Monday, September 22, 2008

Save the Vegetarian Save the World

Maggie Q for PETAI became a vegetarian (lacto-ovo, thank you very much and don't dare bang on me about Vegan versus any other vegetarian choices) about six months ago. My decision to stop eating meat was based purely upon my desire to improve my health and maintain a healthy weight. I found a number of unexpected health improvements and other side benefits but won't go into them here and now.

I am constantly amused at the negative and knee-jerk reactionary behaviors some people display when they find out I am vegetarian. I am baffled why so many appear to be offended or put off by my choice and some are even downright insulting and condescending. I can't tell you the number of times alleged friends and family members have tried to belittle me for not eating meat and suggest such stupidity as I am less of a man (or human!) because I have made this choice. Others actually have interpreted and treated me as if I were weaker in personality or physical ability than a meat eater. To see bigotry and discrimination based solely upon food choice was an eye opener for me and something I deal with on a daily basis.

There are actually good environmental reasons for becoming vegetarian even though I was totally unaware of these when I made my decision. Discovering these Earth benefits only reinforces my resolve to remain a vegetarian and tell others about it. Many people picture vegetarians as being tie-dye wearing, tree hugging, old hippie in a Greenpeace or PETA t-shirt. Many environmentalists are vegetarians but not hippie-fied, in any sense. No, I am not ranting that becoming a vegetarian or Vegan will put an end to global warming but I am saying maybe more of us should look to the positive impact the lifestyle has on our world and our health.

It is a matter of statistics and logic, really. The production of meat for food creates more pollution of our air and water and manifests a larger carbon footprint than does vegetable for food farming. Of course, that carbon footprint can be reduced even further by consuming locally grown foods for a plant-based diet. Good for the economy and the environment! I am talking benefits beyond the reduction of greenhouse gases and methane emissions. Let's talk depletion of our natural and vital rainforests, land usage and petroleum consumption, and more as proven in recent United Nations reports.

Also, consider new studies by researchers at the University of Chicago and the Environmental Protection Agency which show a vegetarian diet does more to reduce your individual carbon footprint than does driving a hybrid car. Did you know that fully a third of all fossil fuels produced in the United States go to animal production for food?Mixed Veggies And, the amount of water it takes to produce meat for food in the United States is greater than all other water consumption combined. With the energy and water needed to produce just one single hamburger, you could drive a small car twenty miles and take a very long hot shower every day for two and a half weeks straight!

The sad thing is that many meat eaters will read this and say, "So the eff what?!?" and shove another fork full of steak in their mouths. Their choice. Just as it is my choice not to do that and to continue to find ways to improve my planet and my life for the betterment of everyone. Even those who don't care or think I am stupid to want to leave this Earth a better place than when I entered it.

Eff 'em all and pass the potatoes.


Anonymous said...

Go the veggie choice!! Well done, congratulations.
It is amazing how many people feel personally threatened by another individual's dietary choices. Even if you say nothing other than 'I'm a vegetarian' they get defensive, often quite emotionally and aggressively so, as if you've openly disparaged their morality or personal hygiene or something.

I theorize often over why this is so. The most obvious possible reason is that these people know killing things for food, now that we have such an abundance of healthy alternative protein sources really is morally unsound and they are subconsciously sensitive about it, even if no-one actually mentions it.

The other time people display such over reaction is in the case of addiction, when the substance one is addicted to, or the addictive behavior is brought into question or threatened in some way. It's just a theory, but it does have an amazing behavioral correlation. The addict perceives the non addict as a threat, even when no such threat has been displayed.

Just like the smokers used to give the ex-smoker a hard time, just for having the temerity to quit, and be happy about being free of the neurologically enslaving capacity of nicotine. Perhaps meat is in some way addictive, and until you give it up you are controlled by the subconscious disire to keep eating it, and the guilt associated with what that entails.

'But I just love it so much, I could never give it up" is the refrain of addicts everywhere, as they struggle to justify a behavior that is unhealthy for them, and usually for those around them in some way or another. How is meat really that different?

There are very few places left on Earth where the population is truly dependent solely on meat as a source of sustainance, a few indigenous populations at most. Millions, in fact are starving because the wealthy nations desire for meat is depriving them of affordable food of any sort by using 70% of the worlds grain crop to feed their animals. So industrialized meat production is taking food from the poorest to provide excess protein to the wealthy.

Engaging in unethical behavior to support one's habit, then denying it, is also one of the hallmarks of addiction.

It's just a thought, but one that bears scrutiny.

Doodface said...

It is human nature to judge that which you do not agree with. I for one like to go vegetarian for a couple of weeks a year, somewhat like a "Cleanse". However, I DO think that humans are meant to eat meat (why else would we have canines and a digestive system built to digest meat?). There are pros and cons to each side of the vegetarian arguement.

As far as the "save the planet" mentality, it seems that meat is pretty low down the list of planet killers.

I also have seen vegetarians crave a steak, or a burger, and comment on how they're not allowed to eat that.. News flash: You're a grown-up , and can eat whatever you want.

As far as the "ex-smokers" comment above, it is quite the opposite. Ex-smokers (like ex-meat eaters) are almost always for more judgemental, and seem to have a self-satisfied superiority about them. This is another thing that breeds hostility. If you don't want to eat meat, fine. But don't try to convert me, or judge me for eating tasty flesh.

Everyone gets flack for their life choices (Foods they eat, drinking, cigars, etc.). Maybe we should all stop judging each other, and stop making snide comments about other people's choices that do not affect us? I think politicians could stand to follow that rule as well...

EuroYank - Virginia Hoge said...

Tony normally I would say something like ... "You are what you eat why not just go total FRUIT,?" but I am not going to say that because there is a lot of meat in fruit!

Bonez said...

~ JamGirl ~ Thank you for visiting Bonez and for participating by leaving such a well thought out and fervent comment. However, I do not agree with some of your theories. Primarily the ones concerning potential guilt some meat eaters may feel for the killing of animals for food. Nope. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that is probably never an issue with 99.999% of the world's meat eating population. Why? Primarily because most are comfortably numb to the process that brings their food to their plates. It isn't like it was in "the old days" when families raised a majority of their own food or hunted and killed it themselves. Now meat is primarily just shrink wrapped product in beautiful stores and the average person is so far removed from the original "kill" that they are oblivious that the chunk of flesh they pass under the register scanner was once a warm blooded living breathing creature that was most likely abused it's entire life and inhumanely slaughtered. Oh, and let's don't go to where they may be reminded that ground meat products may contain "parts" of dozens if not tens of dozens of separate individual animals as well as other gross nasties that often accidentally end up in the grinders.

Whew! Wasn't thinking of going there but hey, it's where I was led in thought so 'eff 'em if they are caused to think instead of ignore.

I believe there is proof that there are at least psychological addictions to meat and animal fats. However, I don't think the addiction may be the controlling factors to keep people "addicted to meat". It is purely a choice based upon the available evidence and knowledge they have. If they so choose to continue to eat meat after becoming aware of what their actions mean to the planet and their fellow humans then so be it. That is their choice and they have every right to do so as they see fit for their own bodies and consciousness. Just as I have the right to my opinions and actions on the matter and hope that my choices balance or even counters theirs.

No, I don't look at it as it being an "us against them" but as a personal conviction and "insight" into a way I personally may help humankind as a whole and assist in active healing our planet in the process.

Yes, JamGirl, you present some very interesting points to ponder and hopefully will at least open the dialogue with some who would not have considered the impact of their actions or even WHY they actually continue to consume meat at all.

Bonez said...

~Doodface ~ Thanks for your comments and support of Bonez. I like your work over at Omniphobic (free plug!).

I found it interesting that you start your comments with the fact you actually consider a vegetarian diet "cleansing" (thus healthy alternative?). As for our bodies being structured to eat meat... well, that in itself is definitely a very weak argument since our bodies have lots of little things that human evolution has made redundant or obsolete. Historically, a majority of the human race has subsisted primarily on fruits, grains and vegetables versus meat. Meat has always been "expensive" just as it is today more expensive per calorie than other food choices. Only in more recent times has meat consumption risen to the levels in which it is considered by so many to be the primary source of protein and fats. Americans are the highest meat eaters globally and that most likely comes from our "meat and tators" background most of us grew up with.

Yes, we are omnivores and can live on a wide variety of food sources. However, that ability was an evolutionary process to ensure better chances of survival no matter what food sources were available and not to choose meat as the primary food source. Only my opinion and we know that opinions are like anal sphincters.

I also disagree with you on meat being low on the list of "planet killers". Recheck some of the reports and facts about the raising, processing and delivery of meat for food and the amount of petroleum fuels and water used. They are astonishing numbers but I agree, they are not the planet killers in and of themselves and I am not even remotely going to try and convert you to my way of thinking or eating. I respect your choice and leave your choices up to your own conscious.

Being an ex-smoker myself I understand the "self-satisfied superiority about them". Quitting smoking is indeed a huge accomplishment for self-betterment and should be encouraged. Just as doing other things to salvage or improve one's health. Like deciding... just for them... that becoming or being a vegetarian (no matter which form it takes) is their choice to self-improvement.

Again, I agree, we should not judge one another but should respect our individuality and leave hostility out of it altogether.

Bonez said...

I don't know what kind of fruit you've been eating, EuroYank, but I don't want any of it (grin). Thanks for visiting and supporting Bonez and interacting with such meaningful and insightful commentary. I appreciate your work spreading the Truth over at your great site EuroYank New World Order Reports. Keep it up and keep coming back...

Mrs. Hall said...

I had been a vegatarian for five years.

I still attempt to get back on the wagon.

Sometimes I am successfull, sometimes no.

Either way, both my kids are boca burger fans.

and hummus fans too!


Mrs. Hall

Bonez said...

Both of my sons have taken up the vegetarian lifestyle after watching me for a few months. Both report substantial weight loss, increased energy, better sleep, and a sense of wellbeing the didn't have before.

Ole Blue The Heretic said...

I have tried to go vegetarian but I was also working out heavily so it did not work out well for me.

What are the benefits that you have noticed?

Bonez said...

Depends on what you wish to achieve in your workouts. I know lots of vegetarian athletes who are quite successful. If you incorporate dairy and eggs (the lacto-ovo) then you have even more protein sources available for you. Of course, if you are going for pure bulk then you would need to incorporate protein powders and such... possibly... I am definitely no expert on that matter.

Some of the benefits I noticed are:
Weight loss/balancing of about 20 pounds over three months time.
Improved skin and complexion
Improved sleeping and rest
Improved disposition
Lessened allergies and reactions
Improved bowel movements
Increased energy
Less bad breath and oral hygiene issues
Healthier hair and nails
... to name a few...

Lisa Wines said...

I had a really inspiring college professor who used vegetarianism as a topic to teach logic and debate. So, I learned a lot and as a result became a vegetarian and stayed one for about 7 years. I got so much flack from my family. It was unbelievable. I have a niece who has been a vegetarian since early high school, and I'm proud of her for sticking to her guns. I'm back to carnivoring (it sounds bad, doesn't it? Like whoring. hehe), but you never know what changes I might make. :-)