Every time I tell someone I’m a vegetarian, the questions roll in like rainclouds in Vancouver. “What? I could have sworn you used to eat meat!” “But how do you live without bacon?” “Well, can you still eat, like, um, fish?” “Can I still eat chicken in front of you?” “So you only eat vegetables, right?” “What’s wrong with meat?” And my all time favourite: “Why on earth would you want to be a vegetarian?” A while back I stumbled across a tumblr that addressed all of these questions, expressing the exasperation a vegetarian feels once he or she (lets face it, probably she) has heard these questions many, many times. But I am not one of those vegetarians. I am not easily offended or exasperated, on the contrary, I welcome these questions! Especially the one about why I became a vegetarian in the first place. Whenever I’m asked this question, my first response is, “how much time do you have? Because I could talk for a week if you’ll let me.” There are so many reasons, good reasons in fact, to be a vegetarian. My personal reasons however, are relatively simple.
- Health- Not because of the health benefits of eating veggie, but because of the health risks of doing otherwise. These days it is hard to find meat that hasn’t been pumped full of chemicals, eating veggie helps to eliminate meat that contains known neurotoxins and carcinogens from my diet. Also, there is evidence that all cows, sheep and buffalo should be exclusively grass-fed. A slightly less desirable scenario features grain-fed, grass-finished livestock. Unfortunately most livestock is corn-fed and grain-finished. This is not only completely unnatural, but also raises the fat content of the meat while decreasing the nutritional value.
- Animal Cruelty- I don’t believe that any creature should be forced to live a life that is unnatural for its kind. While domesticated livestock are certainly very different from their wild relatives, I believe that they should be able to roam through roomy enclosures, spend time out of doors, and live relatively pain-free lives.
- Finance- Ultimately, I have no moral or health issues with eating meat. Provided, of course, that the meat is free-range, organic, and fed according to its needs. (Chickens and Turkeys eat corn, Cows and sheep eat grass, Pigs eat organic, uncooked, veggie based slop) This meat exists! It’s a great alternative to eating the unhealthy, unethical meat that is most common these days, but with one little snag. It costs an arm and a leg, or something near that. As a student, the cost isn’t viable. Thus veggie is the way to go.
And so if you’ve ever wondered, those are my reasons for eating veggie. Also, they happen to be a lot of people’s reasons for becoming vegetarian. If I haven’t persuaded you that it’s worthwhile, don’t worry, that was never my goal. I’m not here to convict you of a crime or convince you that you should work harder to be healthy. I’ve made my decision and will leave you to make your own.
* A note about what it means to be Flexi-Veggie (see title). I still live at home, and my mother is allergic to nuts, lentils, and soy. Most of my protein options are therefore, unavailable. I am flexible at home, and eat some meat (my family buys organic chicken). However, I do not eat beef under any circumstances. If I am visiting a friend, I’m not one to complain about having to eat meet. I’m not the kind of vegetarian who rejects a meal someone worked hard to make because of my personal choices. On a similar note, the strictness with which I follow my diet depends on where I am. While in the states, I eat ovo-lacto-veggie (no meat, no dairy, no eggs), while traveling in Europe, Asia and Africa, I am more likely to forgo veggie food and eat meat.