A meaty issue....
I’ve been vegetarian since I was 4 years old. That's pretty much as long as I can remember. I can’t remember a time when I ate meat. Its never been an issue for me.
I'm nearly 6 foot and certainly not skinny. I’ve never lacked nutrients or had any deficiencies. I carried my daughter to 42 weeks and she weighed a very respectable 9lbs 10oz. Clearly not eating meat hasn’t done me too much harm.
Why then must people continually try to sway me to eat meat? Why must every meal with new people have to start with a heated debate about whether or not I should even be vegetarian. How my choice has impacted on their lives and why I really should just give it up now.
The thing is I want to be vegetarian. I choose not to eat meat. Its my absolute right to choose not to eat meat. Its also my right not to have to explain why i don't every 5 minutes.
At university fellow students took pride in trying to get me to eat meat. People more recently have also thought that it would be ‘funny’ to trick me into eating meat. They've tried to 'hide' meat amongst other food stuffs in the vain hope that i'll just munch it all down and not notice. What is the point in that? Its not funny. Or big. Or clever. In fact its selfish and ignorant and disrespectful. Those people are no longer friends of mine.
I’ve encountered a lot of brief vegetarianism. That's people who are vegetarian for a very short period of time. They tend to have very radical views. They lecture fellow vegetarians on what they should and shouldn’t eat and generally make it all a competition as they strive to be vegetarian of the year. Invariably they are eating meat again before the year is out.
My objection is being questioned relentlessly about it. I bet I have more arguments for why I'm vegetarian than why people eat meat. I think the problem people have is that they think its different. That in some way I'm purposely being awkward. I'm not. If its a problem then that's fine. Its never been a problem for me.
So I’ve decided to once and for all answer questions I'm popularly asked. I'll be referring people here as and when these questions crop up. It's like a 'frequently asked question' section of my life. I hope it helps you too should you have any questions or want any ready made answers.
1. Why are you vegetarian?
I'm a vegetarian for moral reasons. I simply don’t agree with killing another animal for our own purpose. I cant bring myself to eat flesh for this reason. That's all it is. I'm the only vegetarian in my family. These are my views, not theirs. I'm not ‘new age’ or ‘hippy’ or trying to be trendy. That's just the way I think and the way I am.
Because I’ve been a vegetarian for so long, its not something which I wake up and think about each day. Its not a conscious thought. Its just the way that it is. That its always been.
I like being vegetarian as I couldn’t bear to eat meat. That said its my individual choice. I respect that other people want to eat meat and that's just fine by me. I'm not trying to ‘recruit’ other members to the veggie club. I'm quite happy in my own world, even if I'm the only member. After all if it makes a difference to me then it makes a difference to the world.
2. Do you wear leather?
No. Leather is a by product of the meat trade and I’d quite happily do without both of them to be honest. Most shoes are now no longer leather as it’s become expensive to produce in comparison to man made products. That said again i can appreciate that other people want to wear it. Similarly i would never wear fur....but thats another issue not for now.
3. Don’t you lack nutrients?
No. I never really have. Not even as a child. Whilst pregnant I took iron tablets towards the end of my pregnancy as I had very slight iron deficiency. This was a lot less of a deficiency than some of my meat eating friends when they were mothers to be. As I’ve already said, she was born naturally at almost 42 weeks. Cant have been that bad for her then.
4. But we’re meant to be carnivores and eat meat?
Actually we’re omnivores. That mean
we eat meat AND vegetables. In fact we eat a lot more meat now than we have ever done and this is likely down to the ease and relative cheapness at which it can be obtained.
If we actually had to go and hunt meat ourselves would we eat so much? I doubt it. Clearly we can survive without meat as many hundreds of people manage to survive without any vegetables. I’ve seen them on Jeremy Kyle.
Lions are carnivores. An entire pride only hunts once about every week and they share the kill. Even they eat less meat than we do now!
5. But our eyes are at the front of our heads and that means we're designed to hunt?
This is one of my absolute favourites. How often have you seen people actually going on a hunt? Or in anyway getting involved in the slaughter/preparation phase? Errr never that's when!
When it comes down to it people like their meat in nice pre prepared packaging with as little connection to where it came from as possible. How many people would want to actually kill their own meat? Very few I would venture to guess. This has to be the lamest argument ever!
6. If we were all vegetarian the cows/sheep/pigs just wouldn’t exist. Surely that would be worse?
Really? Hmmmm. Breeds we don’t eat still exist. They dont automatically become extinct because they're no longer on our menu. We don't eat human flesh and we're not extinct...
The fact is that yes they wouldn’t exist on such a mass scale but that's because we wouldn’t be mass farming them. There’s a reason meat is so cheap and usually that's to the cost of the livestock.
I think I’d be happier if there were fewer animals living in better conditions than more animals living in filthy cramped conditions.
We have more animals now than ever before. That's because we are told that we need meat at every meal. We don’t. We never had it before. Previously people kept there own cow or pig and maybe some chickens and ate meat relatively scarcely. There was a lot less wastage that way as well.
7. So you don’t eat dairy?
Yes, yes I do. That's because I'm a vegetarian, not a vegan. I eat eggs, cheese and drink milk. All free range of course and preferably organic.
8. So you eat fish?
Errr no I'm really a vegetarian. That means nothing with a face. No meat no fish and also no chicken (yes I know that's meat, other ‘vegetarians’ however often still eat chicken!!) Why class fish as a different type of produce to meat? Essentially I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything which had to be killed first.
9. But surely the vegetables are killed?
Another old time favourite. If you think that and have it on your conscience shouldn’t you be the vegetarian?
There is a diet called fruitarian where people only eat produce which has naturally fallen from the tree. Each to their own. This isn’t however my view.
Ill quite happily eat vegetables and fruit as they are different to meat and fish. Entirely different. For one they do not have brains. They don’t have eyes. They don’t breath through a respiratory system.
So yes they are a living organism but they can be completely distinguished from meat and fish. Even Buddhist monks eat fruit and veg.
10. Will you make your baby be vegetarian too?
I used to get asked this about my dogs. The answer is the same for both. NO! It was my choice to be vegetarian and if my baby wants to eat meat when she’s older then that's fine. The same goes for if she doesn’t. The point is that it has to be her choice.
I also cook meat often for my partner and family. Its their choice to eat meat and mine not to. I'm not going to try and ‘convert’ them to vegetarianism. I think that would do the image more harm than good.
My point in this blog is basically that whatever people believe they should or shouldn’t eat is fine. It shouldn’t be a point of debate. I don’t preach at others about eating meat and I don’t want to be preached at in return. Live and let live! (quite literally from my point of view!!)