I’m going vegetarian

So, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I’ve finally decided that I’m going to go vegetarian. Not vegan – I’ll still eat dairy and eggs for now, but I have decided to give up seafood in addition to not having eaten meat in three years.

I gave up meat one day a few years ago. I got to a point where I had a personal epiphany. I realized that animals were being slaughtered in brutal ways, sandwiched into machines, and squirted in plastic containers in regular geometric shapes before being sold for consumption by people who prefer not to know where it comes from. I realized that I am actually only comfortable eating food I’m willing to prepare from scratch myself – and I can’t bring myself to kill animals. On some level, I actually respect those who are willing to do this; at least they’re consistent all the way.

Back in the 1990s and early 21st century, I was the biggest consumer of KFC in the UK. I could have won a prize for my unhealthy diet, and those late night trips helped me invent the notion of “4th meal”, way before Taco Bell corporation trademarked it. I was huge (over 215lbs – I am now generally under 165lbs and trying to get down to 154), very unhealthy, and I loved to eat murdered chicken covered in whatever sauce was available, with a few sides, and some chips (US: French Fries). Then, one day, I woke up. I realized this was unhealthy, and worse, that I was contributing to a global problem that is the meat industry that cares only about profit, at all costs (environment, animal welfare, etc.).

Religion came into it on some level too. I’ve never been religious, per se. But it’s only in recent times that I’ve actually moved myself from the “agnostic” to the “atheist” pigeon hole. And in so doing, I’ve re-evaluated my importance in the world. There is no “god given right” to eat animals. They’re not lower life forms who deserve to die for our pleasure, and we should not be killing them to put them on our tables at night. As human beings, we don’t need to eat meat to enjoy ourselves, but society chooses to do this – especially in the US, where everything contains some kind of meat unless specifically labeled otherwise. Just ask American Airlines, next time they fail to supply a vegetarian meal and offer to take the meat out of it for you – this has happened on several separate occasions.

Actually, it was a slow bubbling process to reach that realization – that I should stop eating meat. I guess I started to really think about it when I went to a mechatronics lecture given by the IEEE back in the last century. I was probably the only “highschool” kid there, and don’t worry if you’ve never heard of the term. Essentially, without going into mechatronics on a larger level, the presenter talked about the most elaborate and most highly automated cattle slaughtering machine yet conceived. Literally, a cow goes in at one end, and burgers come out at the other. You can completely remove yourself from the process, just like we enjoy doing in other aspects of our modern day lives.

It’s funny how you can kid yourself into thinking it’s ok to eat seafood when you’ve given up meat. I guess I labeled salmon as somehow a lower form of life, and oysters, well, they clearly didn’t even deserve the time of day. But after one too many exercises in self rationalizing my actions, I’ve decided I can’t continue to kid myself into thinking it’s ok to eat fish and sea food and not eat meat too. I’ve simply got to give up that tasty salmon because it’s the right thing to do. Not because I particularly dislike the food – quite the contrary – but because it’s the only rational and right thing for me to be doing at this stage in my life.

And don’t worry, I won’t tell you what you “should” or “should not” do. That’s entirely your call – and that’s another way we can distinguish ourselves as human beings, by not trying to convert others but solely by living our own lives in ways in which we feel morally comfortable within ourselves.



2 Responses to “I’m going vegetarian”

  1. dan white says:

    Yes, concern about animals is a good reason. I am vegetarian for health reasons and the simplicity of it. I also use nonfat milk and egg whites. What I found was that food preferences are learned and after about 2 weeks without meat, I started noticing a gamey odor to meat that I hadn’t noticed before except in deer, elk, etc. Now it all smells that way to me. I have unlearned the taste for meat I suppose. I also learned to like tomatoes which I figured were good for me, but never liked before. Food preferences have to be learned. Otherwise there is no rational for why some cultures eat whale blubber, seal eyes, and raw fish, among many other foods. It will take some time, but you can do it.

    I use milk cause I haven’t found a good substitute for liquid on my puffed wheat cereal. Soy just isn’t tasty. The 8th Continent Light Chocolate is really good stuff, but not on cereal. I get a good supply of cheap eggs and feed the yolks to my dog, so that explains the eggs, but really there is no need for eggs or milk either. Lentils, for example are 50% protein. Oats are 13% protein. Protein is easy to get on a vegetarian diet, even without soy.

    Being vegetarian is easy for me, since I really don’t like meat and especially fish to begin with. I also have never tried any of the meat look-alike products like Veggieburgers. I figure if I don’t like meat, I sure don’t want to try something that tries to taste and look like it. An added benefit to vegetarinaism if you want to go that way is the low cost. If you were to make lentils, brown rice, oats your staples, those are about 6 cents a serving.

    I like simplicity and strive for it. I drive a simple, Spartan, no frills car, lead a simple life and eat simple food. Vegetarianism lends itself to this idea, making a lighter ecological footprint. Good luck, Dan.

  2. Alexia says:

    Well done, Jon! You made a great choice… It’s cool that you realised after 3 years of not eating meat to go the full hog (ok, not a good pun) and go vegetarian, giving up fish too. This is the best lifestyle anyone can adopt, other than going vegan of course, and the animals will thank you! It’s World Vegetarian Week coming up soon and I’m looking to recruit some non-vegetarians to ditch the meat and fish for a week, so if you know of anyone get in touch!

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