Posts Tagged ‘eating meat’

“Why Meat” by Cindy

11 years and 7 months (or so). That’s how long I was a vegetarian.

Here is a post from a previous blog explaining my decision to stop eating meat all those years ago (circa 2003):

(postscript… I once called this page “The Veggie Connection”, but apparently there is an internet dating service with that name and some poor souls looking for that ended up here. Never let it be said that I’m not flexible.)

Ok – the purpose of this page is to give my reasons for being a vegetarian. Please realize that this is not because I want to change anyone else, but simply explain my personal reasons. I am often asked why, and it is something I feel strongly about, so I felt it deserved a space on my website. Besides, it’s my website so I can put whatever I want to on it. You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to.

So…

A couple of years ago I really started asking myself why it seemed OK for me to eat a cow, a pig, or a chicken, but not a cute wittle bunny wabbit. Or a dog or cat for that matter. And then I started to wonder if I would ever actually be able to kill my food before eating it. Could I seriously whack a cow, and then butcher it? Doubtful. And this bothered me. So then I tried not eating meat for a while, and frankly I felt healthier and better about myself very quickly, so I did a bit of research and decided to stop eating meat permanently. The more I thought about it and looked into it, the more I realized that I really didn’t approve of how we treat animals, especially in North America. Between factory farming, growth hormones and other unnatural injections, and the ridiculous amount of meat consumed by North Americans, I realized that I didn’t want to support this industry any more. In addition, the effects on the environment (waste from factory-farming in our own backyard, and losing rainforest to cattle ranches in the South), and the fact that there simply isn’t enough land space on earth to feed the world meat, only furthered my resolve.

So I think that about covers it. Philosophically I should be vegan, but I really really like cheese. So instead I have tried to cut down on eating dairy products and one day I may be able to go all the way. There you are. It’s all about making choices that make you happy with who you are. Being a vegetarian does not mean I judge anyone else for eating meat. Do what makes you feel good.”

I read that post now, and I still believe everything I wrote there, and yet, in November of last year, I started eating meat again. And no, contrary to what many people thought it would be, it wasn’t the smell of bacon that turned me back into a carnivore.

It was a combination of fear and knowledge.

The fear was that I would always wonder if my failure to get pregnant could be attributed in any way to a protein deficiency due to my vegetarianism. I know it was not entirely logical – lots of vegan and vegetarian women get pregnant, but as I was willing to take crazy amounts of medical intervention (a la IVF) in order to try and conceive, it seemed reasonable to try eating meat. A friend suggested an ayurvedic approach (which generally favours a vegetarian diet, by the way), and I dove right into eating 4 ounces of red meat every day for 2 weeks. Surprisingly, my stomach did not revolt in quite the way I expected. I discovered that I like my red meat in burgers or sausages best (you can have those steaks), and I felt fine. Bacon is OK, too.

The knowledge came from my increased understanding over the years of how important livestock are to integrated sustainable farms. I have learned that the manure and nutrient cycling provided by livestock are very important to growing vegetables and grains, and my understanding that the domestication of livestock allowed humans to stop roaming and develop agriculture leads me to believe that if we want to continue living in settlements, we may need to continue raising meat. Further realizing that I would be supporting the use of livestock whether I had them or not (where did I think that fertilizer for my tomatoes and cucumbers was going to come from?), I decided that I would feel less hypocritical supporting the kind of farming that I believe in by buying and eating meat from ethical suppliers than I was beginning to feel in avoiding meat altogether.

I am still vehemently against factory farming (see www.themeatrix.com for an entertaining approach to these concerns), and that is why I continue to eat vegetarian at restaurants and tell people I am vegetarian when coming for dinner. I do not want to put meat that has lived a poor life and been filled with antibiotics and growth hormones, contributed to terrible pollution of our land and water, and then been mass slaughtered in an inhumane environment into my body, and I do not want to demand that my hosts go out and buy expensive organic (and preferably local) meat. It’s far easier in most situations for me to just wear the happy vegetarian hat and enjoy my vegetables. Beans are cheap.

The one place where I still feel uncomfortable about eating meat is in the killing question. I am still pretty sure that if I had to kill a cow and slaughter it in order to survive, that I might starve to death while cuddling that cow. I don’t know for sure, and I hope I never find out. I do feel a little guilty being the person willing to eat the meat but unwilling to participate in the processing of it, but so far, I can live with that. There are people out there who are capable of processing that animal in a respectful manner, and I appreciate that. It probably helps that I believe my husband is one of them.

I cannot claim to feel healthier now that I am eating meat, but there are too many other factors that have influenced my health this year for me to give an objective opinion on that. I think some answers can be found in seasonal eating (really enjoying a book called “The 3-Season Diet” by John Douillard), and I certainly continue to believe that meat should be enjoyed in moderation. I have no need or desire to eat meat on a daily basis, and I suspect that the lack of nutrients in factory-farmed meat leads many people’s bodies to desire more meat than necessary – creating a cycle of craving food that doesn’t actually provide the nutrients that their bodies need.

Do I think all vegetarians should reform and start eating meat? Absolutely not. I think we all need to listen to our bodies and discover what feels best for us. I believe that the world can support a mixture of vegetarians and carnivores and fruititarians and raw foodists and omnivores and… Basically, I do not think that there is one answer that fits every person and every situation.

Do I think all carnivores should reform and stop eating factory-farmed meat? Yes.

Do I think that will happen any time soon? No, but I hope that we will get there eventually. Given the glorification of the economy that governs policies in agriculture, I think it will be a bit of a slog. I am very confused by agricultural policies that negate a free-market economy and treat us consumers as too ignorant to make our own decisions. When we are able to convince policy-makers that we have the right to make our own decisions over what we eat (I fully support “buyer-beware” policies over strict guidelines that limit our options), I think we will make great progress.

In the meantime, I will continue to eat beans when I can’t afford or find good healthy meat. And I give myself permission to change my mind and be vegetarian again at any time. Whether that’s today, tomorrow, or 12 years from now.

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