Why I became a vegetarian

I have always loved animals and have always been concerned about their welfare. I remember my brother being not-so-nice to the neighbor’s cat, who later became our cat. And he was not always nice or gentle with our cat Pookie, who was supposed to be my cat, but ended up suffering from Stockholm syndrome and loving my brother more than me. But I digress. I also feel compelled to say that my brother outgrew that stage and now is an upstanding soldier, pet-owner, and dad.

In high school I wrote a paper about animal rights. I even tried to talk my anatomy and physiology teacher into skipping the cat dissection. He wasn’t convinced, but at least he seemed to take my concerns seriously. I remember another girl in the class jumping on the animal rights bandwagon, but then when we did dissect the cats, she played with the intestines, putting them around her neck like a necklace. The teacher commented on how that didn’t seem to go along with her earlier argument against dissecting animals, and I had to agree with him.

After dissecting a cat, I could not eat lamb because cutting lamb reminded me of the connective tissue we had to look at on the cats. It totally grossed me out. I also didn’t care much for chicken when I was growing up. I finally did start eating more chicken in college, but it always had to be boneless and skinless. So I wouldn’t say I ever ate a lot of meat, but I wasn’t close to being a vegetarian. So, I don’t think I was ever a big meat eater. I was always picking, not caring much for seafood or fish (except tuna and swordfish), pork, or chicken. We didn’t eat lamb while growing up, but I did eat some when we lived in Philadelphia. It’s not that I didn’t eat meat, because I did. It’s just that I was picky and probably could have lived without it if I’d decided to.

I guess partly there was the slight aversion I had to some meats that contributed to becoming a vegetarian. It was also a huge moral issue for me, and still is. Sometimes it just feels wrong to kill animals for food. And then there are the health issues, which was somewhat of a motivator for me. Supposedly vegetarians have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and lower incidences of heart disease. I could give you links, but all you have to do is google that to find information and studies. I now question those studies, or at least question whether it is healthier for me to be a vegetarian, but that is for another post.

So what finally made me decide to do it? I met someone else who was a vegetarian. I’ve known other vegetarians and vegans, but for some reason this friend made the idea stick. She wasn’t pushy about it or anything. She just mentioned it and gave me information when I asked. That alone did not make me do it, though. What really happened is that shortly before Thanksgiving I had a horrible dream about little baby Aidan somehow being what we were roasting for Thanksgiving. He was on a little spit and everything. It was a vivid and horrible dream. I knew that I was not going to be able to eat turkey on Thanksgiving! I was a little sad because Tom makes a divine turkey, but I just could not eat it. I did eat some green beans with bacon in them for that meal, so becoming a vegetarian was a gradual process. Most meats I gave up cold turkey, but I did slip up a few times. I once ate jerky and totally did not think about it until the next morning when I woke up and had jerky stuck in my teeth. And I remember one time eating a pizza with chicken when my dad was visiting, but that was just after Christmas. After that, it was pretty easy and there were only a few slips that were mostly accidental.

For me, the hard part about being vegetarian was that I had to decide where to draw the line. Some people call themselves vegetarians but they still eat pork or fish or chicken. For me that was easy since I didn’t miss those foods much anyway. But then there are cheeses, and some of those are made with rennet, which comes from the lining of a calves stomach (though it can also be vegetable-based). So I tried to eat only vegetarian cheese for a while. Oh, and what about marshmallows or pudding or jello? Those have gelatin in them, which is an animal product. And then there are shoes and clothing made from animal products, not to mention the animal ingredients in beauty products and many other foods you would not think of as having animal ingredients in them. For a while I thought I’d someday be vegan and give up dairy and eggs and anything else containing animal ingredients. Now, here I am living in the country and questioning being a vegetarian at all. Sometimes it’s funny how things change.

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5 Responses to “Why I became a vegetarian”

  1. Abbas El-ta'alu Says:

    All depends on how old you are. Young people that are vegetarians (to me as a physiologist,), are doing more harm to their life than good. I have alot of reasons against such a way of life. Many famous men and women died before thier death because of being vegetarians, and if you do not mind, I can send you thier list.
    In conclution, I would like all people to know that, a valeological way of feeding is obtained only when both plant and animal menu are ushered.
    Just me,
    Abbas Bubakar El-ta’alu
    (a Nigerian, and a post-graduate),
    Dept. of Human Physiology,
    V. N. Karazin Kharkov National University, Ukraine.

    • hippygirl Says:

      I would say that being vegetarian can be healthy for people, but it depends on a lot of factors, including what kinds of vegetarian foods are being eaten. A person can be a vegetarian but eat processed grains and cheeses and that would not be all that healthy, for example. But I am certain that some people can eat vegetarian and be healthy. I don’t seem to be one of those people, but that is for the next post on this issue. 🙂

  2. Abbas El-ta'alu Says:

    My dear Hippygirl,
    There is no doubt about that, vegetarianism has its positive, as well as negative sides to a valeologically healthy way of living. You are a vegetarian because you feel like being so, because of your already mentioned reason/s. I am not saying that you must stop being one, that is your choice, but the fact remains so (as I said in my last post). The human body is integrated, dynamic, self-directing, and self-regulating. Because of this, a vegetarian can consume only vegetables and be healthy (as you said). That is timely, because the body adjusts, i.e responds to any disturbance of the set-point in its valeo-physical and chemical composition of its internal environment. When the limit is reached the forth-coming results are always fatal.
    We, just of recent, had a round-table talk on “Vegetarianism – FOR AND AGAINST “. Specialists from different areas of knowlege, with Vegetarians inclussive, talked on many interesting things. The only problem was that, it seems as if vegetarians nowadays are trying to unite worldwide to form a cult. I hope you would not be annoyed with the last statement. I am just calling a spade a spade!!!

  3. Erin Says:

    Hi Hippygirl! I completely understand your desire to be vegetarian…and for some people I definitely think it is a healthier choice! You just have to pay attention to your own body and know what is good for YOU. My husband has more energy and feels better when he doesn’t eat meat (he was a vegetarian for years; now I’ve corrupted him but he’s going back). I, on the other hand, was a vegetarian for most of my life, even vegan for one year, but feel much healthier now that I eat animal products. I started eating meat probably for similar reasons as you are thinking about…I lived in the Republic of Georgia where people raise and kill their own meat and there are NO factory farms and the meat is organic, free range, healthy…and it is nearly impossible to make people in that country understand/respect vegetarianism. So I started eating meat and, except for one year, have never gone back. I have more energy, feel better, etc. But that’s me. I do prefer to eat locally grown, ethically killed animals. Ideally I’d like to raise and process my own but that’s not possible at this point!

    Well, just wanted to comment from the perspective from a recovered member of the vegetarian “cult” 🙂 and to say that in my personal experience being vegetarian is DEFINITELY healthier for some people. And it is definitely healthier for our planet. But don’t drink the koolaid (haha, sorry couldn’t resist).

    • hippygirl Says:

      Yes, I have another whole post started about this. 🙂 I have started eating some meat here and there, but am very picky about it for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Anyway, I hope to finish that post sometime this week. But we’ll see since we have a guest now and he leaves Wed. and then another arrives Thurs. 🙂

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