Disclaimer :: This post is in no way meant to put down those who eat meat (D still does!) nor convince others not to eat meat (although I'd love you forever if you said I convinced you!). These words are meant to merely explain why I chose this lifestyle.
Back when D and I lived in Athens, I began getting interested in vegetarianism. I have some friends who are vegetarian, and the idea interested me. My first order of business was read and research. In 2009 (!!), I read The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter. The authors, Peter Singer and Jim Mason, do a wonderful job of breaking things down. It's evident that they did their research. The descriptions and imagery of slaughter houses and living conditions of animals was appalling. That stuck with me. While this book changed my perspective and outlook on eating meat, I still wasn't ready give up
sausage bacon meat. D and I did start doing an annual "No Meat January," but it was more of a health initiative. Nonetheless, those words always hung in the back of my mind whenever I would eat meat.
After moving to Raleigh in 2011, I was continually aware of what I was eating. I stopped eating most chicken (unless I bought it from Whole Foods) but couldn't deny my love for bacon and sausage. The guilt, those slaughterhouses and killing of animals that never got to live a real life, always lingered in my mind. I kept reading and doing research until I finally made my decision.
In January 2012, I decided to take on a flexitarian lifestyle. I've heard this term thrown around before. I don't follow a strict no-meat or fish-only diet. My vegetarian rule is to "not eat any animal raised for slaughter." More specifically, I eat fish and venison (hunted in the wild by D's dad). After my research, this was what worked for me. This was the choice I could live with and not feel guilty.
Personally, I couldn't come to terms with pigs, cows, and chickens being killed for me. These animals are all smarter than most people think. They have a sense of family (I use that term loosely) and definitely have feelings (just in a different way than humans do). Morally, eating animals feels wrong to me. To be honest, I still struggle with buying dairy products as most are made from cows living in the same terrible conditions I read about (the research regarding baby calves to maintain mother cow's milk production is heart wrenching).
Since I love food and travel, my only "free-for-all" times are beer dinners and traveling. Why beer dinners? Chefs take special time in preparing dishes that pair perfectly with specific beers. I want to have that full experience (not to mention most vegetarian substitutions are not paired appropriately or consist of my nemesis, bell peppers). Why traveling? I still deserve to be able to try traditional, well-known, or renowned dishes within the areas I travel to. To never be able to try a Philly cheesesteak? An NYC hotdog (although I haven't!)? In-N-Out burgers? Blasphemy. Do I go on a crazy meat binge when I travel? Nope, but I don't deny myself or feel guilty if meat creeps into the mix.
No matter what the benefits of the Paleo diet, I don't think that guilt would leave me (at least not for longer than a brief trip).
So tell me, are you vegetarian? Pescatarian? Flexitarian?
Why or why not?
And while I don't think I can express as wonderfully as Katie and Meghan did about being a runner and the tragedy in Boston yesterday, I'm so grateful that Alex and her family are ok. Christin couldn't have said it better, and I'm even more motivated to run a marathon because of Alex.