Choosing to become a Vegetarian
Throughout my eight years as a vegetarian, I am frequently asked why I chose this lifestyle.
I’m often hesitant to share my feelings on this topic for fear that I might come off as though I am preaching or judging others for their own decisions. Believe me when I say that I would never want to push my lifestyle choices on anyone else and that my only goal with this post is to allow my readers to get to know me a little better.
Even though being a vegetarian has not always been easy, the transition was actually very natural for me. I never liked preparing meat and handling it raw has always grossed me out. When Brandon and I first started living together, I requested that he prepare all of the meat because I refused to touch it.
Eventually we started getting magazines from a few animal rights activists in the mail. We both took the time to read some of the stories regarding “factory farms” and how animals are treated at those facilities. Being such huge animal lovers, this information hit home pretty hard.
I know animals that are typically bred for our consumption aren’t considered intelligent but I can’t help feeling something when I look into their eyes. As human beings, we are able to communicate so much better than they are and I felt it was my duty to treat them with kindness.
In addition to disliking the inhumane treatment of animals, I also read of the diseases that are spread amongst them as a result of their close living quarters. Consequently the animals are given antibiotics to prevent illness and hormones to ensure they grow fast enough to keep up with production. Once they are slaughtered, some of the meat is also treated with preservatives to keep it from spoiling before it is consumed. In my opinion, that whole process doesn’t sound very healthy.
Honestly, I have occasionally thought about eating meat again because sometimes, I just want a freaking turkey sandwich. But I’ve gone this long without it so I feel that there’s no point in turning back now.
Being a vegetarian, I still eat dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt. There is plenty of research out there that claims dairy is both good and bad for you and I’m not really sure which is actually true but I do know that dairy contains many essential vitamins and nutrients such as protein, vitamin D and calcium. In addition, there have been a ton of recent studies, such as this one and this one, advocating how healthy eggs are for us.
My personal practice is to eat dairy in moderation and to stick to pasture-raised and organic options whenever I can. I generally stay away from butter and cream and am a huge fan of Earth Balance as a substitution for butter.
When it comes to purchasing dairy products, one regulation I specifically look for is the Certified Humane label.
Finding cheese that is Certified Humane has proven to be a little more challenging. At best, I am able to find organic options at Whole Foods that are listed as vegetarian.
One night while I was shopping in the dairy section I heard a man say to his wife, “Vegetarian cheese? What the heck does that mean?” I thought that was pretty funny because I didn’t always know what it meant either and it does sounds a little silly.
Vegetarian cheese is usually produced without animal enzymes, such as rennet, which is obtained from the stomach lining of baby cows or other young animals in order to help coagulate the milk. These enzymes can also be obtained from plants which is what is often used in vegetarian cheeses.
I’m not a strict vegetarian so if I am out to eat, I probably end up ordering things with cheese that contains rennet. But I try to do my best to support organic, local and vegetarian practices whenever I’m given the opportunity.
In general, my diet mainly consists of beans, grains, nuts, some dairy, fruits and vegetables. We eat salads with our dinner 3 to 4 days a week and use olive oil in our dressing to get plenty of healthy fats.
I also have a slight addiction to avocados and eat a few of those a week too.
And I eat an apple every day with my fancy apple slicer that I bring to work with me.
While I believe in eating a wide variety of clean food that comes straight from the earth and isn’t processed or full of chemicals, you might see me stray sometimes.
(The main ingredient in these is mycoprotein which is some kind of synthetic fungus…I think. We eat these quite a bit in place of chicken so I am hoping it turns out to truly be as healthy and harmless as they claim it is)
As far as seafood goes, Brandon is pretty strict about not eating it so I don’t usually prepare any at home. I personally enjoy eating fish on occasion but I am also very skeptical about the ways they are sourced so I find myself opting-out most of the time when we are out to eat.
I feel that my health is an investment so I am willing the spend the extra money and take the extra time to try to be what I define as healthy. That being said, there are many different definitions of what is healthy so eating all organic and vegetarian food may not be what is truly healthy to someone else.
I appreciate you taking the time to listen and I hope you will share your philosophies so that I can learn about you all as well!
What are your philosophies on food?
*Everything written in the post is based on my own personal opinion. I was not endorsed by any brand or company for writing this, nor am I a Registered Dietician who can recommend a diet for you to follow.
I’ve always hated when someone asks me why I’m a vegetarian. It’s such a personal question with personal reasons, and some people just get so offended for a decision that doesn’t impact them at all!
I will add that we would not run out of resources if everyone ate vegetarian or vegan. I don’t know the exact numbers off hand, but it takes something along the lines of 10x the resources to produce meat than animal products. One of the big reasons I continue to choose not to eat meat is the impact on the environment. If everyone in the world ate organic, however, we definitely could not support our population!
That’s a very good point, Kelly. Eating meat does have a huge impact on the environment. Thanks for sharing!
Nope, not preachy – you’re just sharing how you feel, and there are so many reasons to go vegetarian. I don’t eat meat because I love animals, think meat production causes way too many environmental problems, and there are so many great foods that there’s no need to eat meat. (We eat lots of beans, eggs, nuts & seeds, and yogurt at our place, with some cheese and other dairy products in there too.)
Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Lisa!
It’s basically like you wrote this from inside my brain. I actually loved meat before I gave it up (and still love the smell of bacon, or the look of a juicy steak). But I sort of transitioned slowly…eating less and less meat…and every time I ate it, I started to become uncomfortably aware that I was chewing on the muscles of another animal. I’m not at all judgmental of others’ choices (my fiancé eats loads of meat and I still eat fish), but it’s something that has literally become difficult for me to stomach.
I also don’t eat dairy, but that’s because I KNOW I have a bad reaction to it. But I do love my eggs!