I am an omnivore. I love medium- rare Fillet Mignon, crispy double-fried chicken, and any fish cooked in any fashion. But I love vegetables too. Give me a generous heap of sauteed any vegetables with a bowl of rice and I’m set for the course.
No, not just these clams but also the recent revelation of yet another animal cruelty case on a dairy farm in Ohio. And learning about the horrible meat processing, egg, and dairy industries, watching documentaries like Food Inc. and reading books like Omnivore’s Dilemma.
Don’t worry. You won’t find me chained to a radical group of people, doused in some fake blood, protesting about animal cruelty or criticize you for eating meat. But I cried when I saw these videos and I have to warn you, they are graphic.
And remember this video from the Hy-Line Egg Hatchery – the biggest egg hatchery and egg producer in the U.S – about the way they treat male chicks?
Since these videos were released, the 25 year old worker in Ohio Dairy Farm was arrested and convicted with 12 counts of animal cruelty and Hy-Line Egg hatchery admitted that there was a problem in its Iowa factory.
I have heard stories like these, many many times in the past, but was not ready to commit to stop eating meat. I always rationalized in my head, “Well, these are exceptions to the rule. There are humane ways to treat animals for consumption. Right?” But are there? Are there humane ways to KILL an animal? The act of killing an animal, besides euthanasia for medical purposes, is not humane, isn’t it? Even clams like above that didn’t appear to be alive (because of lack of faces on the surface) are nothing but dead. When given the chance, they poke their mouths and feet out of their shells to breath and move around in water.
So, I made a hard decision last weekend. I wanted to see if I can live without eating animal meat. I had stored the many logical reasons to cut down on meat consumption in the back of my mind, but this time, I wrote them down. Here are the short list of reasons why I wanted to cut animal meat from my diet.
- Animal welfare – reduce my involvement in causing animal suffering.
- Health – reduce bad fat intake (animal fats) but increase good fat (plant fats) intake and lower the risk of heart disease as well as hypertension, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. Read more here.
- Help the environment. raising cattle for food causes enormous amount of greenhouses gases, causing global warming. I posted about the environmental harm in raising cattle and the Meatless Monday movement last year here.
- Get more nutrition. In general, though not necessarily, being a vegetarian can replace meat with more nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains. And contrary to the myth that vegetarians lack iron and B12, they obtain more than enough iron and B12, from leafy green vegetables.
- Less chance of food poisoning. – many of the meat processing plants as well as slaughterhouses are the main culprits of salmonella and E. Coli outbreaks. If I don’t eat meat, I will have a less chance of being victims of being in contact with those dangerous bacteria. Of course, there is always a chance of cross contamination but at least, the direct contact from eating tainted animal meats will be eliminated.
So, to be true to my word, I started to post the date number on my facebook wall for each day I didn’t eat meat, like a smoker who tells the whole world about quitting smoking. (Jenn and Erin: there’s your answer to my cryptic numbers )
Although I consumed more vegetables than meat, even before I made this decision, it feels “permanent” since it’s “official”. I am also perplexed as to how extreme I should be with not eating meat products. I am not eating eggs currently but eggs from free roaming chickens should be ok, right? Ah, but are they being fed organic grains and not GMO’s? So many things to consider…..still.
Currently, I feel no difference, physically….just that I am always thinking about what to eat even more so…since I can’t just pick up a Hamburger for lunch or nonchalantly make Spaghetti with Meatballs for dinner. I am constantly thinking about what to cook that doesn’t involve meat. And since I am not forcing my family to convert with me, I am definitely planning our meals more carefully than usual. It’s a challenge but it’s a welcome challenge.