Thursday, January 24, 2008

Why I'm vegetarian

Since the time I started blogging, I mentioned several times that I'm a vegetarian; I've been one for 12 years now, in fact. And each time, someone asked me, "why?" – so I finally decided to sit down and try to write a decent and well-rounded answer.

Because of health reasons

You should know that in the meat industry, like everywhere else, the owners are interested to have as much production in as little time as possible. Cattle and poultry are given unhealthy food that makes the quality of the meat deteriorate. And not just that, but unless you're buying organic, your meat probably contains hormones as well, which are given to animals in order to stimulate growth. That's right – hormones. Many people are concerned because of phytoestrogens in soy, but in my opinion, the hormonal additives to meat are much more dangerous.

Because of the environment

Numerous studies have proved that reducing meat consumption would allow us to reduce waste, and would make us able to use the earth's resources to feed more people who are currently starving. I know this is debatable, but it's definitely food for thought.

Because of frugality

Meat, especially good quality meat, isn't cheap. It usually eats up (no pun intended) a big part of the family grocery budget. Pick up any frugal cookbook, and it will suggest ways to 'stretch' meat, or cut down on meat consumption in other ways. To save money, even the carnivores in our family eat meat only once or twice a week.

Because of how animals are treated

God allows us to slaughter animals and eat meat, but He clearly and explicitly forbids cruel treatment of animals. This doesn't mean that animals are equal to human beings, but their suffering definitely isn't something we are allowed to ignore. Truly, I can't imagine our kind, gentle, merciful and loving God not frowning upon cruel treatment of animals. Let's have a look…

Exodus 23:4-5: "If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him."

Exodus 23:12: "Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed" (emphasis mine).

Deuteronomy 22:10 - "Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together."

Proverbs 12:10 - "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel."

How animals are typically treated in today's meat industry? Often they are unable to even move freely, or breathe fresh air. Again, it's all about reducing costs while producing as much meat as possible.

In my current situation, I'm unable to afford free-range meat, and thus I'm choosing not to eat meat at all, rather than support this cruel industry. I eat well, I'm healthy and I don't feel deprived because of this slight alteration in my menu.

30 comments:

andrea said...

Those are all the reasons I am vegetarian too! I'm completely for the humane treatment of animals--not extreme animal rights, but for decent, natural treatment of God's creatures and this world. I haven't been vegetarian as long as you have, but I plan on being one for the rest of my life :)

Julia said...

Me too. All those reasons, and it's been so long that the thought of eating it is icky to me anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anna,

It's so interesting to hear your reasons behind being a vegetarian! I myself am a shameless carnivore :) but I do eat free range and organic meat. I just don't think it's especially healthy to pump animals (or vegetables, for that matter) full of growth hormones and the like.

In fact, I have a brother who is allergic to any poultry that is NOT organic. Turns out, the chemicals that farmers put into their poultry's food causes my brother to have a very dangerous, life-threatening reaction.

I SO enjoy your posts! :)

Rebekah S. said...

Thanks so much for this post, Anna! I had never asked, but I as well, was curious as to all of the reasons why you're vegan.

Isn't simply disgusting to thing that they put hormones in the meat?! That's why we buy all-natural(no hormones, etc. etc.) as often as possible. It does at times get expensive, but it can actually at times be an even better deal than the yucky meat with all the hormones. :) Truly, the meat industry is filled with selfishness, in my opinion. They only care about how much money they can make from their huge production, not even bothering to think about what the hormones, etc., can do to the people who eat that meat.

God said after the Flood that He now gave us the meat for food. So, clearly, as you said, it's not a sin to eat meat. But we need to do so Biblically. And if all the meat available to us is hormone filled, etc., then we need to msybe abstain(or at least not eat quite as much), because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and we're to care for it as such. Also, we're not to eat the blood with the meat, yet a lot of the meat production companies package the meat with all that blood still in there. Of course, that's not a huge problem, because it can easily be cooked out before serving.

I, too, am very sensitive and can't stand to think of animals or people suffering. I'm not to the extent of the crazy PETA(peple for the ethical treatment of animals)) people, who think that animals are equal in worth to, if not even worth more than humans. But, I do believe that the meat production companies should care for and slaughter their animals in a more godly and kinder way!

I will tell you one thing-if I had to kill all my meat or else be vegan, I would be vegan! I simply cannot kill things like that, and I wouldn't even be able to stomach the thought of cleaning it, etc.! I get queasy at that kind of thing. lol

I was wondering, though, Anna, how you receive necessary protein amounts, etc. What supplements do you take? Because I know that protein is very very important for our bodies, but I wasn't sure what all vegetarians take for that need.

Thanks again for this post, and I'm sorry for my ramblings. :):)

Blessings,
Rebekah

Green Eyes said...

It's nice to see all of your reasons -- I was always curious. :)

We are omnivores, but (for all of the reasons you listed) we eat much less meat than anyone we know. We're getting chickens this year, too, so we don't have to buy eggs, either. Laying hens aren't treated much better than meat-producers, even the "organic" and "cage free" ones, at least in the US. Plus, true free range eggs taste far better and are healthier. :D

Gothelittle Rose said...

Likewise I think those are very good reasons. My husband and I are carnivores, but I stretch meat in recipes.

We have two good sources of meat in my area. The first is by giving a hunter permission to hunt on your land. It'll net you a decent amount of wild-animal venison as a courtesy gift. The second is through my uncle and those like him, who raise sheep. You can pick out a lamb and have it slaughtered and packaged for your convenience when it's old enough. Both of these options are either free or comparable to supermarket meat.

Of course, that's where it helps to live in a rural area. When I can, I get my fruits and veggies from farmer's markets or from pick-your-own places rather than from the supermarket. That's something many city dwellers just can't easily do...

On the other hand, these tricks practically require a separate freezer unit, which we are getting replaced today. :)

Anna S said...

Bekah, you can get all the protein you need and more from eggs, milk, cheese, beans and grains. Even vegans can easily get all the protein they need. I assure you that most of the people you know eat much more protein than is recommended!

Calamity Jean said...

I couldn't agree with you more! My Grandparents were Ranchers and I spent my summers working cattle with them. While I don't agree with the treatment of the cattle once they get to the stockyards I can say that my grandfather treated each and every animal with love.

But because of my knowledge of the industry I only eat hormone free/range fed meat.

I recently started seeing a nutritionist and last week we discussed the best diet for my type of endocrine system. I should eat very little meat and animal by products. So, I am starting to add more vegatarian recipes into my menu. Anna, I would love to see some of your vegetarian recipes! I need some tasty ideas.

AnneK said...

All excellent reasons. Do you eat fish though? I agree with you on the meat. I myself eat meat very very rarely, (I don't cook it home even) but I love fish and I think fish is good for you. All the Omega 3 and everything. What is your opinion on that?

Melusine (aka Mermade) said...

Thank you for this post, Anna. I always wondered why you were a vegetarian and was curious to hear your thoughts about it. I am actually considering giving up red meat, because it is especially unhealthful and I am bothered by a lot about what I've heard about how the cattle industry is one of the most inefficiant food sources. I also recently watched a couple of PETA videos and was bothered by the HORRIBLE treatment of animals occurring all over the world. At the same time, it would be extremely difficult for me to give up meat since I grew up with it and my family eats it nearly everyday, but I am thinking about it.

Thanks again for your thoughtful post.

Susie said...

Anna,
How would a vegan overcome B vitamin insuffiency, other than with supplements? Do you know of any plant based sources (if there is any)? Also, what is your stance on fish?

I do eat meat, but I try to limit the amount because my digestive system takes what seems like forever to digest meat (and causes pain). I tried going vegetarian as a teen, but I wasn't getting enough protein. Now I'll eat meat in light moderation...

Ann said...

Hi Anna,

While I can understand your personal reasons, I just had to write and speak up for farmers. I grew up on a family farm in a predominantly farming community, and I don't know anyone who could take better care of their animals than the farmers I know. I know that this isn't true in all situations, but I just didn't want people to think that all farmers are cruel. Having some understanding of the industry has shown me that in most cases, farmers love their animals and love what they do - that's why they're farmers. And healthy, happy animals are what most farmers I know strive for. Just wanted to add my two cents!

Kristy Howard said...

I agree with you on the poor treatment of animals in the meat industry, and certainly on the bad health effects of eating hormone-ridden meat. My husband raises or hunts all our own meat, that way we know it is fresh and healthy.

Most families could do without as much meat as they consume and could stand quite a bit more veggies in their diet!

Kelly said...

Great post Anna. In my family we switched to very little meat once my daughter started eating table food. Mostly to be good examples to her and to cut down on fat. I can say that since we switched to organic/range free/no hormone meat we feel so much healthier. And since it is so expensive we eat it less, much less. I don't know if we'll ever switch to completely vegitarian. In the northeast of the U.S. veggies are incredibly expensive in the winter. (Thank God for pasta dishes and frozen veggies.) But it is really so much better for you to cut out the meat as much as you can. I've lost nearly 20 pounds in the last year because of it. And my daughter is used to snacking from the veggie tray at every meal.

Rebekah S. said...

Anna,

Thank you so much for your helpful reply! :)

I, too, like Kyla(CalamityJean), would love to receive some of your vegan recipes! If you would be allright with sharing some of those with me, that'd be great! :)

Stephanie said...

Interesting. We eat wild meat (deer and moose) and wouldn't consider buying meat in a store, for the very reasons you mention... primarily because of the junk that gets put into it. Did you know that in the U.S. (and maybe Canada?) they will soon be putting milk and meat from cloned animals on the market and will not be labeling it as such?!? Crazy. As much as I love my meat and milk, I will never buy it from a store. I'll stick to my wild venison and goat's milk from my parents, who live in the country... If that is not an option, I would have no choice but to become a vegetarian.

Anonymous said...

We're omnivores here...a nice mix, I think...probably a little heavier on the grains, veges, & dairy than most meat-eaters, but we like things that way. I wouldn't turn down a good chicken or roast beef dinner, but all the yummy leftovers in the days that follow (using smaller quantities of said meat) are just as delicious.

Brenda

Mrs. Brigham said...

Well said, Anna! We are in the midst of what we are calling the Great Vegetarian Experiment, and so far, the meals have been tasting very yummy and have been a nice, welcome break from meat.

Terry said...

While we do eat meat, we are starting to eat it less and less. The fewer meals we cook with meat the easier it is for me (since my hubby's a vegetarian), and its helped to drastically reduce our grocery budget. I'm actually really enjoying eating more meatless meals. Of course, cheeseburgers are still my favorite food!

Jimena said...

Anna thanks for sharing. I really think all your reasons are worth serious consideration. I have tried to avoid meat as much as I can; both my husband and I like it, but we do not believe animals should be treated badly, it really is important for me. Anyway, thanks for sharing. Blessings

Kate said...

Right on, Anna! I do eat meat from time to time, but I keep an all-dairy kosher kitchen - I like the idea of meat being a special-occasion indulgence, rather than an everyday food, for all of the reasons you mention.

(Having a dairy-only kitchen also enormously simplifies kashrut. For those of you who aren't familiar with the practice of keeping kosher, it requires having separate dishes, utensils, pots and pans, blenders, sponges, etc for milk and meat foods. Not having meat at home therefore reduces the space and expense of kitchen equipment, as well as avoiding the high cost of kosher meat itself [let alone kosher, organic, free-range beef and poultry, which my mother buys occasionally, and which are practically worth their weight in gold]).

Adlyn said...

I don't eat a lot of red meat (never did not even as a child). I mostly eat chicken, pork, seafood, lamb, gain, oats, fuirts/veggies ect. (not beans thought I dislike them always have always will:)) anyway, I'm glad that you like being a vegetarian :)

xoxoxoxo,
Adlyn

p.s. I did not know that their was hormoines in meat gross!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anna,

This is my first time commenting, but I enjoy reading your blog every day.

My husband and I have cut way back on our meat consumption. Our local supermarket recently starting carrying organic, free-range, grass-fed beef. When we have some extra money, we do buy it. But, when we don't have the money, we stick to vegetarian fare.

God Bless,
Juliana

Kristabelle said...

all good reasons...

Anna S said...

- I don't eat fish. There are plant sources of Omega 3, which by the way don't contain dangerous substances fish accumulate in a polluted area.

- B12 for vegans sounds like a problem indeed. I don't know of a plant source.

anna said...

Good reasons indeed! I cut down meat consumption mainly by making casseroles etc with lots of vegetables and just a bit of meat. Peas and lentils are great for protein too (even my "carnivore" husband agrees on this... I know you knew already)

Have a beautiful weekend

Coffee Catholic said...

I totally agree with your post - and I eat red meat on a daily basis and I am a farmer's wife! It's so true - the meat industry is all about cramming as much cattle and sheep onto the land as possible, loading on all sorts of artificial fertilizers and then pumping the animals full of grain in order to force them to put on weight at an unnatural speed.

It's been proven that feeding cattle grain causes a change in their fats that then causes heart disease in human beings. It's not red meat that casues the heart attacks - it's the grain feeding that alters the red meat and makes it dangerous and unhealthy for consumption.

God put us on this earth to be good stewards and unless we are farming in accordance with the law of God we are doing it WRONG. I'm so thankful that my husband is converting everything to the organic system! This means more space per animal, thick bedding, only a small amount of grain, no pesticides or artificial fertilizers on the land, very minimal medications for the animals and so many other wonderful *biblical* farming methods!

If all we do is chase money then we lose our blessings. But if we trust God and do everything according to His will then we reap plenty of blessings that more then make up for the loss of profits!

BettySue said...

I also agree with much of what you have said. We are aiming towards growing our own meat.
There is one point on the environment to consider however. I have heard before that we can grow more plant food than meat food on an acre of land. This is simply not always true. I live in the deep west of the US. A LOT of this land (including my backyard) can not be farmed at all (rocks held together by clay and sagebrush). The only thing that can be grow here, comercially, is animals. With out our cattle industry, this land would be totaly economicaly usless. I just wish they took the animals stright from the range to the market instead of stopping off at the feed lot:-(

Rachel said...

I don't quite understand why people are so into "organic" meat. I live on a 300 acre beef farm, and when one of our cows gets sick, we give it the appropriate medicine. It doesn't pose a health risk at all as long as the withdrawal period (the time between when you give medicine and when you can slaughter) is followed. Conditions aren't really good in the stockyards, but where our cattle are raised they are free to run around in the pasture and eat mainly hay with some protien cubes thrown in. We don't confine them at all unless one is sick or about to calve.

Erica Shier said...

Rachel;

The point, I think, is that many people don't have the luxury of knowing where their meat is coming from and labels like "free range" "pastured" "hormone free" and "organic" help a person to know with some certainty how that particular animal was treated.

I agree with Coffee Catholic that the diet of cattle matters. They are ruminants, created by God to graze. When we feed them grain, it upsets the natural digestion of cows. It gives them an acid stomach, which kills of many of the beneficial enzymes, etc in grass-fed beef (omega 3 fats, Vitamin E, etc) and it increases the chances of contracting E Coli from the animal (my info is from "Real Food: What to Eat and Why" by Nina Planck.

This Friday I will receive half a cow from a local dairy farmer who grass feeds and doesn't use hormones (and antibiotics only when needed). I know the animal lived a happy cow's life (their motto: Happy cows make better milk) It will come to about $3.00 a pound, which includes the steaks, roasts, etc. Not a bad deal, in my estimation. It can be done.

That said, I still try to incorporate some vegetarian meals into my weekly schedule, for many of the reasons Anna has listed.