Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Why I Started Eating Meat Again after 12 Years as a Vegetarian

Getting personal with The Conscious Shopper

This post has been in the works for about six months now, but I've been dreading sitting down to write it because of the possible backlash. I know how passionate vegetarians can be - I was one for 12 years. Some of this post also touches a little bit on my religious beliefs, which I generally like to keep personal and private. So please as you read this, keep an open mind, and be kind in your comments even if you disagree.

First the backstory:

I became a vegetarian on the day I started college, a few months before my 19th birthday, but I had been transitioning into vegetarianism for several years. I first started thinking about becoming a vegetarian when I was a freshman in high school after learning about factory farms, but when I told my mom, her response was basically, "Fine, but I'm not cooking you extra meals." As in, if you don't want to eat what I cook, you can make yourself a peanut butter sandwich. So I stopped eating meat for breakfast and lunch, but I still ate it when my mom served it for dinner.

In my early years as a vegetarian, I tried explaining to people about factory farms and the mistreatment of animals, but I got a lot of disbelieving and even mean responses, and since I'm not a confrontational person, I gave up trying to spread the vegetarian gospel. When people would ask why I was a vegetarian, I always said, "I don't think it's necessary to eat meat to survive. If it ever were necessary, I would eat meat, but with all of our modern conveniences, I don't need to, so I don't." This is a true answer, but it's not the whole answer. For me, vegetarianism was always about the animals.

On the other hand, I'm not a believer in animal rights, per se. Animals are animals, not people. I believe that animals should be treated with love and respect because they are God's creation. As humans, we were given stewardship over the earth, including caring for animals, and we're doing a really crappy job of it. How can we return to our Heavenly Father and explain that we kept his animals in tiny cages, fed them food they weren't created to eat, and filled them up with antibiotics...because we really like hamburgers? Out of respect for animals, but mostly out of my love for God and his beautiful earth, I chose to opt out of that system.

Which leads me to...

Why I started eating meat again:
  • I found new options. Back when I went veggie, there weren't any other options. Or maybe it just felt that way because I was living in rural Kentucky. Either way, for me the choices were eating factory farmed meat or giving up meat entirely. But when we moved to Raleigh a year and a half ago, we discovered all sorts of ways to obtain meat without supporting factory farms. There is an amazing farmers market and several CSAs with small family farms that care for the environment and raise their animals humanely. We have access to grass fed beef, pasture raised chickens (and eggs), and free range pork. One farm even has ostriches.
  • You can blame Michael Pollan (or Joel Salatin, or my own CSA farmer, Richard Holcombe). The more I read, the more convinced I became that animals are an important, if not essential, part of agriculture. Vegetarians always make the argument about how many people could be fed if we all stopped eating meat, but the numbers they use - the amount of corn and soy that could go to people instead of animals - are based on the amount of corn and soy we're growing with conventional farming methods (think chemical fertilizer and pesticides). If we stopped feeding all that corn to cows but also stopped spraying the soil with tons of fertilizer, would we still be able to grow as much corn? I don't know the answer for sure, but I do know that when farmers rotate crops and animals, the soil is naturally fertilized. Pigs also make great rototillers, and chickens make good pesticides. I still know very little about farming, but the method that involves both animals and plants seems to me to be a very beautiful, perfectly designed system.
  • My husband never wanted to be a vegetarian. I kind of forced him into it. The compromise when we got married was that we would have some vegetarian nights and some nights with a meat option (for example, I would eat spaghetti with marinara, he would eat spaghetti with meatballs). But as the years passed and I cooked more and more of our meals, the meat option nights grew farther and farther between until finally they disappeared all together. My husband never complained, but when we moved to Raleigh and suddenly had the option to buy ethically raised meat, he started asking for it. Finally, I asked him one day, "Do you want to drink Coke or do you want to eat meat? If you'd rather eat meat, I'll stop buying Coke and we can shift that money to a meat budget." He chose the meat.
  • My iron was low. I absolutely believe that it's possible to eat a vegetarian (even a vegan) diet and be perfectly healthy. Because I was a vegetarian, I know a lot more about nutrition requirements than most people, and I was more aware of whether or not I was eating a well-rounded diet. Maybe I started slacking off, or maybe it was having three babies in five years...Either way, my iron was low. Then my kids started testing low for iron, and I think that was the last straw. I decided that we should all start eating some meat (and take multi-vitamins).
So What Now?

Americans eat too much meat. Waaaay too much meat. And our sense of entitlement for comfort and luxury at a cheap price has led to a system that mistreats living creatures to meet the demand of consumers who view the end product with tunnel vision. We need to eat less meat, we need to end the use of factory farms, and we need to make more conscious decisions about what we choose to put in our mouths.

I think that people choosing to be vegetarians and vegans is an important part of the solution, but I no longer think it's the only answer. I've decided that at least for my family, it's okay on occasion to eat ethically and humanely raised meat.

So how much is "on occasion"? We've been eating meat approximately one meal a week, or put another way: we eat vegetarian for 20 out of every 21 meals. I also buy a dozen eggs and enough milk and cheese to provide two servings a day for each member of my family. Sometimes I contemplate adding a little more meat to our diet, but the tightwad in me talks me out of that idea really fast. Beans are the perfect frugal food.

And maybe this is hypocritical of me, but I still call myself a vegetarian. It's just a lot easier to say, "I'm a vegetarian" than to say, "I eat meat sometimes, but I won't eat your meat."

For years when people would ask me if I was raising my kids to be vegetarians, I always said, "Vegetarianism is a personal choice. I would never force anyone to be a vegetarian, but I hope they'll choose to be." My answer now is a little different. I hope my boys will grow up knowing where food comes from, whether it's a carrot or a sausage. And I hope they'll have love and respect for the people who grew and raised that food, for the earth that provided it, and for their Heavenly Father who created it all.

71 comments:

Kelly said...

grreat post. sums up my familys apporoach to vegetarianism- we now eat ethically raised meat once in a while.

panamamama said...

Wonderfully put. I agree with you wholeheartedly. We eat meat a little more than you do, probably half the time, but small portions and only chicken, fish, turkey and eggs at home (because I'm a tight-wad and free-range organic is expensive!)

Eco Yogini said...

perfect post Erin. I agree with you wholeheartedly. And I'm so jealous that you have such access to humanely raised meat! sigh- i think my goal for the summer is to explore better meat options....

I do think that Andrew and I need to decrease our meat eating and find more alternatives. This year we'll be growing beans on our balcony!

I'm also not a fan of soy products as alternatives (read: pesticides, monocultures and GMOs).

greeen sheeep said...

Wonderful post! We have drastically reduced out meat consumption. We are not vegetarians, but damn near. Last week I bought a chicken, a capon, and stew meat. I couldn't believe how much it added to my grocery bill! I guess it has been a while since I purchased any meat. Funny thing is, I used to think that vegetables were expensive! Now my point of view has flipped. One of my goals for this year, while still keeping meat consumption low is to find better sources for it. When we do eat meat I would like it to be locally, ethically raised. And not packaged in plastic!!!

Wendy said...

Thank you for that wonderfully thought-out explanation. I was a vegetarian for a while, too, and my reason had to do with the fact that, at the time, I felt better when I wasn't eating meat. Then, I got pregnant and was nursing, and my nutritional needs changed.

Since that time, I've learned a great deal about factory farming, and if eating factory farmed meat were my only choice, I would stop eating meat, but like you, I have alternatives to factory farmed meat. I live in an area where there are a lot of farmers, and my husband and I raise some of our own meat here on our quarter-acre, suburban lot.

I also appreciate that you included the argument regarding how much soy and corn would be available if we weren't using it as animal fodder, but frankly, I wouldn't eat it. I'll never eat soy again, unless I grow it. A startling statistic I learned recently revealed that 98% of the soy and 80% of the corn products available to us are GMOs.

It's awful how careful we have to be, because everything that's available through the traditional (i.e. grocery store) food chain is suspect (factory farmed meat, GMO produce), and the only way I've found to combat it is to eat local for as many products as we can find.

The Raven said...

We went through the same kind of transformation. My husband and I were both vegetarians for almost twenty years. (I always ate meat at my parents' house.) At the end of those years, we almost completely were vegan. Pregnancy changed a lot for me personally--but the combination of the non-corporate food options available with our son's soy allergy pushed us to make new decisions. I feel we eat better now--and more sustainably for both the environment and our community--by living off the food produced right here. Funny how many people have gone through the same thinking process!

Crystal said...

This is a great post! We're definitely coming at it from the other side of things trying to transition to more vegetarian meals and ethically produced meat. I just wanted to say that I'm so jealous of all the things that are available in Raleigh. We get a chance to pick things up when we're there, but there isn't much available out here in the east.

Bea Elliott said...

Oh, I understand what a dilemma this can be for some... So sad it is, that no matter how "happy" the animal lived it still must be forced to relinquish his or her life for our human tastebuds and human habits.

The "justification" is always difficult - As you say, we don't "need" meat to survive... Tough decision - to kill for pleasure...

It's so hard to separate from the actions of a M Vick - who also killed for pleasure and without necessity... Hard to separate the line between enjoyment and gluttony...

Society is certainly grappling with this scenario. It seems as we evolve, that there is a distinct divide as to what is ethically acceptable or not.

It's so strange now, to hear so many in my (55 and older)
generation - That we wished our parents had been more aware of alternatives to "meat"... You only realize when you get up there in age, how much better your health may have been, if you had better choices as a child. But then most of us are comforted knowing that then, our parents had little information to raise us differently.

This abundant wealth of knowledge parents have now, will make it quite difficult to fall back on that same reasoning...

Thanks for inviting comment.

Imie said...

I admire your courage to speak your mind.

It's a tough balancing act.

Thank you!

Rosa said...

I admire your courage too, especially since there are people like Bea out there commenting. Supporting local grass-based agriculture in places where it's appropriate is an important part of sustainability, and it's frustrating to be putting a chunk of your time and money into that and be looked down on by vegans munching on "fresh" Chilean fruit.

It seems like lot of vegetarians I know have become nonvegetarians lately.

Some because of difficult-to-feed kids - this includes a few lifetime vegetarian parents whose kids didn't thrive on the same diet.

Some of them because they always had some exceptions (I'm a vegetarian but I eat what my in-laws or parents serve; I'm a vegetarian except for Thanksgiving gravy, etc) so they changed their label without changing their behavior.

Lisa Sharp said...

Erin what a great post! I was lucky as a kid to often have grass-fed, local, humanely raised beef. We were homeschooled and another homeschooled family raised cattle. We were on their farm often and knew how the cows were raised. I also grew up knowing where food comes from, something many didn't. My mom did the best she could with what she knew.

Now I eat all humane meat. The one thing I need to do better is eat vegetarian when away from home. We rarely eat out as I have a severe mushroom allergy and people at least around here seem to think allergy means I will sneeze, even when I say "I have a life threatening allergy." So after far to many times of ending up with mushrooms in or around my food my husband and I cut back on food out because we had to and it worked out great for us. We have one place in our town were we will eat because we know the staff (VERY well, we were invited to the managers wedding) and they know my allergy, for most of them I don't even have to tell them.

I still eat some meat there but it's Italian and I love their ravioli so it's not real common I eat meat there. When we go out of town to a near by town to shop we go to four places, a local sandwich shop (I eat meat there but this is the least often place we go), Chipotle (which if nothing else their food is better than most places and they have no mushrooms), a locally owned restaurant which my mom and I call our hippie restaurant, they serve humane, local when they can and often organic food, and we also eat at a place that is semi-local (chain but only in a few states) and their I get baked potato soup without the bacon so it's vegetarian other than they use chicken stock.

Anyway I love animals as well and honestly I'm not that big of a meat eater so I don't mind not eating it. I do have low iron so I try and eat some red meat each month but our red meat is grass-fed, local, humane bison. It's high in omega 3's and super lean.

As I think you know I'm a Quaker and I also feel we must treat the earth AND animals with respect. Living in rural Oklahoma and telling people you don't eat much meat is not easy, my brother is a vegetarian and he is give a hard time a lot. At least we have a lot of farms around here so a pretty good amount of local meat, and most farmers seem to be old school and still raise the animals like there g-parents did.

Allie said...

This is a fantastic post! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this. I know it can be hard to talk about stuff like this. There shouldn't be backlash - everyone has a right to make their own choices - but I know there often is.

2 Green Acres said...

I am trying to reduce the amount of meat in my diet and buy more ethically raised me. I really enjoyed the post.

I think Bea has it wrong. There is a huge difference between humanely killing an animal and torturing an animal.

One thing that I think people forget is that, like it or not, cows and chickens have been domesticated, and if we no longer used them for food, they would not survive - it's not like we can set them free to live in the wild.

Some people might still think it better to let cows go extinct than to eat them or "enslave" them for their milk. I can respect that opinion. However, it really annoys me when people act like "if only we stopped eating beef, all of the cows could live happily ever after, spending their days romping around in a beautiful pasture." Not going to happen.

Bea Elliott said...

Well, I don't know that I said anything that was untrue... With so many now thriving on a plant based diet --- It's difficult to justify killing animals.

And if we don't kill them for a "need" then that only leaves for "pleasure". I just think those who do such should own the full consequences of their choices.

What I think is disturbing is a recent flux of folks who really want to portray themselves as "compassionate" people. We all like to think of ourselves as civilized and kind. But this does require walking the walk...

Compassion generally is not defined by doing the "least harm" but making efforts to "eliminate" harm... I don't know that humane "meat" qualifies for such.

And I'm sorry if I don't see it another way... Too many years of critical thinking I suppose.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Allie - Yeah, my husband told me I was worrying too much about it, and so far he was right. But I've been on the side of enthusiastic vegetarians who want to change the world, and I've also been attacked by meat eaters for criticizing how meat is produced. It's funny how passionate people can get about their food choices.

Donna said...

What a great post! I'm not a vegetarian -- never have been -- but I was totally shocked when I started to learn about factory-raised animals and how we treat them. Fortunately, I live in a place where there are a lot of other options.

I found a local farm patterned after Salatin's farm and it is truly a wonderful place. So I bought a whole chicken from them -- one chicken -- and it was just under $20. Ouch! But then I thought, maybe that's the way it's supposed to be. We should raise all our animals humanely, which will cost a fortune, and then we'll all eat a lot less meat because it's so expensive.

Johanna said...

You do realize that every time someone who eats flesh continues to call themselves a vegetarian it makes it more likely that people will serve vegetarians meat, assuming that it's somehow vegetarian? I can't count the number of times people have suggested I order fish when I've told them I didn't eat meat. I'm sure there have been other times I ate meat without knowing it because someone assumed it was vegetarian.

The word "flexitarian" would provide some insight into your diet without devaluing what "vegetarian" means & making things harder for people who are vegetarians.

greenyankee said...

I like all that you had to say about supporting local CSA's/Farmers Markets, especially when pasture - raised is guaranteed. Only humanely and intelligently raised animals can provide real nourishment.

I also have tried mostly or entirely vegetarian diets in the past, and it does not work for me at all, I feel depleted and irritable constantly. I am recovering from cancer and have recently tried to transition to the "Paleo - Diet/Primal Blueprint", which are guidelines to eating the way our ancestors did for 2 million years, before we cultivated grains.

Grains are the real inappropriate thing to be eating, whether directly or indirectly through factory - farmed meat.

Find out more at
www.marksdailyapple.com.

Michael said...

I am kind of baffled by your reasons for starting to eat meat. You said you started because you did not like factory farms and mistreatment of animals.

It seems to me that the ultimate mistreatment of an animal is to kill it, and it seems to me that killing an animal that is having a nice free range life is actually worse than killing an animal that is suffering in a factory farm because in the first one you are cutting short a happy existence and in the other you are stopping the suffering.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Johanna - I sympathize with your point, but I respectfully disagree. Telling people I'm a flexitarian means they'll be more likely to put meat in MY dish, which just like you, I don't want. Telling people I'm a vegetarian spreads the vegetarian message, and I think it's a much more important first step to eat less meat than to eat ethically raised meat. As I say in the post, Americans eat too much meat. Plus most people don't know that I ever eat meat, and those that do are good friends and family and don't need a silly term like flexitarian. For blogging purposes, perhaps calling myself a flexitarian would be better, but this is a fairly recent (in the past six months change) and until I had written this post explaining my reasons why, I didn't want to confuse people.

How can you eat meat and not know it?

greenyankee said...

Guess what? Plants are living beings just the same as animals!

All life is sustained by some kind of death. Grain and Soy farming affects animal life because the monoculture farming that these crops require displaces vast amounts of wildlife. No one escapes some blood on their hands.

"Sorry Vegans: Brussel Sprouts like to live, too" -- http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/22/science/22angi.html?_r=2&scp=2&sq=ANGIER&st=cse

Rosa said...

Michael, i grew up in a meat-processing-factory town, in a state full of confinement hog operations, and I'm very sure there are worse things than being killed.

Plus, for me the choice isn't meat vs. lacto-ovo - if you're eating milk or cheese, you're funding the slaughter of those animals when their production slows down. And where I live now we literally have six months of winter and lots and lots of nice cow- (and bison, the meat we usually buy) pasture.

FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com said...

It sounds like a good compromise to me.

I don't know if I can give up meat to the extent of only have 1/21 meals being with meat, but I do enjoy vegetarian options once in a while, if it can feel and taste like meat in my mouth (mushrooms, monk's meat)

And I don't think you're being hypocritical at all. If you can buy ethically raised, organic meats, why not?

The point you made about vegetarian believers pushing a meatless world based on what our consumption is at the current moment for soy and what not was eye opening for me.

Olivia said...

A vegetarian for most of my life, I began eating meat when I was diagnosed with celiac disease at the same time as I started graduate school. With all my studies, my restricted diet and a family to feed (most of whom liked meat) I just could not spread myself that thin. Plus - I was also anemic as was my vegetarian daughter. Something had to give. Although many years have passed and most of the kids have left home, I still eat meat, occasionally, although mostly fish as we live by the ocean.

I also agree with "greenyankee" - plants are living things as well. At one point in my vegetarianism I became so aware of killing things that I decided to become a fruitarian - in other words, I would only eat "fruit", including nuts, etc,that were freely given by plants. But then - they are usually the seed bearing parts of the plants and you can see where that line of thinking leads.

The sad truth is - we have to eat and, in order to eat, we have to kill something - that's just the way it is.

I'm just grateful that I have any food at all - way too many people have very little to eat at all. Or nothing. Maybe if we spent more time, money and energy on solving that problem rather than arguing over our various food choices, we might have a better world.

Sarah said...

Thank you for this post! I too was a vegetarian, from middle school through college, and began eating meat again for similar reasons. I always had to defend my vegetarianism to meat-eaters in the past, and now I feel like I need to defend my meat-eating to veggies.

When I really take the time to think about it, I still feel uncomfortable with the idea of eating meat at all, even if it is ethically raised. But for right now, for my life, I don't think being a vegetarian is possible. That may change in the future, but it helps to know there are others crossing the line between vegetarianism and omnivorousness (is that a word?) successfully.

greenyankee said...

The following is from Sally Fallon's outstanding book "Nourishing Traditions". Here she explains why the marriage of pasture - fed livestock & horticulture is essential for a sustainable food system:

"A far more serious threat to humanity [vs. raising animals) is the monoculture of grains and legumes, which tends to deplete the soil and requires the use of artificial pesticides and fertilizers. The educated consumer and the enlightened farmer together can bring about the return of the mixed farm, where where cultivation of fruits and vegetables is combined with the raising of livestock and fowl in a manner that is efficient, economical and environmentally - friendly. Cattle providing rich manure are the absolute basis for healthy, sustainable farming... IT IS NOT ANIMAL CULTIVATION that leads to hunger and famine, but unwise agricultural systems and monopolistic distribution systems."

"Nourish Traditions", pg. 31

mherzog said...

Here is a good video on the subject: http://meat.org

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Sarah -I agree. I'm always saying to my husband, " You know what would make this meal good? Less meat and more beans."

Lisa said...

Brave post. I myself am a vegan, and I live this way because I don't believe in unnecessary killing. All the vegans who live now and have come before me prove (and the American Dietetic Association backs up) the fact that humans don't need to eat animals to survive or be healthy. We do need to eat fruits and vegetables. We do NOT need to eat animals. (In fact, there are many, many negative effects on our health if we do eat meat.)

Since we don't need to, it is unnecessary to kill animals for food. Therefore, the only reason (or, excuse) to do so is for selfishness (taste, convenience, tradition, whatever).

I applaud you for thinking about whom you eat, but I agree with Bea Elliott that a critical thinking class or two would help you to decide whether or not you truly DO believe it's morally acceptable for you to eat animals.

Also, to those who speak of "humane slaughter," please do your research. I don't want to have to humanely slaughter -without need- your friends, family, and pets to prove my point).

Bea Elliott said...

greenyankee said "No one escapes some blood on their hands."

So *some accidental death is the same as *much deliberate death?

Purposely breeding *many animals - just to consume them, can hardly be compared to *occassional and unintentional death.

That Times piece... just as absurd now as when I saw it before.

So... If there is no difference between a plant and an animal... Why do we not have "humanely" grown or "humanely" harvested veggies? Seems that if we were such a conscientious bunch - we'd want to ensure our "ethics"... all the way.

Furthermore --- If one REALLY cared about plant suffering - They'd eat the plants directly... Instead of fattening animals with them first. True?

Anonymous said...

Ok - I am simply in shock here.... how can killing anything against their will be called anything even remotely humane? These animals are still being trucked with no water or food to slaughterhouses, still being hung by one leg, kicking and screaming and yes, crying the entire time.... and people actually think this is still ok if they are fed decently before the murder? Please...just remember karma. The animals dying and suffering that you eat are in your soul. Human graveyard sound appropriate?

Chandelle said...

I can relate to this post. I recently shifted to include some animal foods in my diet after four years as a vegan. You can read about that here, if you're interested:

http://www.phytophiliac.com/2010/01/crisis-of-faith.html

Personally, I have few complaints about the vegan diet for me or my family. My kids are 3 and 5 and only recently began eating animal foods (eggs). They have always been healthy, and normal or advanced in development. Being vegan was very healing for me in a number of ways. My kids are excellent eaters, receiving several servings of vegetables a day, very adventurous. We ate few grains and very little soy, only whole, fermented forms of soy from a small, local, organic producer on a mixed-crop farm. So I think ours was an "ideal" vegan diet from many perspectives.

However, as my interest in local foodsheds grew, and especially as my partner and I became more committed to farming ourselves (when we can find the right land), we decided to include eggs from a friend's backyard chickens. (I don't believe in the claims of "free-range" or "cage-free" commercials eggs and refuse to buy them just as much as eggs from factory farms.) I'm finishing a degree in nutrition and learned that it can be difficult or impossible for children to convert beta-carotene into vitamin A. My daughter has a skin condition that can be addressed with vitamin A. Including eggs seems like good insurance there.

I also recently decided to add fermented cod liver oil to our diet to cover the bases of omega-3, vitamin D, and more vitamin A - all nutrients that CAN be found in a plant-based diet, with some effort. I appreciate the extra insurance, personally.

I'm doing my best to fulfill our nutritional needs with local, organic, ethical foods. Over time I became skeptical that a vegan diet could be satisfied without committing to the industrial food system. Such a system is incredible destructive of life at every level - from microbes to birds and small animals - regardless of whether plants or animals are being raised for food on that land. Although I still believe there's a difference between incidentally and intentionally ending life, I still hold as my ideal the minimizing of my complicity in the destruction. It makes sense to me to judiciously choose some animal foods if the industrial plant-based alternative is likely to cause more harm.

Our diet is still plant-based. We don't eat meat. We have no plans to eat meat. But I understand why someone would consciously choose to do so. I'm extremely judicious in my inclusion of animal foods, weighing countless factors, constantly assessing our needs, ethics, standards, and ideals. My philosophy in this area is ever-evolving with the bottom line of wishing to move symbiotically on the earth with the utmost respect for every life. It would be hard to overstate how much I love animals. I volunteer at a farm sanctuary and sitting with those goats or feeding the chickens fills my soul in a way that nothing else can touch. I struggle with my choices all the time, but I'm doing the best I can to live compassionately.

Thanks for this post; I can definitely relate.

Tina Volpe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bea Elliott said...

Anonymous brought up an interesting point about the animals being terrified when trucked... Even some humans are horrified to get in a car or on a plane. It's the disorientation that animals are so unnerved by. With all our cognitive abilities, coping with "fear" is traumatic... I can't imagine what it's like for a disoriented animal who has no faculty to assimilate the ordeal. Terror is the only word I can think of.

I also realize some facilities slaughter on site. While this may seem a reasonable solution - the flip side is that many animals spared the trucking, may still endure a prolonged and agonizing death. Since many who perform "the task" do so with inadequate equipment, in less than ideal conditions. Many also lack experience... Or have seen death so many times, little matters to them any more.

Even someone experienced, well equipped for a "quick and merciful death", have lamented that sometimes delivering the killing blow, just goes awry. That sometimes, things just go wrong! Some animals resist more than others... Some literally "fight" for their lives! And some for whatever reason, just take a long time to die - or rather "to bleed out"... Even the veteran butcher can and does miss his mark. It's not a science... and these are not machines. Just a twitch in the wrong direction can create a hell of a long goodbye. That's one of the reasons the turnover is so high in this profession. There's lots they have to learn to block out...

There's a saying: There's 2 kinds of people that work at killing animals. One is he who enjoys his job... The other one doesn't. Would you put either one in charge of ending an innocent life?

But knowing this, I'm certain many will choose to think that the slaughterman isn't negatively impacted... And that the animal on the plate lead a great life and had a peaceful death. It's all a matter of what we allow ourselves to believe. The disconnect from the possible truth allows us to continue doing what we do, and eating who we eat...

Today's food is complicated --- Factor in animals and it becomes rife with ramifications and responsibility... And choices.

Chandelle, your story is enlightening. Your path indeed is a gentle one. :)

jchesik said...

For those of you who want to call yourselves "compassionate" because you eat "humane meat" and "free-range".....stop living a lie! Just admit you like the taste of meat and you want to eat it, period. Stop trying to make yourselves feel better and put on a show for others. You know it's wrong....if you didn't, you wouldn't be going to so much trouble to justify your actions to others and to yourselves. Your hypocrites. There is NO humane meat...the animal still has to be murdered, stop using convoluted logic and sugar-coating the truth. Also PLEASE don't call yourselves vegetarians, that is such an insult to true vegeatarians and especially to the innocent animals your consuming!

Anonymous said...

If you aren't a vegetarian now, you never were.

Alan Buttle said...

You can philosohpise all you like: meat is still murder. The animals you're eating had their lives cut at a very young age because you like the taste of their flesh, and that's disgusting whether or not they have lived in a factory farm or in an outside farm.

Animals are no more property of human beings as blacks are property of whites and women are property of men. Animals are not ours to use for our own selfish desires.

I am a vegan because I care about animals and do not see humans as a superior species that deserves to exploit whichever other species any way we want. Many humans think they have the God-given right to tear up the world, pollute and destroy habitats of al sorts of species (many of which have been on the planet for a hell of a lot more time than humans have been), torture, farm and kill every other living thing. This is why humans are the most destructive species on the planet and the species that, if we became extinct, would benefit every other species on Earth. You can not say this about any other species.

The bottom line is everyone can live vegan and all the nutrients that we need can be obtained better and healthier through vegan food. Meat, dairy, eggs, etc. is unnecessary torture and murder. People who really care about animals live vegan.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

A big thank you to those of you who were thoughtful and kind in your comments on both sides of the argument. A couple final thoughts:

Some of the comments have me worried that people are reading this as a justification to eat as much meat as they want as long as it's ethically raised. That's not a sustainable belief. Americans eat too much meat, and anyone's first step should be cutting back on meat consumption.

To the vegetarians and vegans that left rude and hurtful comments, I would simply ask, do you really think that's an effective strategy for converting people to your cause. Non-vegetarians will read those comments and conclude that vegetarians are extremist who resort to name calling. Perhaps a better strategy would have been to thoughtfully refute some of the points I made in the post about why I started eating meat again.

Olivia said...

Erin - I completely agree with your final comment. It is appalling to see how people who are so aggrieved about harming animals seem to have no qualms at all about the damage they may cause others by saying nasty and hurtful things. If we cannot respect others' opinions and choices then what sort of world do we have?

Maren Hansen said...

Excellent, Erin, and I can see that I'm not in minority of people that have had to give up being strict vegetarians for childbearing reasons. Another problem for me has been that I've done major running at times that has also led to low-iron anemia for me. (i.e., I was running 20+ miles/week as well as nursing or recovering from nursing/pregnancy). So for many years, the best I've been able to do is eat meat sparingly. But Derek is pretty strictly vegetarian, and it's been interesting to see him feel the need to eat meat on occasion (we feel like if your body is truly craving meat, it likely signals dietary need)). Most of our kids only like fish, and I feel good about that--fish is SO much better than most other meats, esp with high cholesterol running in the family. Thanks for a well-thought out and concise post. Also, thanks for posting something that others may see as a betrayal--I hope all these comments help you realize that you are not alone in your dietary path. Like you, I find that people that are vegetarian or mostly so eat FAR better than those that aren't. So kudos to you for keeping the primary goal of good health and good stewardship in mind. Miss you guys... :)

den said...

I have been a vegan for 22 years. My son was born a vegan and is now 16. I was a hunt saboteur for 17 years running about all day, 3 days a week and I never felt the urge to eat meat!
We are very healthy and my son is exceptionally clever, (he is possibly going into medicine).
I get sick of hippy middle class types being so sanctimonious. If you eat meat, you are supporting an act of violence. Don't try and kid yourself that you are kind or compassionate because you buy free range, the animal still dies the same way: terrified.

jchesik said...

As for my strategy for converting meat eaters... I actually don't use the same tone with full-blown meateaters. I consider those who have always eaten meat to simply be ignorant of the facts, therefore It's my job to educate them. However, people who have been vegetarian/vegan and found ways to justify returning to eating animal flesh, that's a different ballgame. If you made it work for 12 years, then clearly there was no justifiable reason to go back to flesh eating. I have seen this happen before because of the pressure of a spouse. My own cousin who was veg married a meat eater. Of course initially he did the veg thing for her, but it wasn't really in his heart so as the marriage progressed fish came back into the diet, and then turkey just on thanksgiving...etc. How romantic to compromise a core value for hubby.
So while I may have hurt someone's little feelings on a blog page, YOU are condoning the murder of animals, there's no comparison.
Keep patting each other on the back because you "only eat a little bit of meat" therefore your only murdering a few animals.

Furthermore, I'm only capable of hurting your feeling If you already feel bad about what your doing.

jchesik said...

Erin, I'd like to add one more comment.
You should have kept your return to meateating to yourself. By posting this, all you've accomplished is helping others to feel good about their own meat eating, and I have news for you, most of them won't be buying the so called "humane meat" that you do but will be buying meat that came from factory farms.
Good job!!

Jenn the Greenmom said...

(Okay, wow...Erin, are you holding up okay?)

Some interesting points have come up in all of this...a significant number of vegans have popped on here saying, "I have been a vegan forever and never found a need or even a desire for meat, that proves all people can be fully healthy without meat."

Then another significant group have also spoken up, saying in effect, "I tried being a vegetarian, giving up all meat, and I was unhealthy and felt like crap." (Into which group I also fall, by the way...I was only a vegetarian for about 8 months, and for about the last two of those I just felt really weak and unwell...I had one meal with a small amount of meat and literally overnight felt normal again. It was really bizarre; it was the first time I'd ever considered that there was something in meat my body might actually need.) (And yes, I was a careful vegetarian, so it wasn't that I wasn't doing it right.) We currently subsist on the "meat as condiment" approach--we don't eat much, and we only eat it a couple of days a week, if that, usually as a small part of another dish.

I wonder if anyone's done any studies around whether or not some people do or do not thrive on animal protein, or can or cannot thrive without? If there might literally be something physiological about it? My husband has this goofy book that ties this to blood type, and I personally don't think it holds much academic water, but...it's not a stupid question. Instead of assuming All People Need The Same Foods To Thrive, I wonder if there's a way to look at alternative needs, whether biological, cultural (short-term evolutionary, if it makes sense--just meaning that certain traits will get strengthened and passed on within certain interlinked groups of people), stuff like that...

Just thinking out loud now. Anyone ever heard of any such study? (Please, dear vegans, do not respond with variations on the initial argument...)

Thanks, Erin, for bringing up the topic--measured and open conversations about this kind of thing are really important.
--Jenn

Cherie said...

Erin - great post. While I am a vegetarian, I respect the choice to eat meat. My husband is a meat eater but he has chosen to do what you do - only eat humanely raised meat. In our case, we have a farm and he actually raises the animals and ensures that they have peaceful lives and are humanely slaughtered. Thanks for sharing your journey and beliefs.

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Jenn - Strangely enough, it hasn't affected me as much as negative comments I've gotten in the past. Maybe because I was expecting it this time, and other times I accidentally said something that offended someone. Or maybe it's just that I'm feeling pretty confident in this decision. Plus, a cousin of mine told me on Facebook that she was really grateful for this post, so that was nice. And my super awesome friend Maren also left a nice comment.

I completely agree with your comment that maybe just maybe not everyone needs the same foods to thrive. I've often wondered if there's an ethnic factor, though here in the U.S where ethnicities are so mixed, I think it would be hard to study. I also wonder if there's a gender difference - it seems like men generally crave meat more than women do, and I've definitely known more vegetarian women than men. Interesting points to bring up!

Erin aka Conscious Shopper said...

@Cherie - Thanks! You were one of the readers that I was worried about offending since I know you're a vegetarian. I really appreciate your supportive words.

Amy said...

Wow! Such vitriol from compassionate people.

Aren't we all blessed to have enough food available to be able to pick and choose what we eat?

It's really difficult to have sustainable crop production without some sort of animal component. I suppose those who were morally/ethically against the killing of animals should make sure their food wasn't produced with compost containing manure or fish products. It would pretty much rule out organic foods. It's a complicated issue- we all must choose, knowingly or not, at what point in the food chain (or other production cycle) something must die or suffer for our own survival.

Bea Elliott said...

@Jenn the Greenmom - Hi... You asked about a "study". I have a few responses - the first is the American Dietetic Association: "It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes."
http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8357

Secondly - Since veganism was defined by Donald Watson in the early forties, we could say that a total "plant based diet" is relatively new. And because there was such a small number of vegans until just recently... there has been little "history" to conduct an accurate "study".

And lastly, consider the opposition to such a study. I recall reading somewhere that there are over 8,000 lobbyists representing the meat and dairy industries. The meat industry is a $165,000 billion dollar business... Imagine trying to "go up" against that kind of influence and power? Generally fresh fruits and vegetables have no "name brand"... There is no corporation with the kind of funding it would take to "prove" that broccoli, carrots, beans etc. are better than: Tyson, Smithfield, McDonalds, etc. And being that cattle, pig and chicken parts are used by the government as political and economic leverage with other countries... The resistance to any "study" conducted by them, is obvious.

With all these factors in consideration - I think it's quite amazing that veganism has landed itself in the public and cultural eye after all... Goes to show - that word of mouth, from those like me - who have had convincing success stories - have been able to propel the idea to mainstream. 3 - 5 years ago most people didn't even know what a vegan was... And well, now it seems there's all sorts of shallow excuses one must make, to not be one! :)

@Cherie - I do hope you will read my comment about "ensuring" humane slaughter. Really, there are NO guarantees to this. Any honest slaughter man will confess that, no matter what the intent... sometimes things go very bad for the animal during the process.

@Amy - More so than being "blessed" to have such abundance to ponder what or rather who we put into our stomachs; I believe we are blessed with the wherewithal that enables us to contemplate the pros and cons of those choices.

And many times those choices are slim to none. I can't imagine the limited options Leonardo de Vinci... Or Tolstoy... Or Albert Schweitzer had. Of course we all don't aspire to be these figures. But I know myself, and have heard many vegans say that at certain times, they had to refrain from eating at "the bounty" because everything had (some) extinguished animal-life it it... And to paraphrase J Foer, when he retells the story in his book Eating Animals; His Orthodox Jewish grandmother declined "ham" during her struggle of survival during the Nazi occupation; She did so because "If nothing matters, there's nothing left to save". But clearly... some eat to live - while others live to eat...

Finally, there are a few who would call the vegan responses "rude"... I would only ask you to see from the other side --- How frustrating it is to read and hear the words - "humane meat". Try as some might to make it so... the choice to take an innocent life without "cause" - can never be considered kind.

Anonymous said...

I know I'm late to the game, but I feel the premise of die-hard vegetarianism is Euro-centric and privileged. While I do personally believe that with a well balanced vegetarian diet any human being could survive - this just isn't possible for all human life. It's possible for those of us who live privileged lives in the industrial world. What can you say to someone who lives in the Sahara desert? Or parts of Alaska or Canada where it is deep winter most of the year? What will happen if (or when) civilization fails and there are no stores, no trucks, and the weather has destroyed all crops? That's even supposing that people will be staying in one place long enough to grow and plant crops. There are places in the world like that today. Where the only food is to kill (humanely or not) the family goat. Places where if you don't kill the family goat to eat, then another starved predator might come along and kill and eat it. Is that better than a human killing it to eat it? Some people might think so and that's fine, but that is why for most of the time people have been on this earth, they have eaten the way Michael Pollan describes: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." You ate meat when you HAD to. Which is why, if the world does get to this sad place, a lot of die hard vegetarians will be forced to make a decision. Most people outside the industrialized world today don't even have that choice.

Chandelle said...

As a vegan, I was always very aware that I was incredibly privileged to be so picky and conscious of my eating habits, and I tried to never take that for granted. I tend to be on Derrick Jensen's side when it comes to industrial civilization. So even as I've tried to be as ethical as I can with the choices *currently* available to me, I've also been aware that things might (almost certainly) (hopefully) will change dramatically in the future, and I need to be prepared for that. It's never been squeamishness about killing that's stopped me from eating meat, and that's not what's stopping me now. It's about not wanting to destroy an animal's life unnecessarily, and right now, it's obviously not necessary for me. That might change in the future, but I can only work with what I've got right now. Make sense?

Anonymous, your comment made me think of the first season of LOST (I'm sure everyone here is too cool to watch it :), where Kate says she doesn't want any of the boar they caught on the island after their plane crashed because she's a vegetarian. Even though I'm a vegetarian, too, I snorted at that, saying out loud, "That's gonna change pretty soon, sweetheart." We all just work with what we have.

Anonymous said...

Chandelle, I'm where you are. I don't eat meat right now, so my comment wasn't anti-vegetarian (I know you didn't take it that way) But I definitely think things are going to change, and sometimes I can't get over how incredibly privileged WE ALL ARE in this society and that we forget others aren't. I'm lucky in that I have extended family who hail from very un-industrialized countries, and to them, the whole vegetarian thing is not only a mystery, but, well, a joke. Because, you know, they'd starve otherwise. And you're so right, we do all just work with what we have, and more importantly,most of real life is shades of gray, not black and white.

Bea Elliott said...

I did catch the episode of Lost though... My first impulse, in the same situation would be to find and eat the food the pig was living on...

So definately if we were on an island... Or we were Inuits, or bushmen - Things would be a lot different... I try to assume though, that since we are communicating over the internet, that most of those scenarios don't apply. I've lived in the "boonies" and had to stock up on "staples" --- Nothing keeps without electricity like beans and rice! :)

Marisa May said...

Thanks for your insights. I don't eat a lot of meat, but I need to think more carefully about where I'm getting my meat from.

Tigerlily said...

Now I didn't read all the previous comments but I wonder has anyone thought about hunted meat? Yes the animal is still killed or murdered however you would like to label it. It does however take out the fear portion. This way the animal is organic, extremely free range and was able to lead a good life in the wild. In many cases being shot is a very humane death compared to the slow starvation that would occur the winter months. [This case is in reference to deer specifically as in many areas they are over populated and there isn't enough food to sustain that population over the winter.]

Again I understand that some hunters do not hunt in an ethical manner. My father however always told me he'd been taught never to take a shot unless you know you can down the deer in one shot.

This is just another idea to sustainable meat eating.

Bea Elliott said...

Hi Tigerlily... Actually if you Google "deer farms" or go to The North American Deer Farming Association
http://www.nadefa.org/images/stories/cervid-report.pdf

On page 7 there is a map showing more than 1500 deer and cervid farms in the US. This map is from 2007 - So I can only assume there are more of these farms now.

These facilities operate much like "factory farms"... Deer semen is collected - Genes and hormones are manipulated to create animals with desired "qualities". There is the artificial insemination... Fawns are removed from their mothers and bottle fed.

These animals are also kept on antibiotics... and growth hormones. When the fawns reach mating age they are kept either as breeding stock or are released as "game".

Now... These deer are almost "tame". They've known little of the wild as they were kept in confinement all their lives. I don't know that this is such a great alternative to "sustainable" or "humane" meat. Automobile/deer accidents increase during hunting season - Disoriented deer increase safety hazards. And health wise...there are also issues with CWD - Cronic Wasting Disease. Possible lead poisoning from bullets - the spread of ticks, etc...

Many areas also allow for bow hunting --- So if bad shots with a rifle aren't enough of a put off, surely a slow death from a blow with an arrow might be. (?) Death from an arrow they say is one of the most painful ways to go... It can take days for the suffering to end.

Whether by bow or gun, in Wisconsin alone there were 68,000 wounded deer that were never recovered... Add numbers in from the rest of the nation and we can see this is a brutality that most would not condone... Surely there's a better way?

This uncovers some of the myth regarding deer "overpopulation"... If we were overpopulated --- Then why on earth are we breeding more? Ah yes, the money and the toleration of those who want the thrill of the kill.

Indeed most of the "wild" game hunters "enjoy" come from breeding compounds - pheasants, ducks, geese, grouse, quail, deer, elk and so forth...

Another part of the puzzle with deer management is in what is called "Compensatory Rebound Effect". Once the herd is "culled" - There is less competition for food - Deer respond by mating earlier and having twins more often to "take advantage" of the bounty... The deer are just following what they perceive as "nature's plan": more food, less of "us"... make more babies. So killing deer to "control deer" becomes a vicious, (but profitable)cycle.

And speaking of profits - That's one of the main reasons why non-lethal measures haven't been investigated in earnest. There's just nothing to be gained (for hunting humans) - to control the populations without killing them.

And finally - yes, they grow crops to attract deer... I just wonder how much better we would be if we grew crops to feed humans instead.

That's my piece - I don't think deer eating is a viable, option either.

Karen Moser-Booth said...

Kudos to you, Erin, for writing this post. Food is a subject that I've found people are almost always defensive about--be they meat-eaters, vegetarians, or whatever. I think the tradition of food as a social event has something to do with how fiercely people act and feel about it. I can understand why you'd be concerned about posting this.

I read most of the comments, but not all. Returning to your original post and a few comments about "flexitarian": I admire the way Barbara Kingsolver's daughter approached defining herself as a vegetarian. She said, in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, that she "only ate humanely-raised meat sparingly." It seems an appropriate way to handle questions about her food choices--she is spreading the word about the availability of humanely-raised meat (regardless of whether vegetarians believe that is possible). You commented later that you want to spread the word about vegetarianism, not flexitarianism, but I would consider the fact that most people are aware of vegetarianism. The general public, however, is *not* aware that there are humanely-raised meat options. You would be introducing a new sustainable choice to more people this way. It would also force folks to consider eating less meat--a key to global sustainability. I imagine meat-eating folks would feel more comfortable thinking and talking about Meatless Mondays than about total vegetarian converisons with someone who also eats meat on occasion. Something to consider.

(For the record, I'm a vegetarian.)

Bea Elliott said...

Hi Karen - I beg to differ: "... but would consider the fact that most people are aware of vegetarianism. The general public, however, is *not* aware that there are humanely-raised meat options."

Most people indeed are under the assumption that animals go either (willingly) or peacefully to their death: The enactment of the 1958"Humane Slaughter Act", had every intention of proposing and "ensuring" this myth.

Through the years, I'm still amazed at how many people still think animals are "put to sleep" first... I guess you know what you want to know. (?)

But about vegetarianism, or more specifically veganism... Most in our western culture consider this "fringe" and the choice requiring all sorts of "supplements" and artificial nourishment --- Of course the more affluent we become - we begin to realize this just isn't so...

I have no problem with people approaching a plant based diet via meat "reduction" in their diets... But advocating "happy meat" just seems to allow people to avoid the step towards end goal of reduction/elimination.

At least in personal experience - it's been this way...

Tigerlily said...

I want to clarify that I was not talking about farmed dear. Clearly farmed dear would have the same issues as farmed beef. I was thinking about small hunt clubs (10-20 men) who go into the forest and shoot 3 dear during the 2 week season and split the meat between them. These dear do not come from farms, at least not in my area, which is North Ontario, Canada.

You are right dear do cause traffic accidents and in some cases the deaths of humans. This is not due to disorientation based on fear, but the fact that the dear are rutting, mating. The males are wild to find females, who are attempting to mate only with the best males. These accidents continue through the winter as the going is tough.

Increased dear population also increases tick populations that can bring humans in contact with lime disease. I don't promote dear cull. But I do value traditional culture and the organic nature of hunting for food. I don't believe hunters should fire unless they can ensure a kill and should something go amiss the dear should be tracked and "put out of its misery" as soon as possible. The idea of so many unretrieved dear is horrific to me, and a sign that the hunt is not being undertaken with the respect I think it demands.

Again I think everyone needs to do as they find best. Education and discussion is good in all forms but I don't feel it is necessary to shame people who eat meat once or twice a week (as I do) regardless of where it comes from. An attempt to cut down on meat should be applauded in a society that considers regular cheap large portions of meat a right.

Bea Elliott said...

Hello again Tigerlily... Oh, I'm glad I was able to read further than your first sentence... When I saw "I want to clarify that I was not talking about farmed "dear".... I thought you were being snarky with me... Calling me "dear".

In any case - Yes, I was including the small gang of 10-20 guys who hunt together too... In your case of Ontario - it is no different than the U.S. Cervids are considered secondary livestock. Fallow deer, red deer, white-tail deer, elk, etc. are bred up there just like in the lower 48.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs Deer and Elk website. Here you will find a wealth of information relevant to Ontario's Deer and Elk industry. http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/alternat/deerelk.htm

The Ontario Deer & Elk Farmers Association
http://www.ontariodeerelkfarmers.com/

And even if these animals were only raised on these farms and intended for "harvesting" for meat (and not "sport") many escape despite the required high fences to confine them. Also - Even though they might be bred for meat they may be transported for "sport" to a secondary location.

I often find it perplexing that when it comes to transporting these animals as a method of population control, officials and experts say it is unwise or (illegal). Yet, if done for profit... Well --- You get my drift.

About deer causing accidents due to rutting and mating rather than disorientation, there's much controversy in the studies I've seen. Some have shown statistically that accident numbers increase on the weekends and holidays... Which wouldn't make much sense regarding the first theory... But would apply if the the guns and disturbance in the woods spooked the deer more than usual. Besides, there are alternatives that could keep motorists safe from deer such as reflectors, high fencing, barricades, scent repellants, etc. But then again the cost of saving lives does not compare with to the revenue the "sport" generates.

And there are effective ways to control ticks as well:
http://www.aldf.com/fourPoster2.shtml
Interesting to note about Lymes Disease - The AVMA has put out a special warning to hunters as they and their dogs are in high risk of being in contact with ticks and often transport ticks into urban areas:
http://www.avma.org/public_health/zoonotic_risks/hunters_precautions.asp

And as far as tradition goes... Not all traditions are worthy of admiration and respect. Tradition should never be an excuse for cruelty, and surely harmful practices should not be condoned just because they are cultural practices. If there is a genuine "need" for food... Of course no one would say there was intentional cruelty... But since it's obvious we are breeding these animals just to be hunted - And since the "culling" only perpetuates a cycle of over-breeding, it just seems we are justifying the cruelty of the "sport" rather than seeking to abolish the "problem".

It was never my intention to "shame" people, but to express my POV. I think I've defended my position as best I can and offer an olive branch in parting - I totally agree: "An attempt to cut down on meat should be applauded in a society that considers regular cheap large portions of meat a right." But I do think the end goal should be headed towards elimination entirely.

Nice meeting you.

Tigerlily said...

Thank you for reading past my unfortunately typo. I'm usually more careful then that.

I think we may have to agree to disagree on some matters although I do agree with many of your points.

Thanks for the information, clearly you have throughly researched this topic.

I don't think we need to cut meat out entirely but the way we include meat in our diet desperately needs to be adjusted. Out connection to the food we eat is sterile. People don't pay attention to where or how our food gets from a farm to the plastic wrapped packages in the grocers freeze (meat or vegetable) and in some cases I think they prefer not to think about it.

Every step helps and the more people know the better I think.

Becca said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I've been struggling with this for a while. My hubby and kids never signed up to be vegetarian and I've noticed I don't cook any meat these days. Your post has helped me feel at peace with my decision to start eating meat again. Thank you!

Becca said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I've been struggling with this for a while. My hubby and kids never signed up to be vegetarian and I've noticed I don't cook any meat these days. Your post has helped me feel at peace with my decision to start eating meat again. Thank you!

Ophelia77 said...

I think that what it comes down to is people have to make decisions about what they eat based on their own personal choice.
I have been veggie for 5 years, and I live in a not-so veggie friendly place (Texas). I think it just depends on the reason why someone became a vegatarian to begin with, and over time the reasons change. I became a vegatarian because I read Peter Singer, so at first it was ethical. But I have stayed veggie more because of the health benefits. I remember the day I was eating chicken and thought to myself, I can't do this anymore.
I think that our society has not given respect to animals, and have treated them like they are not alive, and this is why I stopped eating meat. The meat industry is what disgusted me. However, I can see how eating meat from local farms would be appealing becasue you would be supporting those who are treating animals well. (and people will debate about that, because in the end, people are still killing the animal to eat it). It's up to each individual person to drawn their own boundaries.
Thank you for such a great conversation on this topic!

Britgirl said...

Thank you for your article. After 23 years of not eating meat I made the choice a month ago to start. Some of the reasons are different but some are the same as yours.
Its something I am having a struggle with still yet I think I did the right thing.
Its nice to see Im not alone!

Anonymous said...

Am I the only person who read this

'Also, to those who speak of "humane slaughter," please do your research. I don't want to have to humanely slaughter -without need- your friends, family, and pets to prove my point).'

as a threat?!

I have been a vegetarian for six years however due to pregnancy am finding I really need to eat meat again... however the only meat I will eat are either ones I catch myself (fish) and chickens from a friends farm. The animals are raised lovingly and humanely and killed very quickly . It's not perfect but it's the best I can do for now.

Anonymous said...

I have only been Vegan for 1 year and have been thinking it isn't necessarily the best health option out there. I tend to eat way too many carbs and end up gaining weight and sometimes not feeling so well. I am like you, not an animal activist (I do really really love them), but do feel that God has given us Stewardship of the land and trusted us with it...we have failed miserably and that is sad. Enough said on that subject. I started thinking about eating meat again after I added dairy to my diet, as my choices for food were running out. Allergic to soy and corn, grains make me feel awful, gluten sensitive....well you get the picture. Tim Ferris of the 4-hr body made a good point when he said that vegetarians may appear healthier because well...they eat more vegetables and not necessarily that they don't eat meat! I just need to figure out how fast or slow to integrate it back into my diet. Thanks for the blog, it helped!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. I've been a vegan for the past 5 years, and after a long steady decline have been diagnosed with some health problems. My dr (a naturopath, and a yogi!) is adamant that I need animal protein. I've been heartbroken all week, I cried in the meat aisle at the grocery store earlier. I know I'll face the judgement of other vegetarians/vegans who think I should be able to make it work without, but the reality is everyone's body is different, and it's hard enough to strike a balance without tearing each other down.

Anonymous said...

I became a vegetarian about 6 months ago because, I agree with you, the way animals are raised today is unacceptable. For the sake of consistency, I decided not to selectively choose cruelty-free meat, eggs, cheese, etc. Also, there's your point about it being pretty awkward to explain eating just ethically raised meat!I was interested why some people do start eating meat after so many years, and your article definitely answered my question! Great article, very well-written, thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I think this post is beautiful :) I have also been a vegetarian for the last 10+ years and have made the decision to add meat into my diet a couple times a week. Now when people ask me if I'm a vegetarian or a vegan, instead I say "I'm a conscious eater!" Meaning, I think about the food I'm buying and where it comes from. I agree with you that the real issues stem from factory farming and the over production of animals as commodities but there are definate solutions to that. Thank you for this post and having the courage to write it :)

Leigh said...

I got here by following links and have to say this is a fantastic post. I can so relate to almost all the reasons, but have to add reading Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions to my list of "why I eat meat." We're fortunate enough to be able to grow most of our own meat, so we know it's healthy and the animals were treated compassionately.

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