Tuesday, August 19, 2008

To be a vegetarian

In the mail this morning I received my "vegetarian starter kit" from PETA. It's actually just a fancy flyer, but they've got some good recipes and resources and, of course, a whole section on the various ways animals are cruelly treated in the meat industry. Oh, and humorously, they include a bunch of quotes from celebrities who are veggies. I'm sure some people will stop eating chickens because Joaquin Phoenix says it's not cool to eat them, but personally I've got more realistic reasons to cut out meat.

First, I ate some bad pork bits (rinds or something?) after a workout a few years ago because I thought protein would be a good idea. Turns out it was a very, very bad idea. Within two hours of eating the meat I was experiencing the worst stomach cramps of my life, followed by the forceful expulsion of the offending food from both ends. After that I was put off pork for quite some time. I doubt a plate of fruit and crackers would have caused me such distress.

Second, it's become pretty obvious to me that the meat industry, at least in first-world countries, has managed to stream-line the production and distribution of animal parts in the same way as any other mass-produced commodity. The problem is that while softwood lumber does not suffer when cut and packaged, animals unfortunately do. After seeing a big truck with the chickens stuffed in little cramped boxes for the first time I was horrified and vowed to never eat another chicken. (This didn't last, especially during my time in South Korea, but I hope to get back on track.)

Third, it's so easy now to find meat (and even dairy) alternatives, and it seems to be healthier to eat less or no meat. Eating more fruits and vegetables is without a doubt a smart move, and in cutting out meat one is forced to be more conscious of diet. So it's healthier for people and certainly healthier for the piggies.

I don't think it's going to be easy to be so careful about what I'm eating every day, and it's going to be tempting to want to eat meat for a while, but I'll get over it. If I lived on a farm and humanely killed an animal and cured the meat myself I would feel justified in eating it. However, living in the suburbs and being able only to buy meat from the giant grocery chains, I can only assume that I am supporting this industry of animal cruelty.

So here goes my initial attempt to become a full-fledged vegetarian.


Annalea_sea said...

me too! I want a starter kit. But not if it's only celebrity quotes. A big free box of organic, local vegetables and three free vegetarian cooking classes would be a great starter kit. But I'm right there with you, starting the veggie life...

Adriana Bucz said...

I think someone has to speak up for softwood lumber, so it's going to be me. Even though plants are not deemed "sentient" by our standards, they are very much alive, and, as such, we have no evidence that they don't in fact suffer when being put through the mill. Some scientists studying carrots a few years back found that the carrot was in a state of extreme cellular distress when being chopped up, akin to the distress that our skin cells go through under the same kind of duress. So give a thought to your poor veggies. They just might feel and hurt too.