This week is my 17 year anniversary as a vegetarian!
Seventeen years ago my 6th grade English teacher randomly assigned me to the "pro-animal rights" group in a debate assignment. Our group decided to eat vegetarian for the week of the debates to show dedication and, thus, a good grade. But then our group's debate got pushed back until after Thanksgiving. I decided to stick it out over the holiday.
As I learned more and more about not just the ethics of eating meat, but also the environmental and health benefits of a meatless diet, I couldn't imagine eating meat again. And after surviving Thanksgiving dinner in Texas as a vegetarian, I figured that I could do this long term.
It's funny that after blogging for 3 years I don't think I've ever written about why I became vegetarian/vegan (or maybe I have and I just forgot?). Last week a friend asked why I was vegan and it really made me stop and think. I used to say that I became vegetarian for health, environmental and ethical reasons. But when it comes down to it, I think ethics is why I don't eat meat. The health and environmental reasons are compelling, but really- Eating one bite of meat isn't going to ruin my health or kill the earth. But I still wouldn't do it.
My rationale is that it's not right for me to eat meat because I couldn't kill an animal for food. I just don't think I could do it. It would ruin me emotionally. Hell, I can't even watch Bambi or Old Yeller. And if I can't kill an animal myself, I shouldn't do it. Now, that doesn't mean that it's not right for you...This is just my philosophy.
As for the dairy and eggs- I could probably milk a goat after its kids have eaten or raise chickens for eggs myself. And I know there are some farms that are super sustainable and respect their animals more than those huge CAFOs (concentrated animal feed operations). But after 7 years of being vegan, I know that I don't really NEED those foods. I'm admittedly less dedicated in spirit to the vegan diet than the vegetarian diet, but I'm okay with that. My health has improved so much since cutting out these foods that it makes sense to keep it up!
So that's my story...and I'm sticking to it.