My vegetarianism is something that I question a lot, especially concerning nutrition needs. However, I cannot imagine that eating something that has been tortured, fed poorly and prepared in filthy conditions can be healthy. My belief in not inflicting harm on any living being (unless provoked to protect myself), I feel, should also include animals.
Here’s my story: When I first converted, it took me two years to start a pledge made with my friend Elise. Eventually, I decided that I’d try it out, she had been successful, and I had to catch up. The first two weeks were ridiculous — I went through a horrible withdrawal, I was weak, moody, and I was head first into meat substitutes — but this would happen with anything that you had been ingesting for 20 years and then stopped entirely. I stuck with it, and eventually the “pain” was over and I felt rejuvenated and almost freed from some kind of bondage. I continually make healthier decisions when eating out, although some vegetarians eat only french fries and potato chips, and I usually get a dish with tons of vegetables to what would have been a large piece of hormone-filled steak or chicken.
With modern technologies and studies, there must be ways to get vitamins that are found in meats, so I never found that to be an issue. Taking B12 vitamin, for instance, is something that I do as a vegetarian. And the argument about protein — I think that one is obvious. Considering I am very active, I do get “cravings” for protein, but not meat, so I’ll eat beans, nuts, energy bars, etc.
An argument that I often get is about eating grass fed or free range meats instead of being vegetarian. Sure, I could do that, but it still conflicts with the harm principle. Also, with my kind of lifestyle and being a poor student, I can’t take the time or afford to buy these expensive meats and prepare them myself. It is simply much more easier to abstain from meat and the only places that I can see a problem with this is a steakhouse (although I have been to Brazilian rodizio and I had a great time with the incredible salad bar they offer).
A lot of my friends are trying the “paleo” diet and argue for it being the absolute best methodology of nutrition possible. However, I don’t think that eating a diet of 50%-75% meat, in some cases, could possibly be healthy, especially if your meat comes from factory farming. The fats and cholesterol in that kind of diet can’t be good for you either, even if you think you’re buying a “lean meat,” as recommended. Also, if you live a sedentary lifestyle, you just don’t need that much meat or protein and your portion sizes are far too large. You want to live like a caveman while you’re sitting in classes or in a 9-5 office job? Sorry, not going to happen, your metabolism is way slower and you will not digest in the same way.
I don’t want to be a “vegetarian snob” and promote that it is the best diet possible, but it has certainly worked for me. I am far more healthy than I was in the past, and it has made me think on an enlightened and higher level about what exactly I put into my body. I have woken up to the horrors of not only factory farming, but factory food in general and the importance of eating more natural products. Sure, we all aren’t perfect, and I do indulge in “garbage” every so often, but it is a work in progress. I hope you read this post and take into account the many options out there in nutrition and even if you don’t take up vegetarianism, give it a thought and perhaps lower your meat intake or include only torture free meat options as much as possible.
And thanks to Tom Palmer for posting this on Facebook today. You may think that Peta is full of fanatics and lunatics, but video footage is fact: