Thursday, July 18, 2013

How to Defend Being a Vegetarian to Your Midwest, Meat-Loving, Family

Sometimes talking about being a vegetarian to a meat lover can be like talking about religion to a person who has very different views.  Thus, I normally try to avoid it but sometimes it’s unavoidable, like when my meat loving family (besides Rach) decides to tell me I should eat meat again. Sometimes they even like to tease me about it. I usually just sit there and take it. Sometimes it’s best to just ignore the comments but if people are going to give me a hard time about being a vegetarian, I’m at the point where I at least want to be able to defend myself. Maybe instead of me having to just suck it up and take it, I can defend myself with some hard facts, possibly causing my meat loving family and friends to just not bring it up anymore.

(If you’re reading this and you eat meat- please take no offense as I’m not judging you at all. I just want to give my vegetarian friends some info the could use to defend themselves when certain people make fun of them for not eating meat)

1)      Albert Einstein was a vegetarian and he was really smart.
 “Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.”
- Albert Einstein

2)      Pigs are emotional, sensitive, and extremely smart!
Pigs are actually one of the most intelligent species in the world even though they are rarely painted in this light. They’re more emotional and intelligent than a dog. Could you imagine eating something as loyal and loving as your dog? They even have the mental capacities of a three year old human! Pigs, when trained, can do all kinds of tricks and tasks.  They love to play and can get very curious. Pigs can also experience fear and sadness. They can very well feel all the pain, physically and emotionally, humans cause them.

                Cows have feelings too. They respond better when they are given an individual name and even like some people better than others.
                For me, the last thing I ever want to do is cause another living, emotional creature pain, and it’s why I became a vegetarian. For more on this subject here’s some good article to start with:
             James Cromwell, lead character of the movie Babe, has this to say:
“To deny an animal its right to self-determination, its right to live out its life as it chooses in its natural habitat, that is an aggression; it’s an aggression against the planet and all other sentient beings.”

3)      One of the biggest things meat eaters tell me is that human bodies were designed to eat meat.
That’s a load of garbage.
         I will compare myself to a mountain lion-
              At the end of my long fingers that are great for picking fruits and veggies are fingernails, not claws. While I can certainly make a scratch on skin with my fingernails, there is no way my finger nails are capable of tearing into another body.
               Then there's my teeth and mouth. My mouth is quite small compared to a mountain lion and there is no way I can open it was wide as a mountain lion. I certainly can’t fit the whole neck of an animal in there or crack any bones with my mouth.  As for my teeth, they’re great for smashing fruits and veggies (again, not bones). If I tried to dig my teeth into raw animal flesh, the animal would probably be laughing at me. Mountain lions have sharp long teeth. You can even see these teeth sticking out of a closed mouth. I’m pretty sure I don’t have that as I think I would be considered a vampire.

                Even my intestines lack resemblance to a mountain lion. My intestines, like all herbivores, are nice and long. A mountain lion has short intestines to quickly get rid of the rotting flesh of animals that’s in its stomach.  Additionally, while a mountain lion is okay eating fresh meat, I would get extremely sick eating any raw meat. My body would want nothing to do with it.
                Lastly there is my mind which is built to care about other living things. A mountain lion’s brain isn’t built to care about eating animals for food, but my mind cares for other animals. If a person, like me, isn’t able to kill the animal and prepare it himself/herself, it’s probably a good sign that he/she wasn’t meant to eat meat

4)      One HUGE reason it’s good to be a vegetarian is for the environment.  
         Livestock is one of the biggest causes of global warming.
               First of all, there is methane which is 72 times more potent than CO2! If everyone stopped eating meat, the world would be much better for it. Then there of course is the deforestation to grow feed for livestock, the transportation and refrigeration of meat, and the processing of meat, all of which accounts for making livestock a huge cause of global warming. Meat production also uses tons of water and other resources that could be used for much better causes.
         Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang wrote a great article for World Watch that started off like this:

Whenever the causes of climate change are discussed, fossil
fuels top the list. Oil, natural gas, and especially coal are indeed
major sources of human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide
(CO2) and other greenhouse gases(GHGs).But we believe that
the life cycle and supply chain of domesticated animals raised
for food have been vastly underestimated as a source of GHGs,
and in fact account for at least half of all human-caused
GHGs. If this argument is right, it implies that replacing livestock
products with better alternatives would be the best strategy for
reversing climate change .In fact, this approach would
have far more rapid effects on GHG emissions and their
atmospheric concentrations—and thus on the rate the climate is warming—
than actions to replace fossil fuels with
renewable energy.

5)      Meat is just not all that healthy for us.
          The more meat you eat, the more at risk you will be for heart disease- the number one killer of women. Red meats and processed meats are high in saturated fat which raises cholesterol. If you’re a vegetarian you will also be less likely to have some cancers, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.                            What makes meat really unhealthy now more than ever is all the hormones injected in livestock. The hormones in meat are affecting human hormones, thus negatively affecting the way human bodies work. These extra hormones can possibly cause certain cancers, weight gain, early puberty, etc.
I know this is a touchy subject, so I’ll stop there for this one. J


6)    Sage Canaday has been a lifelong vegetarian and he’s one of the fastest ultra/ mountain runners out there.

           I know I could go on an on about this but that would make for a little bit of a boring post. However, I really encourage you to do your own research on this as knowledge really is power, especially when you're trying to defend being a vegetarian to your Midwest, meat-loving, family.

 "If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian."
- Linda and Paul McCartney


  1. I had to laugh at this one in an I get you kind of way. I'm not vegetarian, but we don't normally eat a lot of meat (mostly fish). We decided to experiment with going vegetarian this week to see if we could make the switch. We are visiting my parents in Western Pennsylvania this weekend, and I was bracing myself with how to tell them that we weren't eating any meat this week.

    1. Glad to hear that Heather. I was hoping the title would at least get some laughs!Have a great time in PA and good luck explaining giving up meet for a week. (That's a great idea btw):)

    2. Thought I would update that it was quite hysterical attempting to order a steak salad with no steak at the local Midwestern small town restaurant. The waitress just couldn't get the concept that I only wanted the salad stuff, and then we answered 50 questions with our family about why we weren't eating meat. Anyway, we are enjoying our 'experiment' so much that we are heading into week 2 with it.

    3. Lol... see trying to be a vegetarian for a bit is at least entertaining! :)

  2. Sandi,

    I really enjoy alot of your posts but this has been my favorite so far. I agree with you on many of the points you make and also know how hard it is to talk about especially since I am from Texas. But being vegetarian for over 1.5 years is a since of pride for me and has helped me lose 170lbs along the way. I really enjoy the pictures, posts and information from you and "speedy" sage. Continue to write please as it is wonderful to experience your journeys through your work. Happy Trails.

    1. Thanks so much for your comments Rob. That's really awesome to be a vegetarian in Texas. Sage and I were a little surprised with some of out meals in and around San Antonio as we learned they like to put meat in things we didn't expect there. :) Way to lose 170 lbs! That really inspiring.

  3. Great explanation Sandy! Thanks for putting it all down in easy to explain points. I am vegetarian and work in the agricultural industry. Co workers just cannot comprehend not eating meat. Lunch out can be hilarious... "you mean you just ordered a taco salad with no shell and veggies? That's like... Veggies on veggies!!!" My reply- " yes it's delicious, you should try it!" I love how I feel eating this way. I love how my body seems to have "clicked" in all aspects. Great post! Happy trails and happy painting! Susan

    1. Thanks! That's another great bonus of being a vegetarian- you feel better physically and mentally! :)

  4. Thank you for making this post... I have recently decided I am not OK consuming meat from animals who were treated inhumanely in the process. It will be an adjustment but your post is encouraging. Thank you!

  5. Hey! Great to see a post on vegetarianism!:)
    I have been a vegetarian all my life and will continue to be so!
    So many people have forced me to eat non veg but wen I look at the meat,I only hear the animals scream and imagine the blood when being slaughtered..I'm a Hindu and we worship every animal and do not believe in taking their life..
    We do not want to make our belly a graveyard for animals,do we?;)


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