Wednesday, November 21, 2007

it's tofurkey time!

thanksgiving in 2000 was the last time i chose to eat meat. it's kind of crazy to think that i have been vegetarian now for 7 years. and while i have softened my stances on most subjects political and ethical, choosing to not eat meat is one thing that has remained constant and unflinching in my personal actions and views. during my early 20's i had a political fire lit under me. i was extremely liberal, idealistic and angry about not only the way our government dealt with issues both abroad and domestically, but also the way many people just went along with everything, never questioning what the government was doing. well eventually i realized there was not much i could actually do. i know, that sounds awful, but it was true. i was tired of arguing with right-winged idiots about the war, all of the anger burned out and i became much more indifferent to all of the shit.

it seems a little inconsequential compared to wars, corrupt governments, food and water shortages, other awful things, but being vegetarian is something tangible to me. it's something that i have direct control over (except for the time i accidentally ate crab dip at the rivetti christmas party). it hasn't been much of a struggle for me, like my parents probably assumed it would be. my reasons for being vegetarian remain sort of the same as when i started 7 years ago.

- i love animals, and while i used to love eating turkey sandwiches, hamburgers, etc. i no longer think of animals as food. there are many excellent meat substitutes as well as other good forms of protein available in every grocery store due to the growing number of vegetarians. i just could not justify killing an animal when it is not necessary...and it's not. we are not living in a world where humans need to eat animals in order to survive, and if it's not necessary, i would obviously rather go the route that didn't involve killing an animal. while the animals are living, many live very painful lives in horrible conditions.also, most of the animals that we eat are cute and smart. seriously...pigs are like big dogs. having a pet like jessie has given me a new appreciation for animals in general. although i don't ever like hearing the standard vegetarian question "would you eat meat if you had to kill the animal yourself?", it is something i think about whenever some meat eater is eating something that looks appetizing to me.

environmental - animals take up a lot of space. they need to graze. we breed them at abnormal rates. in order to handle all of this, a lot of open area must be used and forests are cut down. i forget the exact numbers, but basically the land, water and food used for breeding animals could be used to grow vegetables and grains that could feed everyone and end starvation. the large amount of animals housed on these farms also generate a lot of methane which contribute greatly to the destruction of the ozone. the runoff from their waste is getting into our waterways, polluting our water.

personal health - admittedly, this was one aspect that barely concerned me 7 years ago. i considered it more of a positive side effect. now, as i become more health-conscious, it matters more to me. ideally, eat lots of plants and vegetables, while still making sure to eat sufficient plant-based protein. staying away from meats means you eat less saturated fats, lower your cholesterol, your risk for many types of cancers and a whole bunch of other health perks. i guess for a while i somehow managed to be an unhealthy vegetarian. i am working at getting better about that, staying vegetarian, but eating a more balanced diet, not just a lot of empty carbs.

so that about breaks down why i am vegetarian. it hasn't been too tough, though i have been tempted. i hope to continue this for a while, but there are moments, where i consider trying things like raw sushi. i am interested in the health benefits of eating fish. while i was not a big seafood fan before, i think that my sense of taste has evolved and matured over the years to the point where i would enjoy eating fish. i dunno. we'll see.

this thanksgiving, i will eat my green bean casserole, potatoes and possibly some tofurkey and be happy that i am doing something that i think is right; good for me, the planet and many animals, and also be proud that i have stuck with something that would be so easy to give up for so long.

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