Animal, Mineral, Vegetarian

Today’s answer is to PittChick‘s questions:

“How long have you been a vegetarian? How will you feel if your children opt to try animal products one day?”

I stopped eating red meat when I was 18 years old. I just didn’t like it anymore. I wasn’t that picky an eater growing up — I ate everything, with the exception of lima beans (still true, except for the meat thing). But at some point, I just started disliking the taste and/or texture of red meat.

I became a complete vegetarian in college. Part of that was the cafeteria experience — the food they served in the cafeteria was atrocious. To this day, I cannot get cucumbers from a salad bar because of the Towers Cafeteria. The other part of my decision to go totally veg was a persuasion class I took. We had to give a persuasive speech as part of our grade, and I decided to do mine on vegetarianism. Afterwards, I couldn’t condone eating any animals, not just cows. (It’s less about animal rights, and more about environmental conservation.)

I fully expect my children to try meat some day. We joke about how our kids won’t sneak cigarettes or booze; they’ll sneak McDonalds. On a serious note, though, when and if my girls decide to try meat, I hope they do it with the full knowledge of why I brought them up as vegetarians.

I also hope that they won’t try McDonalds; that if/when they decide to try meat or become meat eaters, they will be conscientious ones. To wit, they will steer clear of mass-produced, factory farmed animals, and choose instead to get hormone-free, locally raised beef, chicken, etc. We already do a lot of organic produce and dairy at home, so they are on that path, now, too. When I buy meat or fish for my husband or guests, I tend to look for the organic and hormone-free options.

I think factory farming is incredibly destructive to the environment. (And kind of gross, too.) I worry about a lot of stuff that we pump into our food meat and our dairy cows. I am trying to make choices about my children’s health that are also good for the environment. If I’m going to help them live for a long time, I’d like them to have a nice world in which to live.

I think the best, most cogent (and entertaining take) I have read on this subject is Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. My review on it is here.

Got a question for me? You can leave it in the comments here, or shoot me an email.

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3 thoughts on “Animal, Mineral, Vegetarian

  1. My best friend was raised not eating meat. They consumed fish/seafood, and were vegetarians for the same reason as you: environmental, and also because of the fact that the grain we feed animals could feed WAY more people than the meat we get from those animals.

    She started eating chicken in college, and basically hides this fact from them. She drinks and smokes in front of them, so you are certainly right about your girls not hiding that but the meat ;) Makes me laugh.

    As you know, I LOVED Ominvore’s, and really would go veggie if Zach would. ::sigh::

    • Re: your friend. See? I know that’s exactly what’s going to happen. (Not that I’ll be terribly happy to see either of my girls with a cigarette. It’s a terrible addiction; I know.)

      And, yes, that second point about how much grain can go to feed people, that is another huge reason for my vegetarianism.

      I was a vegetarian for so long before Dan & I got together. He eats vegetarian a lot when he is eating what I am cooking. But I do cook chicken or fish for him occasionally; twice I’ve done steak! And when we have omnivores as guests, I feel it’s polite to cook meat. As I mentioned, I just try to choose local/hormone-free/organic meat.

      Omnivore is a GREAT book. I didn’t do so well with his nutrition book, though.

  2. My hubby and I make the same joke — that our vegan daughter will sneak McDonald’s instead of cigarettes — how funny! All this time, I thought it was *our* joke.

    A couple months ago, walking down the street, my daughter (who’s 4) spied a McDonald’s ad. Her response? “Mama, Mama — look at those yummy veggie burgers!”

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