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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lifestyle: Making the Decision to go Vegetarian or Vegan.

Recently, I saw someone discussing becoming a vegetarian because of the mistreatment of animals...and it made me think. I have a bit of a history with vegetarianism; when I was a young teen, I went from loving meat to being disgusted by it. The flavor, the texture...it became, quite suddenly, too much for me. I stopped eating all manner of meat immediately and sort of haphazardly ate whatever else was available. I had no concept of the proper nutrition for a vegetarian or how to get the necessary nutrients in my diet, and about five years later, I started craving a hamburger. I craved the hamburger for two years before I finally broke down and ate one, and after that, I was carnivorous yet again.

I've known many people who became vegetarians for the health benefits or weight loss. It is true that we, as Americans, get far too much of our protein from meat and done correctly, vegetarians can lose weight. It's a personal decision and one that I absolutely respect...no matter the reasoning. However, if your sole reason is a desire to avoid the mistreatment of animals? Well, you're fooling yourself. Becoming a vegan or fruititarian circumvents all animal cruelty, but refusing to eat meat and still eating eggs, butter, milk, ice cream, and other animal products from animals who have been mistreated, who could quite possibly be diseased...it's just as bad. Avoiding the mistreatment of animals is a wonderful thing, and something I support, but it's a bit naive to assume that cutting meat from your diet will alleviate the problem.

But there's another option.
Some families and individuals prefer not to cut out meat and animal products entirely, and fortunately, it's entirely possible to eat both and still maintain a cruelty-free diet. Eat local. Find a farm near your area that raises grass fed, organic animals who are treated humanely. You can use a website such as Local Harvest to search for such farms or you can visit the Farmer's Market and speak to the vendors there. Many local farmers are very proud of the measures that they take to ensure that the meat, eggs, and milk that they sell are from the healthiest, happiest animals possible, so feel free to ask them as many questions as you want about their methods. If you want to see for yourself, request a tour of the farm, or drop by to purchase your goods in person.

By buying local meat and dairy, you are not only ensuring that the animals were raised in a healthy, cruelty-free environment, but you're also supporting your local economy and keeping your local farmers in business. The meat, eggs, and dairy that you are eating will be of the highest quality, full of the nutrition that you need, and you can feel good about eating them.

But animal cruelty isn't the only reason for choosing a meat or animal-product free lifestyle. Sometimes health reasons are involved, other times it could be a matter of personal preference. Whatever the reason, vegetarian and vegan lifestyles can be healthy, delicious, and fulfilling...but its very important to ensure that you are still getting all of the necessary nutrients in your daily diet. There are lots of books about this that one can use, full of tips, hints, and recipes. My sister-in-law, who is vegan, loves Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet. It provides information for everyone from those who simply want to scale back their animal product consumption to those who wish to make dramatic diet changes. It's one book that can help the average vegan or vegetarian, but there are many others as well.

What's important is making the choice that is right for you, for your lifestyle, and for your convictions. Eat for your health and well-being, however that translates for you, personally.

2 comments:

  1. I love reading this post.It is what I believe in also,choosing healthier alternatives for my family.

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  2. Thank you, Alisa! That means a lot to me. I'm glad that you enjoyed it!

    ReplyDelete