Friday, November 8, 2013

Pros and Cons of Becoming Vegetarian

I'm an omnivore; I grew up eating meat.  Almost all of us did.
Con of Being Vegetarian: Humans have been eating meat for millions of years.

When I was young, my class went on a field trip to the back of a grocery store (yes, that is considered an appropriate field trip in East Central Illinois).  We got to see the meat they brought in before the butchers cut it into palatable bits for consumers.
Our guide gleefully pointed out the different organs and anatomical features in half a cow hanging from the ceiling.  When I got home, I told my parents I was a vegetarian.
"And this is where it's children nuzzled it for warmth..."
Pro of Being Vegetarian: Meat is gross.
They were okay with my being vegetarian, but I would have to eat a lot of beans and cheese.  I hated both.  I gave up being a vegetarian.

Con: Vegetarian food is gross.
When I grew up, I took a moral stand.  If you can live without being cruel to animals, you should.  I was a vegetarian.

Pro: Meat is cruel.
Eating a diet of beans and vegetables, having an allergy towards underarm deodorant, and working in a small, poorly-ventilated room proved to be a bad combination.  All my coworkers got desk fans and pointed them at me.  It took me years to figure out why.

Er, something you want to tell me?

Con: Vegetarians smell bad.
I went back to being an omnivore.

I was a bird owner for thirteen years.  Owning a pet bird changes the way you look at animals.  Birds seem alien, cold, unfeeling.  Once you live with one, you realize they really aren't all that different from cats and dogs.  They look you in the eye when you talk to them.  They like it when you pet them and turn so you can get their itchy spots.  They have a (bad) sense of humor.  They get sad and angry and scared.  Mine used to show concern when I cried and kiss the tears off my face.
One day, I went to the supermarket and bought a Cornish game hen.  As I prepared it and put it in the oven, I realized how much it looked like my own little bird.

Imagine looking down at your half-eaten steak and seeing a flea collar still attached.
Pro: After you realize all animals share the qualities we love in pets it's heartbreaking to eat them.

I became an omnivore who didn't eat birds.
Vegetarianism hadn't worked for me in the past, so I took a more moderated approach.  Instead of going cold turkey (Get it?  Cold Turkey.  GET IT?), I'd just stop eating birds.  No more fried chicken, chicken pot pie, duck a l'orange, chicken noodle soup, etc.  With the exception of Thanksgiving (during which I make sure to get the happiest, healthiest, heritage-iest turkey around), I was bird free.
Still, it's hard to resist some times.

Con: Meat tastes good.
Then I had a cholesterol test.

"Cut back on red meat and fried foods," my doctor said.
Pro: Vegetarians are healthier.

No birds.  No cows, pigs, or sheep.
That left me with ocean creatures, cats and dogs, and zoo animals.  I became a pescaterian.
Being a pescaterian, however, is about as untenable for me as being a full-on vgetarian.  I love restaurants and, let's face it, vegetarian food in restaurants is disgusting.  Seriously, there's only so much grilled eggplant, slimy grilled peppers, and beans I can take.  There's only so much seafood I can take, too.

Con: Most restaurants have terrible vegetarian options.
So, I'm a pescaterian who eats red meat in restaurants.

If you have children and don't come from a third-world country, you have a pile of leftovers in your refrigerator.  Kids just never eat a consistent amount, so you prepare a lot and expect to have extra.  What does a vegetarian do when perfectly good meat is about to be thrown away?
"Sorry, I can't read your blog.  I have all this food to eat."
If you think about it, throwing away meat is pretty awful.  All living things {birds, cows, bugs, plants, whatever} share the fact that they want to live.  They might not be conscious of it, but they all want it on some level or they wouldn't be alive.
When you throw meat away, you're essentially saying "Yeah, maybe it died so I could eat it and live, but I don't give a crap about its suffering."
So I'm a vegetarian who eats seafood and leftovers and meat at restaurants that have yucky vegetarian choices.

Life is confusing.

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