Dec 6, 2010

A VegGiving Story

What would thanksgiving be without a little drama? The annual meal is not complete without some mashed potatoes with a little drama on top. In my case, the best drama is the drunken buffoonery that goes on, but this year there was a good ol’ slice of awkwardness with an offensive aftertaste. It all started when No-Name* over heard that the stuffing was made with veggie broth so it was Veg friendly. When No-Name learned I was a vegetarian, she released the kind of chuckle you hold inside when a child tells you he’s afraid of the monster under his bed, like it were the silliest thing she’d ever heard. She said “Oh, honey… Animals have no souls! Its people you should worry about, people have souls, not animals” like she was assuring me (condescendingly) that there were in fact no monsters under my bed. Uhhhhhhh! I literally didn’t know what to say. It was quite literally a ‘WTF’ moment.  Had I been more than half way through my (lethal) Cosmo at this time it could have gotten ugly, the awkwardness at the table could have been cut with the carving knife. I calmly assured her I care very much about people, in addition to caring about animals. I don’t think its really and issue of either/or. 

This moment made it clear to me MORE THAN EVER that not everyone understands vegetarianism, and I can relate because I too, at one time, thought of vegetarians as kinda… well… weird. Like rebels to society or trying to be ‘better’ than the average (meat-eating) person. And this was the first time in my 5 years of being a Veg that someone truly
insulted because I’m vegetarian. 

I’ve been asked on countless occasions why I'm a vegetarian. I, myself, think it’s interesting to know why
everyone choses to eat what they do! I know I’m being cliché, but we quite literally are what we eat. I find I’m never very good at answering this question in conversation, so when people ask me why I don’t eat meat, I never have the same answer. I don’t want to offend any meat eaters by saying I think eating animals is wrong, because I think people have every right to eat meat, just as I have every right not to. Sometimes I’ll talk about how I’ve always avoided eating meat, even since I was a child, it just seemed weird to me and after doing research on the food, and specifically the meat industry, I couldn’t ignore what I had learned and go back to eating meat. 

So here is my opportunity to hopefully put into the best words I can, exactly why I choose to be a vegetarian. I’m not trying to blow your minds here with quotes Gandhi wishes he came up with. Its really very simple. For 18 years of my life, I was NOT a vegetarian. I’ve been a member of both parties now, and I’ve chosen to stay on the leafy side.  This is why:

I like to know where my food has come from and what it has gone through to get to my plate. This includes fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, butter, pasta, flour, sugar, meat, etc. I’m very interested in it all, not just meat. I don’t actually ever remember making the conscious decision that
today will be the last day I eat a burger, or chicken, or bacon, etc. I was in college and the options available in our cafeteria were wide and varying. I never really picked out anything that had meat (well except the fried chicken strips, I liked those... shh!). Then one day it kinda clicked. Hey! There are others who don’t eat meat!! That’s when I realized I hadn’t really decided to enter the world of vegetarianism, it just kind of happened (after I said my final goodbyes to the chicken strips). I started doing research on why other people are vegetarians. Then I got into how species like cows go from being cows to beef, learning about where they are raised, how they are treated, how they are killed, and how they eventually get onto our plates. Even in the most ‘humane’ of cases, knowing the meat on my plate was at one time a live animal just doesn’t settle right in my stomach. What it all comes down to for me is a very simple reasoning. I believe there is a certain amount of suffering involved with turning animals to meat. It’s a suffering that I don’t want to be a part of. Eating the flesh of an animal that suffered to get onto my dinner table is not what I want to do. Plain and simple. If I were perfect, I would apply this logic of mine to eggs, dairy and leather too, but I'm not perfect in my ways. I know there is suffering involved with these too, but it is easier for me to forget about than being faced with a plate of flesh. 

In the end, who know if animals have ‘souls’ or not. Who is ANYONE to say? But I do know
they are capable of suffering. Have you ever seen a dog in pain? If a dog is capable of suffering, so is any other animal. Anyone can tell me that animals are meant for us to eat. If that works for you, that’s fine by me! I’m not the one to judge whether eating meat is right or wrong. I think it’s an issue of personal beliefs and it is a very personal decision. I’m okay with you eating meat as long as you are okay with me not. 

I’ll never be one to say a vegetarian diet is the best way to eat because hell if I know!! I just know what is best for me. I can only encourage you and everyone here to give a damn about what you eat; where its coming from and how it got there (not just meat!!) and make your diet decisions from there. Don’t do it to fit in with any one person or group or family. Most of my friends aren’t vegetarians and I am the only member of my family who is one. I didn’t do it for them, and I didn’t do it for attention or to stand out among the rest. I do it for me.

If you eat meat, you are NOT a heartless animal killer and I don’t mean to say you don’t care about suffering either. You have reasons for eating meat just like I have reasons for not. . The End

*names have been changed, obviously

Since I don't want to leave you without a recipe ill share a link to the recipe I served as a main course alternative (or additional as it turned out to be) to the thanksgiving meal. From one of my idols: Butternut Squash and Cheddar Bread Pudding. I cant recommend this enough!

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