Why I decided to beome a vegetarian.

As of today it has been exactly one month since I decided to stop eating meat (I know the exact date thanks to Facebook). It hasn’t been as hard as I would have imagined. As big of a meat eater as I was, I mostly ate the same things. Maintaining a balanced diet using meat free options has forced me to expand my tastes and I’ve discovered a wider variety of food that’s even more delicious. Plus, good soy-based meat substitutes taste almost exactly the same as real meat.

It’s not as if a month ago I suddenly had a mysterious epiphany. I’ve always loved animals and a while ago stopped wearing fur (not that I was prancing around in fur jackets all the time- I just had a rabbit fur scarf), although I do still have a pair of leather gloves and 2-3 belts that are leather- baby steps! In spite of the fact that we had lots of pets and my mom can become unhealthily attached to animals, I was still raised in a big meat eating household, so it was habit to eat meat on a regular basis and I just never changed that when I moved out. Aside from an aunt and uncle who are vegan, I don’t even know any vegetarians.

I guess the part that was an epiphany though was, I was at Fairway listening to Meat is Murder by The Smiths and looking at the mural of farm animals that’s on the outside of their Harlem store, and I started thinking about how I love farm animals. I love them so much that I put pictures of various exotic and farm creatures on the desktop of the computer at work, and if I think it’s tragic and disgusting for an adorable puppy or kitten to be eaten, why would I feel any differently about an adorable piglet? I do not believe that meat is literally murder, I think that song is melodramatic (likely on purpose, although music as a form of propaganda is a separate topic), however the combination of listening to that and seeing the mural of the happy, frolicking animals made me feel disgusted about going into the store to purchase meat, so I bought other stuff and went home to do some research on the meat industry and animal cruelty.

My research was not very scholarly. I simply browsed Wikipedia and the PETA website. I should take this moment to state that while I think PETA has a good overall concept, that animals should be treated ethically, I disagree with some of their more extreme stances, such as support of the Animal Liberation Front- a group which uses violence, intimidation and other illegal means to secure the proper treatment of animals. I also think doing things like throwing paint on a fur jacket is stupid. I don’t think anyone is persuaded to join a cause by being confronted by violent nutcases. That said, PETA has accomplished a decent amount for animal rights, but I won’t be joining them anytime soon.

Back to the original point, what I learned about the treatment of animals in the meat industry made me quite sad. I realize that animals are treated poorly in the egg and dairy industry as well, and I have not become a complete vegan. It’s certainly possible for me to do that of course, but as I said before, baby steps. I actually don’t eat a huge amount of dairy anyway though, mostly just yogurt and whatever dairy is used as an ingredient in various other things. It’s not a perfect world and it’s nearly impossible not to be a hypocrite in some way. All I can say is I’m trying my best to do something positive. Even in the fruit and vegetable world as most are probably aware, there are serious problems with the exploitation of workers, so it’s not as if the meat industry has sole dibs on cruelty.

Animals aside, it’s probably healthier for me to cut out the meat. I felt it was gross for me to be known as the girl who ate a ton of meat. I was clogging my arteries with fat and processed junk. This isn’t about me losing weight, working at a cookie store that’s a losing battle, but just being healthier in general. I feel the same about riding a bike too. It’s better for the environment with the plus of being better for me.

I’m not out to judge anyone who wants to eat 22 quarterpounders a day while wearing a fur jumpsuit (well, if that was an actual description of someone there would be some private judgement). This is a personal decision I made and other people are entitled to do whatever the hell they want. I just want to make it clear that I haven’t become militant about this.

Time to enjoy my pumpkin muffin dessert after my delicious meal of rotini in marinara sauce.

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