The first thing people ask when they find out I’m a vegetarian is “why?” For a question that is so simple, the answer is usually difficult to answer in one breath. I grew up, like many Americans, eating meat as a normal way of life. Apart from momentary “awakenings”, I never questioned the practice of eating animals as food.
As I got older, I become more and more conscious of meat and it made me uncomfortable, but, even still, my sheer habit and history of eating meat for food was so strong that I was still able to continue eating. After a few months, though, I had to stop buying ground beef because it was getting too gross for me to prepare. Still, several years passed by while I ate sausage biscuits for breakfast and bacon cheeseburgers for lunch.
After a while, my moments of “consciousness” become too frequent to ignore and I started to reduce the amount of meat I ate at home and began ordering vegetarian meals at restaurants, if anything, just as an experiment to see what it was like. Around this time, I saw an investigative report on TV about the deaths caused by Mad Cow Disease. Part of the show went into explaining how the disease came about by mixing the remains of sheep, including brains and bones, into cows’ feed. (I later learned that this has been and still is standard practice in the USA…) There were several scenes that showed how the infected cows were disposed of including one showing a huge pile of discarded cows and cow parts (including disembodied heads). I knew then that I didn’t want to support any industry that involved so much waste and suffering.
Then I did it… I cut meat out of my diet completely and began my intensive self-education on vegetarianism. The more I learned, the more realized that there were few, if any, reasons not to go vegetarian (See “Why Go Vegetarian?”). Looking back on my life before being a vegetarian, I can’t even imagine how I could have ever eaten meat. I can’t even remember what went through my mind.
I realize now that the culture I grew up in only served to reinforce meat eating whether it was fast food TV commercials, old health education classes about the four food groups or just the simple habit and repetition of eating meat every day. With these powerful influences, it’s no wonder that many people never even contemplate the act and effects of eating meat. In our modern world, the killing of animals for food is done for us out of our sight and consciousness. People see meat only as “clean” food units without being confronted with the fact that it was once a living being.
I hope that this site will help you to consider the benefits of reducing the amount of meat in your diet or at least help you learn something that you didn’t know before.