I am a vegetarian and have been for a long time now. I just don’t want to eat anything that used to have a face and feelings. My friend Sam used to say I was indoctrinating my kids just because we had a book called “Herb the Vegetarian Dragon”. The bad guy in the book was the evil meat eating dragon called “Meathook”. Ok, I admit I had a bit of an agenda but they are my kids and I wanted them to understand the truth about food choices, to be healthy in body and heart.
I wish I had a penny for every time someone said to me “But what do you eat?” when they find out that I am a vegetarian. I haven’t eaten meat for many, many years and no, I don’t miss it at all.
Sometimes I find it annoying that there are so few choices at restaurants but apart from that I am very comfortable with my choices. I feel healthy and I have a clear conscience about the ethics of my food choices.
The second question is usually ” What about protein/iron?” and often is quickly followed by “Why don’t you eat meat?” or “Are you anaemic?” The answers are that you can get protein and iron from lots of great sources, I don’t like meat and no, I am not anaemic.
Ok, I have answered these questions many, many times and although it does get a little repetitive I am ok with it. In order to hopefully put this beast to bed I am going to give you the rundown on why I have made this very easy choice.
1. I don’t want or need animals to suffer in order to feed me when I am perfectly healthy without it. As Paul McCartney said ” If slaughterhouses had glass walls everyone would be vegetarian”
2. The environmental cost of producing meat is ridiculously high – almost 50% of human caused green house gasses can be attributed to livestock industries. According to the CSIRO 92% of land degradation is caused by animal farming. Astonishingly it takes about 75,000 litres of water to produce one kilo of beef and only 1,500 litres of water for a kilo of grain.
We give enough grain to cattle every year to feed 8.7billion people so there is a good argument here for skipping the meat and using these resources and grain to feed the worlds hungry.
3. It’s simply a healthier way to live. Vegetarians have a much lower incidence of chronic diseases which, according the World Health Organisation, accounts for 63% of worldwide deaths.
Vegetarians are less likely to be overweight, have heart disease and some cancers. They also have better cholesterol levels and are a much reduced risk of developing diabetes.
4. I just don’t like it. It’s as simple as that. I find the smell of meat incredibly off putting and just as some meat eaters look at me like I am missing out on the worlds best food, I look at them and think “Are you really going to cook that pig, cow, bird (insert your own species here) and then eat its legs, wings, offal (insert your own body part here) ???? I guess it just comes down to what feels right for you.
I don’t feel righteous. I don’t try to convert people. I am not trying to make anyone feel bad. I am simply making a choice that is good for me. I hope this answers some of your questions and perhaps gives you some food for thought.