Think of someone you know who’s a vegetarian. Many of them do it for health reasons, including allergies or high cholesterol, some because they believe in animal rights or the environment. Some are criticized claiming to be a vegetarian for the wrong reasons such as moral superiority, or mixing nutrition with others such as religion, animal rights, environmental concern, etc. Some might resist being a vegetarian/vegan or admitting they are one because they get a lot of bad rep in popular culture, like for example in this hilarious how I met your mother video: “I wish I could tune out that moral voice inside me that says eating animals is murder but, I guess I’m just not as strong as you are” Ted: “That’s cause you need protein.”
I’d like to mention the differences between a vegetarian and a vegan. A vegan does not consume any animal products, this includes meat, egg, dairy and honey. A vegetarian, can be in a few categories, such as lacto vegetarians, who eat dairy; ovo-lacto vegetarians , who eat dairy and eggs, and similarly but not quite vegetarians, pescetarians, who eat fish. I myself am an ovo-lacto, because it’s easier to stop eating meat than to find contaminant-free meat or fish; however I do love cheese and chocolate milk, but am open to vegan brownies, cheese and have tried almost all the vegan milks commercially available. I’m one because it’s healthier, cheaper, I’m passionate about the environment and animal rights, and compassionate towards animals.
Many people aren’t very passionate about animal rights, or the environment or living longer, and live life on a more individual level; finding it worthwhile to eat food they love no matter where it came from. Louis CK takes this standpoint, I like him as a comedian, and he presents that he thinks it’s wrong but doesn’t care enough to change the habits.
I can’t exclude vegetarians/vegans from this concept , some don’t eat all organic which otherwise has harmful chemicals, some vegetarians love cheese and dairy products which come from the same animal industry, some have cravings for stuff which includes animal products such as bones in Jell-o, beef consommé in rice, or beetle-made red coloring in junk food and desserts. Believing that spending a few more times eating something delicious is worth the lessened life, because Carpe Diem, I think is something that we all can share.
PETA, the organization for animal rights, has a lot of information about all the gross compounds in animal products including feces, hormones, pus, antibiotics, and diseases such as salmonella which are present and allowed within FDA limits, or also not reviewed by the FDA at all. This is to get people informed and convince them to stop eating meat. There also present other reasons such as meat eating’s negative effects on health, the fact that it supports an industry that mistreats animals and workers, and the damage consuming meat does to the environment. This infographic offers a pretty good explanation and sources.
This article is interesting because it speaks about this woman’s transition from being a vegetarian for 15 years to eating meat again. It starts off with her eating bacon, then chicken broth, then an entire chicken portion in one sitting. The reasons she became a vegetarian though, she says, was to be unique in college, being either a vegetarian or a lesbian. She arguments that, looking back, she realized being a vegetarian was selfish and inconsiderate of the people around you, who had to accommodate to your meals; and it made visiting restaurants or other countries difficult: ” How about the time, in a small town in Italy, when the chef had presented me with a plate of very special local sausage, since I was the American guest — and I had refused it, to the mortification of my Italian friends?” I think it’s an interesting point, that choosing to be a vegetarian also affects the people around you. But then again, so does being a picky eater, or anyone who has a special diet because of a health condition such as diabetes or high cholesterol. Or maybe someone with an OCD habits of only eating with their personal cutlery. I wouldn’t go so far as to call any of them selfish and certainly an inhibitor not a to a good or new culinary experience. Hopefully we won’t end up like Elijah Wood in Everything is Illuminated; asking for something vegetarian, being called crazy and given a plain potato on a plate only to have it fall on the floor when we try to season it with salt. “Welcome to Ukraine” However, like in the video, you can laugh it off or alternatively, prepare in advance and bring something with you.
I also found this article interesting; which arguments in favor of consuming meat. So long as it’s grass fed. He proposes that , aside from vegetables and nutrients “a diet with reasonable amounts of grass fed meat, plenty of wild fish, whole eggs from free-range chickens, raw organic milk … is a hard diet to beat for overall vitality.” The argument is made that the studies made that presumably link veganism to better health are misinterpreted, like in the book “The China Study”. Also that studies linking meat consumption to bad health, fail to isolate other factors in the study like the low consumption of vegetables by meat eaters, stress levels, among others. He also mentions omega-3 and B-12 are vitamins that are mostly found in animal products and restricting them can lead to a deficiency of these. To someone living in a country with next to no availability of these products, being a vegetarian could be the best choice for their health compared to the negative effects of hormone-rich, contaminated meat.
According to this article, being a vegetarian can lead to sugar addiction due to not getting enough fat and nutrients in daily foods. I’m a bit reminded of this picture, which is why it’s imperative to have variety in your diet, as well as consult a doctor and have blood work done normally. Although claims are made linking vegetarianism to nutrient deficiency, there are in fact millions of healthy vegetarians, including, vegetarian body builders and the list of benefits from being a vegetarian, including a healthier profile, lower weight, low cost diets go on and on.
All in all, the argument involving vegetarianism, involves many things from personal choices, to worldviews, personal priorities, food availability, knowledge level and health profile. Being a vegetarian can be influenced by many things including your culture. If meat eating is part of your national identity you will feel less likely to give it up. Some people go for things like meatless Monday, or eating only poultry and turkey instead of leaving meat completely as an attempt to stand up for something they believe. I invite you all to share resources and contribute to the discussion, and to stay posted about my next vegetarian/meat-eater posts.
Till next time,