3. Very good post Christine! I am so thankful for all your work for pet project...I hear on a daily basis how poorly animals are treated in Minneapolis and I am so glad there are people like you out there doing all that they can! :) I consider myself a "beady eye" vegetarian eating fish and poultry....I am curious to about your feeling on chicken though!

    PS...I love the blog! I made your fried rice recipe tonight and it was delicious! :)

  4. Hey Jenn!! Thanks for the message :) I'm having tons of fun doing work for Pet Project Rescue ... let me know if you want to get involved! We're always looking for people to help at events!

    I went fish-only for a little bit but eventually gave it all up. I stopped eating chicken shortly after college - it just kind of grossed me out! I didn't like the taste or the texture. So now thinking about it makes me kind of want to gag!

    Glad you like the blog! Isn't that fried rice recipe so totally easy? We need to hang out soon! I feel like I haven't seen you in years - literally!