Friday, January 27, 2012

My feelings on eating meat.

I have discussed why I decided to start eating a vegan diet on my blog, but I have concentrated on the health and nutritional aspects of my decision.  I don't really discuss my ethical views on the subject much.  The main reason is probably because it is the most controversial aspect of veganism.  The other reason is that it is a very personal thing for me.  I have been an animal lover as long as I can remember.  When I was a kid, probably around 7 or 8, I remember my mom letting us take in a cat that had gotten part of his paw cut off somehow.  We didn't have much money and couldn't afford to take him to the vet, but my mom called a vet and got suggestions on how we could care for his wound.  I remember the cat would sleep with me at night.  I felt so special that he chose me to sleep with!  After a couple of weeks he started getting diarrhea and going to the bathroom on the carpet.  My mom decided we could no longer care for him and let him back outside.  I remember crying that night because I missed him so much.  The same thing happened when we had to give away our first dog because the apartment we moved into didn't allow pets.  Part of this could have been because we didn't have pets much when I was growing up until I was in high school.  The other reason could have been that I was dealing with my parent's divorce during my first animal experiences, and separation of any kind was difficult for me.  Whatever the reason, I have been a huge animal lover ever since.

I dabbled with vegetarianism since my first year in college because of my love for animals.  I was young and thin, and although I was into working out and eating relatively healthy I wasn't that concerned with the long term effects of what I was eating.  I cut out red meat for almost a year.  Although I started eating things like hamburgers again eventually I was never able to stomach things like steak again.  My system just couldn't handle it anymore after the hiatus of red meat for a year.  That should have been my first clue that maybe meat was not necessarily healthy for you.  I never went fully vegetarian, because basically I was super picky back then.  I couldn't stand most cooked vegetables, especially the popular ones like broccoli and cauliflower (I still can't stand either to this day actually).  I just thought I could never like vegetables enough to go vegetarian.

Fast forward to today.  As I started rolling into my 30s I started trying new cuisines and vegetables cooked in other ways than the normal mushy, cheesy way you find most often in the south.  To my surprise (and I'm sure my family's as well) I really liked these new things I was trying!  I finally decided after reading a couple of books to try becoming vegetarian.  Then, to my surprise, I started trying non dairy alternatives and actually liking them.  I have to say that the start of my interest in to this new diet was for the health benefits.  But the animal rights was always in the back of my mind, which is really the main reason I decided to go fully vegan.  I watched a lecture on You Tube by Gary Yourofsky that showed what these animals had to go through, especially in the dairy industry, and that was my final motivation.

So, what is my actual stance on eating meat?  How do I feel about others eating meat around me?  This is what gets me in trouble with both the meat eating and vegan communities.  Why?  Because one side is fully insistent that we should, have to, and need to eat meat.  The other side says eating meat, or even being around it, is 100% wrong, and if you don't shun those who do or aren't judgmental of them then you aren't a "true" vegan.  The truth is that I don't necessarily feel that eating meat is wrong.  I feel that cutting meat and dairy out of your diet is MUCH healthier, and will eliminate any risk of health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and high cholesterol.  But, eating meat has been a part of our culture for centuries.  The problem is the factory farms that produce our meat and dairy.  Even the free range farms aren't much better.  Not only are the animals tortured in too many ways to count, but the practices make the meat very unhealthy for us.  It's not the pig or cow being raised on a 100 acre farm in SD, living it's life to roam free and producing some milk for your family, until it's time to slaughter the animal, then you use every single part of the animal and spread out the meat for months to feed your family.  That's how it was back in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder (that's actually an exact story of how they raised one of their pigs in the first book of her Little House on the Prairie series).  If that was the case I would have no problem with people eating meat and dairy at all.  The main problem is that people aren't educated on these practices and what actually goes on in the factory farms.  And, the people that have the opportunity to learn turn around and run away with their fingers in their ears, because they if they see and know then they will have to rethink everything they grew up with and have been taught for decades.  Most people just don't want to know.  

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