I’ve gone 20 years now without eating meat. A fact that I thought was pretty well-known. It appears that I was mistaken – it’s been pretty frequent that a friend or coworker has found out, and the look of shock on their face is priceless! Maybe it’s because I’m not the stereotypical vegetarian. I don’t care what other people eat, I don’t try to guilt trip people into giving up meat, and I don’t even care if my veggie burger is cooked on the same grill as someone else’s hamburger.
I gave up meat the summer before my 10th birthday, immediately following a family party that involved a pig roast. The house that we were at was on a farm, and I spent the majority of my day playing with the animals. I was so happy! Imagine my complete horror when one of the pigs was shot, killed, and cooked in front of my eyes. I remember throwing up on the spot and I threw such a tantrum that my parents were forced to leave the party to take me home. I couldn’t believe what I had just saw! I was young, and it had never occurred to me what I was putting in my mouth every time I ate a hamburger, chicken nuggets, pepperoni…etc. I understood where fish came from – and living on the lake, I grew up associating fish with the smell of the dead rotting fish that we’re blessed with smelling on hot summer days. Fish had been something that I was never fond of. But it never crossed my mind that every time I had a strip of bacon, it came from an innocent pig. That a pig had to die so that I could eat. I was mortified.
When someone first finds out that I don’t eat meat, I always prepare for backlash. However, while it has definitely happened more often than not, recently I’ve found that the people I surround myself with are pretty great. Instead of going on and on about how they could never leave with meat, etc; I’ve had several friends express interest in trying out some recipes! Not to go vegetarian themselves, but simply to expand their own horizons. I always come prepared with a veggie dish to picnics and parties, but I’ve been so pleasantly surprised lately by the number of meat free dishes that are already there!
As I’m sure I mentioned before, I am a terrible cook. Just awful. One day I WILL teach myself how; but for now…if I made something, you probably don’t want to eat it. Shea, a childhood friend of mine, is the complete opposite. I follow her blog drooling over her delicious, vegan meals. For those looking to try out a meal or two, I HIGHLY recommend that you check out her page! Let me know what you think!
It’s almost effortless these days to find yummy, healthy vegetarian foods. Just about any restaurant you go to has some sort of vegetarian option. Even fast food places are jumping on board – Burger King carries veggie burgers, and Taco Bell even has an entire vegetarian menu on their app! I do eat dairy products and occasionally eggs, so it is easier for me to find things to eat when I’m out than it is for someone who is a strict vegan. Eventually I plan on going fully vegan…I just have to kick my love of cheese to the curb somehow. I heard somewhere that cheese is addictive, and I really believe that to be true!
Just a word of warning before I end for today… For vegetarian pet parents out there, it may be tempting to try to convert your pet as well. It makes sense. If you feel strongly enough about it from a health, political, or ethical stand point, it completely makes sense that you might want the same for your pets. Be VERY careful with this, only switching their diets under the strict care of your veterinarian.
Unlike humans, most animals NEED animal protein. Here’s what Cornell University says on the subject –
“It means that cats are strict carnivores that rely on nutrients in animal tissue to meet their specific nutritional requirements. In their natural habitat, cats are hunters that consume prey high in protein with moderate amounts of fat and minimal amounts of carbohydrates.”
Dogs can digest and absorb vegetable protein better, but it’s still not usually suggested to switch them away from a meat-based diet. That being said, there ARE vegetarian dog foods out there, especially those designed for dogs with allergies. I also know of a handful of people who home cook for their dogs – some vegetarian, some not. Dogs need a balanced diet, which can be tricky to ensure if you are cooking for them at home. Again, I can’t stress enough that before making the decision to stop giving your dog meat, PLEASE consult with your veterinarian.