I’ve called myself a vegetarian for over 30 years–and yes, I’m still alive and well. If I look back over the years, there were times that I folded to family pressures and had meat. More recently, I decided to eat fish occasionally, because I feel I need some of the oils and protein fish has to offer–but I’m beginning to question this.
At this point I would say that not eating meat is as embedded into my habits as eating meat is for many other people. Before I answer the question: “Why are you a vegetarian?” or “Why don’t you eat meat?”, I would like to mention a pet peeve. It annoys me that at social events, I often can’t peacefully eat without being asked to justify why I don’t eat meat.
There is nothing sacred about eating meat—in fact, there are many cultures that are vegetarian. My decision to “convert” was not out of lofty morals or a detailed reasoned philosophy. I decided to eat vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, seeds and dairy products because I liked how I felt after a meal. Instead of feeling weighed down, I felt energized. The vegetarian food I encountered was delicious and on top of that, I was turned off by the process of preparing meat for cooking. Aware that some people choose not to eat the flesh of animals I decided to choose that path myself.
Since my original decision many years ago, I have learned about and adopted other reasons to reduce or eliminate meat:
- A vegetarian or almost vegetarian diet is healthier;
- Animals are raised for slaughter in cramped, cruel conditions;
- Disease and drugs are found in meat due to mass production methods;
- Raising animals depletes more natural resources than crops;
- Some fish species and marine animals are in danger of extinction due to overfishing; and
- Some fish and seafood are contaminated by toxins.
So there it is, this is why I continue to be a vegetarian (who occasionally eats fish). I plan to continue exploring the environmental impact of meat and fish consumption and researching nutritional questions.