Why did I become a vegetarian? Because I hated the taste of meat and the thought of eating animals grossed me out. I read a book on yoga when I was 15, and I learned you don't have to eat meat to survive. It took me another year to get completely away from eating meat, but I did it finally the summer I was 16.
Many years later, I am still consuming milk products. Darn it, why does yogurt have to taste so good? That's about the last dairy product in my diet.
I thought it would be interesting to resurrect this thread. People discuss their rationale for becoming vegetarian.
I've been vegetarian for about 30 years. The reasons why I became one, and the reasons that I remain one, are not all the same.
-Knew animals up close and personal. Couldn't eat my 'friends'. Could not know one and then kill it and then eat it.
-The more that I learned about toxic chemicals that are intentionally fed to animals, and bioaccumulation of toxins that are fed to animals, the more unhealthy that animal products seemed.
-Animal fats are less healthy than plant oils. There was also evidence at the time, that some methods of preparation made animal proteins carcinogenic.
-The environmental costs of animal agriculture make it unethical to continue in an overcrowded and overexploited world.
-Animal agriculture is cruel.
-It's habit. I just can't imagine eating meat. I've forgotten how to prepare meat.
-Meat carries more infections. Even the plant products that lead to Salmonella, and other infections, do so due to contamination from animal agriculture.
-Starting from the raw materials, vegetarianism is usually cheaper. You can make it as expensive as you like, however.
-Vegetarianism always makes me think about my food. I never take it for granted. That's because it is still not mainstream, so takes more effort.
-I think that the palate becomes less responsive to tastes, when large amounts of meat are eaten for a long time. I think that I enjoy tastes more because of not having my palate dulled. This might just be me fooling myself, however.
-Honestly, meat just grosses me out, and has for a long time. When people tell me that I can just remove the meat from my plate or out of the soup, I ask if they would do the same thing with an animal turd. It's just as much revulsion to me.
So them's my reasons, for the moment. With many more members to the discusson group, maybe this is worth discussing some more.
Daniel. I sometimes find it hard to get enough non-fatty proteins into my diet since I have become a veggie and healthy eating is very important to me because I have a chronic bacterial soft tissue infection called Erysipelas that hospitalizes me when I'm run down, and because I respect my body. Could you please advise me of any websites where I will find really healthy vegetarian recipes? I'm getting really bored of tuna pasta and houmous and salad wraps. lol
I'll have to look around. When I first became vegetarian there were cookbooks that I used but they've probably been out of print for a long time. Sydni in this discussion group posts a lot of great sounding recipes, too. Here is a low-fat vegetarian recipe archive. Maybe it will help.
I guess because I genuinely view animals as equal to humans. Perhaps because as an atheist I don't swallow the same anthropomorphism that many theists do because I don't follow the doctrine of Human Stewardship (which I think has been detrimental to the way in which humans view nature and animals) nor do I believe that humans have been made in the image of a non-existent God (but rather we have constructed 'God' in our image).
Thus for me human beings are just another living creature, another Darwinian animal, and we have no special place in the cosmos. Therefore if I wouldn't eat a human being then I couldn't possibly justify eating animals (especially because it is no longer necessary for our survival). Why wouldn't I eat a human being? For various reasons; because I wouldn't want to be eaten myself, I value the sanctity of life (for non-theistic reasons), my biology seems to reject the act of cannibalism unless it's a matter of life and death, and probably because I'm too misanthropic to want human flesh in my mouth. lol
Therefore philosophically speaking I can not possibly justify eating meat, and emotionally speaking I do not want to devour another living creature. For me being an omnivore is no longer necessary to our survival so we should evolve beyond it, the same way in which we have evolved beyond other barbaric practices (well some of us have). Besides as an animal rights activist I would feel like a complete hypocrite eating meat. That's not to mention the fact that I generally prefer animals to people. ;)
I stopped eating animals in my mid 30's after a childhood and young adulthood of being a 'meat and potatoes' eater. This was due to education over time, and just a general tendency to question the status quo (on some things anyways).
I did have a defining moment in my quest towards vegetarianism, and currently heading very near veganism. I wrote a book several years ago, and I presented a fictional (but quite 'factual' to me) account of this defining moment. **It is long, so I don't blame you if you don't want to read it :) - but I did try to edit (shorten) it!!
"Jimmy hadn't had any meat for almost seven years [over 13 years for me now], since the time when he was driving out west to Arizona to visit his parents. He was driving solo, and he had taken four days to get across the Midwest from Michigan...It was a pretty ride, but very long when traveling alone.
On the early afternoon of the third day of driving, he was hit by a major storm in the flatlands of the Texas panhandle. He was amazed at how dark it got; the entire western sky was filled with clouds so low and purplish that it was like driving at midnight. The rains came with a vengeance, and after awhile he was forced to pull over to the side of 1-40 since he literally couldn't see out of his front window, even with his wipers on high. He sat there in his car, rain pounding on his roof so hard it was like being inside a drum. It was dark as night even though the luminous dial of his watch said 1:22pm, and he could feel the awe of nature in all of its raw power. After nearly 15 minutes like this, the rain slackened perceptibly, and the clouds shifted enough to let some light creep back into the day. He started his car and got back on the road, thinking how a primitive human faced with this type of natural power could easily invent the idea of a god. He drove for a few minutes in silence, letting the rain and wind be his music, and almost falling into a driving trance. Gradually he noticed an odor in the car increasing in intensity, and he felt his stomach churn.
"What the ****? That's disgusting," he said as he covered his nose with his hand. He had opened his side vents when the rain started, and he now closed them when he couldn't take the smell anymore. It didn't help. He looked around for the source of that hideous smell, but he couldn't locate it for several minutes. In the distance, he could see a sprawling farm just off of the highway coming up on his left hand side. At almost 80 miles an hour, it didn't take long to reach it. He cruised upon it, and suddenly realized he was looking at a slaughterhouse as far as the eye could see.
"I smelled that from way back there," he said with a touch of wonder, keeping his hand over his nose. The air tasted coppery, and he knew it was the taste and smell of animal blood. His stomach clenched again, but he it willed it to subside. He looked over at the slaughterhouse, seeing thousands of cows hurdled together so closely in little corrals that he couldn't see past the ones packed up to the fence nearest the highway. It was still raining quite steadily, and as he looked at the undulating mass of cow, he realized they were all standing in the rain, covered in cows***, urine and mud, and would be this way for who knows how long...
He was mesmerized by this atrocity, watching in silence as the miles clipped by and the sight remained. The smell and taste was subsiding, but Jimmy knew they were still there, he was just getting used to them. This helped to tweak his stomach again, and he took short breaths to try and stabilize himself. The miles continued zipping by, and he tried to wrap his mind around the sheer size of this slaughterhouse, and the amount of animals that must be there waiting in those inhumane conditions for their turn to be, well...slaughtered. He suddenly understood that these very animals he had been watching for miles had been standing out in that massive storm he had just been in. He felt disgusted and angered by this discovery - that pretty package of meat at the grocery store would never be the same to him.
He finally passed the slaughterhouse, looking at his watch in the increasing light. He estimated that he had been driving close to 80 miles an hour, and it had taken about 10 minutes to pass that slaughterhouse. "That f***er is about 12 or 13 miles long. Who know how f***ing deep it goes." He had made a point of looking at the end of the fence that had run the entire length of all the little corrals, and it looked just as long going back away from the highway.
His stomach flipped again. "If I never see a burger..." he said, shocked by the barbarity and inhumanity of what he had just witnessed, albeit from the outside. His imagination was able to fill in the blanks as to what was going on inside the slaughterhouse. Less than an hour later, the sky was blue and vast, and he could see the Rocky Mountains far away on the horizon. He kept his windows open, even though the wind was howling through his car. He just wanted to rid his car of that hideous smell.
The rest of his vacation was interesting, and he was glad to see his mom and dad having fun in their retirement years, but that moment never left Jimmy. He still ate meat for several months after that day, but the cognitive dissonance of the slaughterhouse and what he was putting in his mouth was enough to make him quietly become a vegetarian."
Because as long as b-12 supplements are around, I don't need to eat animals or animal products to get any type of nutrient. Given that I don't need to eat animal products for my own health or survival, it seemed to me that my best choice would be to choose to eat only plant foods. This way I don't support industrial animal agriculture, which is horrible for humans, ecosystems, and of course the animals born, confined, and killed for human food.
I have, since infancy (or so I am told) disliked meat. It was a HUGE struggle every night at dinner, as my mother tried to coerce, persuade or force me to eat meat, and I sulked, cried, refused, and sat at the table until bedtime.
At 14, she finally gave in. Family legend has it that I am the only person who ever out-stubborned my mother! ( of course, it took me well over a decade...;o)
I don't eat meat, because I have never liked the way I feel when I eat it...heavy, bloated and drained of energy for days. Of course, as I got older, the ethical reasons rang true for me as well, as do the environmental/financial reasons. Still...my main reason is it makes me feel yucky.