As most people know I’m a “mostly vegetarian” – I have meat or eggs once or twice a week, for some reason usually in the form of pepperoni or sausage because pizza. Also because I do like to “keep in touch” with meat on a culinary level, if that makes any sense, though that’s usually when I do some insanely unhealthy thing like trying to make pepperoni pizza dip.
Most of my diet is vegetarian with carefully-chosen milk products (low-fat yogurt). It’s pretty much been the reason for over 2/3 of my weight loss from when I was 30 lbs over weight (and yes, due to my weird build it was hard to tell until the doctor pointed it out – both sides of my family can wear extra pounds well). It’s also frankly left me feeling better.
(The rest was calorie control, careful eating, and walking more)
But there’s a lot of reasons I eat vegetarian.
Actually I wanted to discuss them. I also wanted to discuss them as a “person” because it seems many people have this image of the vegetarian scold. In my experience that’s an almost entirely-false image, but the idea is still there of some vegetarian being all self-righteous, snippy, and dull. I think we project those days mom wanted us to eat our broccoli (pro tip for kids – point out to mom there’s many great ways to prepare it!).
So here’s the reasons in no particular order.
It’s Inevitable: Not your most noble point, but the thing is the food industry as we know it has a lot of unsustainable practices, issues with antibiotics, inefficiencies, and so forth. Which is a shame, because there’s also some amazing technology out there that people forget about that let us do incredible things to raise food. But in the end meat is pretty inefficient and is associated with some unhealthy practices, so I see it getting pricier and more troublesome, and going mostly vegetarian was getting a jump on an inevitability.
The Environment: Part of “the inevitable” is that a lot of our food practices are really bad for the environment and thus us. I feel a lot better participating in that less – and I think as noted we’ll have less choice.
It Can Be Healthier – In A Lazy Way: From everything I can find out you can eat meat and animal products in moderation and be healthy – it just takes a little planning and awareness. On the other hand I found by going vegetarian made it just plain easier to cut out unhealthy food and opportunities because they’re less likely to be there – so I filled my plate with vegetarian stuff I liked. Note however that preparing food yourself and being aware of nutritional value is a big part of this.
It’s Healthier – Processing: Also to be honest a lot of the meat industry makes me unsettled. Between questionable practices, breeding, hormones, and of course misuse of antibiotics, I’m really not trusting a lot of meat right now that isn’t extremely treated and prepared. Sure I have to be careful with milk and eggs but really, I get concerned.
Expanded Cooking Repertoire: There’s a lot of vegetarian cooking in the world and it’s delicious – but when you’re “meat-centric” you can miss it. I think a focus on meat in our diets limits our culinary options. Since I started cooking vegetarian I’ve discovered a much wider range of tastes and interests – some of that due to new experiences, some of that due to nutritional balancing.
The Examination: Going vegetarian made me ask why some things taste good – like a burger, or a steak, and so on. Switching made me think and learn about what we like and how it tastes. Another case where going flexitarian or temporarily vegetarian may be educational to people.
It Can Be Cheaper: I found that I save money if I use little to no meat and limited animal products. It’s actually a bit less than I expected – also I think the gain occurs the more people you cook for. As I expect costs of meat to go up, I expect the cheapness to be a factor in the future.
It Has Ethical Benefits: I don’t consider eating meat a bad thing; in fact, I don’t want people to give it up completely just due to culinary history and so forth. But I’m really finding the way we raise meat is disturbing in what it does to animals, the environment, and ourselves. The inefficiency of the meat industry as it is is something I don’t want to support. So this feels more ethically appropriate.
It’s a Shock To The System: A switch to vegetarianism or mostly vegetarianism/flexitarianism really makes you think. Like any dietary shift it can be educational, but as it has other benefits, I’ve found it very enjoyable to shake myself up – and I’m working to do it still with new ingredients or influences.
Ready For a Crisis: I figure if there’s ever a disaster (I do live in an Earthquake zone) it’s easier to know how to rely on vegetables than meat – and hey, there’s canned stuff. Also if there’s ever a local disaster and I try to help out, I got the cooking skills to lend a hand feeding people.
Ready To Help: Any crises aside, the fact I can cook effective healthy food means it’s great for potlucks, charity events, and so on.
Peace Of Mind: I find that eating vegetarian or mostly so clears up so many issues it gives me more peace of mind.
High Fiber: Look, let’s get down to it. Eating more vegetables means regularity and better health. If you’re not thinking about such things, well, juuust wait until you’re older. Just wait.
So those are my reasons. I hope they give you an idea of why I do what I do and give you some things to think about!
– Steven Savage