A lot of people have asked me recently, why a sensible, bacon-loving person such as myself would give up (for the most part) meat. So here’s why…
Since September, my husband and I have moved towards vegetarian eating. After watching Forks Over Knives (just watch it-it’s health-focused not animal focused so it won’t make you cry), we did a month of veganism to help retrain our eating habits/tastebuds and then eased back into some cheese and eggs. I’ve found that ferretting out eggs in foods is too much of a pain in the ass and I love cheese so there was really no question that that would come back into what we eat.
The long and short of the documentary is that if you eat less animal products, you’ll live longer and have less disease. They have lots of information to back it up and I think the majority of people intuitively just know and feel this to be true. So I was left at the end of the movie thinking, “What more do I need to know before I start making some changes?” I don’t have any particular health issues I’m trying to reign in but living a longer, healthier life and having that life also be generally easier on the planet seems like a no-brainer. It also helps that I love all vegetables and fruit (except for celery- bleh).
So I am, what many would call, a flexitarian. I occasionally, will have a little meat here and there and still have seafood sometimes but my husband is a full-on “No meat. At all. Ever.” Vegetarian. Like won’t just pick the pepperoni off the pizza because now it has icky meat juice on it vegetarian. This was kind of a big shock for me since he was a frequent diner at places like Jack in the Box and was a big fan of all things carne. And because when I see a slab of ribs I still drool. Or bacon. Or carnitas. It just goes to show we all grow into this in our way. I’m not an advocate for extremes but I think most people can see how cutting some animal products out of their diet could be pretty easy. Switch out your milk, try meatless Mondays, don’t add the chicken to your salad for 2 more dollars when you eat out. Etc. etc.
In the event you decide to make some changes like I did, here are some interesting/amusing insights I’ve come across in my almost 7 months of mostly vegetarian eating.
#1 Just because someone is a vegetarian does NOT mean they are on a diet or trying to lose weight. I eat out a lot. Like way too much. And when I order carne asada chips (which is often) with no carne, I don’t want 5 greasy chips with a spoonful of beans on them. I want the same nachos as everyone else but with beans in place of meat. Don’t deny me the right to a Mexican food coma!!
#2 Not all vegetarian food needs to contain cumin. I do not like cumin and I swear that a good 50% of all vegetarian food sneak some damn cumin in there. There’s a whole world of spices out there, let’s get creative restaurateurs. You’re better than that!
#3 Chicken is meat. I repeat: Chicken is meat. I have never realized how many people are under the strange assumption that being vegetarian means you just don’t eat red meat. It’s all the animals folks.
#4 We really don’t need as much protein as everyone seems to think. Without fail, as soon as someone catches wind that you are a vegetarian, suddenly they become very concerned with your protein intake. As adults, we only really need about 46-56 grams of protein a day. There are many, many ways to get protein in your diet. Meat is one way. There’s also quinoa, other grains, nuts, beans and even some veggies have protein. Not to mention that if you still eat dairy, there’s milk, cheese etc. Take a look around. Maybe if we weren’t so unnecessarily infatuated with protein, we might have less of an obesity epidemic.
#5 I am not a crazy “save the animals” person. I like animals at what I would consider to be an average level. Grumpy Cat – love him. Lassie– big fan. Baby animals of all sorts– adorbs. But you won’t find me boycotting the circus in my free time or posting mauled animal pictures to solicit a public outcry of support for animal rights or trying to convert people to vegetarianism. It’s not my thing. But what I find hilarious is when people ask about why you’re vegetarian and then they seem to get defensive and start defending their decision to eat meat by mocking you with things like, “Oh, are you one of those people who think animals have SOULS?!? Well guess what! You’re shoes are made out of leather.” Whoa, whoa, whoa there Crazy Pants. Throttle back. I have a bacon figurine on my desk at work (see picture above); I still weep at the majesty of a well done burger and dream about the Carnitas Snack Shack. So relax. There’s no Sarah Mclachlan music following me around and no one is trying to pry the In n Out from your cold dead hands.
Any other recent converts to being flexitarian, vegetarian or vegan? What was your tipping point? Any funny observations along the way?