You may or may not know that in February I decided to try my own vegetarian challenge. At one (or several) times I mentioned it on Facebook. Most people were just surprised that I would give up something as delicious as meat, but a few seemed to be upset about my decision just to fast meat, not even give it up full time. Then there where a couple that were really encouraging and helpful (thanks, guys!). Anyway, based on people's reactions, and because this has been a learning experience for me, I thought I'd talk about it here.
Why I decided to fast meat for one month:
- Health reasons. I had been reading the book Eating Animals and the author started talking about factory farms and different things that make them unhealthy. I know a lot of people don't want to hear anything gross, so I'll refrain, but one thing Foer mentioned was how many antibiotics get pumped into the meat we eat. The germs get used to the antibiotics and become stronger, making us more susceptible to them.
- Curiosity. I've always been interested in trying a vegetarian diet - to see if I liked it, to see if I had the self control, to see if I felt any different. After reading some of the health things in Eating Animals, I figured it would be a good time to try.
- Animal rights. Let me make two things clear: 1) I am a-okay with the idea of animals being killed for us to eat. As one person in the book stated, the animals would be eaten in nature anyway, whether alive or after they died, so why shouldn't we eat them? 2) While I am a fan of sarcasm and mocking people, I do not like cruelty or meanness. I try very hard to avoid being mean to anyone or anything - any mean comments I make are never meant that way. So, while I'm okay with animals being eaten, most factory farms are very cruel to their animals, and I don't want to support that, even though I do love the taste of meat.
How it went:
For the most part, it wasn't that bad. I've heard that some people feel bad at first, because their bodies miss the protein, but I never felt any different, except for the first week when I felt like all I was eating was mush (which was weird, because it was nowhere near true). Once I started figuring out new recipes to try, I got really excited about it. The hardest part was the first night when my family ate chicken wings - a favorite of mine. My mom forgot I wasn't eating meat, so she opened the oven when I walked past and told me to eat my share (I was late to dinner). It definitely felt like she was holding them right in front of my face - it was hard to say no. Once I started getting the hang of finding my own meals for dinner, though, it wasn't bad at all.
Why I am considering sticking with it:
- Animal rights. I love the taste of meat, but if I think the way factory farms treat animals is wrong, then I don't want to cave in on my standards for a meal that will last twenty minutes. If I'm going to eat meat, I'd prefer to get it from a local farm where I know the animals aren't being mistreated. Someone in the book said that if we are going to raise animals to die as our food, the least we can do is give them a good life. I agree. They are living beings and we should not treat them as a commodity.
- It's not hard to believe. It requires no stretch of the imagination to believe that terrible things happen in factory farms, and I don't mean just the death of animals. I think this says a lot.
- It's Biblical - at least in a sense. After the fall of mankind, God told Adam and Eve to eat meat, so I don't think it's a sin to eat meat or anything. However, I do think that, as stewards of the earth (Gen. 1:26-28) it is our job to make sure animals aren't mistreated (and humans even moreso), and supporting factory farms encourages their mistreatment.
Will I stick with it? Maybe. Like I said, I do like to eat meat, so if I can get it at a farm I trust, I will eat it. Otherwise, I'm going to try to avoid it (although, there's a rumor going around that we're going to have filet mingon for my dad's birthday dinner...I'm not sure I'll make it through that night).
Will I go vegan? I doubt it. I like dairy substitutes fine, but I really love my dairy. I'm going to try to get eggs at a local farm, but for now I'm not going to bother replacing my milk, ice cream, butter, and cheese.
I am not trying to start a fight with this post - if you disagree with me, that's fine. I'm not trying to persuade anyone to be vegetarian, I just think that I should stand behind my convictions and be open about them.
1. I do not think I'm perfect. I can definitely be mean, but I try to refrain from saying or doing anything mean because I know I'll regret it as soon as it's done. I fail frequently, but I try my best to be kind.
2. Please don't think I'm a tree hugger animal activist type that does not care about people. I care a lot about people. I try to make a positive impact on everyone I come in contact with. I don't support abortion. I am against human trafficking.
3. One of the things I really loved about the book was that Foer talked about story - how what we eat means a lot - like the turkey at Thanksgiving, or the meals that are family recipes. I really appreciated that perspective. He also had really great, easily grasped examples of things, which was helpful.