Note: If you do not want to think about vegetarianism, stop reading and go have a piece of bacon. I absolutely understand.
Today is my six-month vegiversary. When I decided to become a vegetarian, I decided I wouldn't publically self-identify as one until I had been meat-free for six months.
I'm a vegetarian.
Here are some things I want to say for the record:
1. Becoming a vegetarian was like a conversion experience for me, but, unlike the one I had when I was 12, it was not fueled by fear of the End Times. I read a book and realized that being a vegetarian was easy. It wasn't like meditating or learning Spanish; it was a passive decision. I just decided not to eat some things. Not doing something is much easier than doing something.
2. I don't feel like I have an iron deficiency. I take a multivitamin. I eat leafy greens. I don't need blood in order to get iron. There are entire cultures who are vegetarian and survive quite nicely. Hello, Hindus! Love you!
3. Yes, I like the taste of meat. I don't like that something with a brain and a heartbeat and a nervous system had to die so I can eat its flesh.
4. I feel like I get enough protein. I have a bottle of Bean-O in my kitchen.
5. Yes, it's harder. It's difficult to go out to eat, and family get-togethers are a bit of a nightmare. Yes, it's worth it.
6. I like vegetables much more now than I did six months ago.
7. I still eat dairy products. I find this slightly incongruous, but I haven't gotten to the point where I'm willing to give them up. I may never get to that point. I justify it to myself by saying that nothing had to die in order for me to drink my milk. One could easily argue that the way the dairy industry treats cows is horrific and shouldn't be supported and that our dependence on the milk of another animal is weird and gross. I hear you. Intellectually, I agree with you. I'm still eating cheese. (Sorry.)
8. I'm really happy with this life change, and the temptation to try to convert everyone else is strong. I am trying to be aware of that and not be obnoxious. I'm guessing I fail with some regularity, and I sincerely apologize.
And here are the main reasons why I made this choice, which, unfortunately, I have a hard time distilling when an aunt asks why I'm not eating her green beans flavored with bacon:
1. It takes around 15-17 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. The world would have a lot more food if we'd eat the grain instead of the cow.
2. Animal farming is a significant contributor to global warming.
3. The way animals are slaughtered in this country is horrific. I don't want to be part of that system. "You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
4. I feel not eating meat is an ethical decision. It would be great if nothing had to die in order for me to live, but that's not the way the system is set up. Since I'm not willing to starve to death, I will try to eat in a way that does the least amount of harm. Eating plants, in my mind at least, does less harm than eating animals.
5. I believe having the ability to kill and choosing not to do it is Right Action, one of the Eight Noble Truths.
6. I feel better looking into my dog's eyes knowing I don't have dead animal in my stomach.
To become vegetarian is to step into the stream of Nirvana.
Happy Vegiversary to me!