the great [meat] debate

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.”  ~ Henry Beston

I heard the above quote in a news clip I caught in an article this evening and I just find it to be such an incredibly beautiful and eloquently written passage; it gives me the chills.

Perfect segue into my topic for today . . . about why I’ve chosen to become a vegetarian after 30 years of enjoying (thoroughly enjoying) being a carnivore . . . that quote truly embodies the reason I felt it so important to change the way I eat.

I have always always been an animal lover, it’s hardwired in my DNA . . . I grew up with dogs, cats, horses and the occasional goat or two.

this is me with my pony, Foxy Lady, and Greta the Goat in 1988.

Growing up on acreage in the country, where from time to time my parents would contemplate getting into other forms of livestock . . . perhaps raising cattle? And the discussion would always end with us agreeing how the cows, too, would become beloved members of the family and you just don’t take beloved members of the family off to slaughter. (Needless to say, we never had any cows.)

Stories about any sort of animal suffering have always made me sick, I can’t hear about it and watching it in movies today I simply repeat over and over in my head: “it’s not real, it’s not real, it’s not real.”

I remember crying for a week solid after watching the movie Black Beauty as a child. I cried for another week following that, when I decided I was going to own gold fish and named them all after the horses in Black Beauty. But, those fish all died one after another within days when I failed to realize you had to dechlorinate tap water. I was a mess!

(I could go on and on and on with stories about me and my connections to animals. And how I feel about them. But, for the sake of sounding like this girl, I shall refrain and stop there!)

Anyway, despite my deep affection for animals, I’ve ironically never once thought twice when snarfing down a steak, burger, chicken fingers, or any other sort of meat product.

Until now.

Like I mentioned last month, I watched Food, Inc. I’ve heard a lot of my friends have strong reactions, but I’ve never had a queasy stomach about food (I eat cold hot dogs right out of the packet and I follow a very liberal 5 second rule) so I didn’t anticipate the movie would affect me in any way.

Well, I was wrong.

Very wrong.

Aside from an attempted bite or two of a sausage biscuit from McDonald’s and a bacon, egg and cheese Hot Pocket (neither of which I could stomach or finish) I haven’t touched any red meat, poultry or any sort of the other white meat for over a month now.

The movie essentially had me in such a state of disgust, I’m not even sure I properly took in the whole message, all I could think was, “I’m eating WHAT?!?” “My meat came from WHERE?!” “The animals were treated HOW?!”

The idea of eating meat just makes me sick to my stomach right now. I’m not against it and I’m 100% certain I will eventually eat it again someday. I haven’t turned entirely crazy here. But, it’s incredibly important to me to better understand the source of meat and I don’t think I’ll ever again be able to eat meat that I don’t trust comes from a reputable source, from a source who at least treated the animals with care and dignity and doesn’t take for granted the nutrients the animal is providing.

So, in a nut shell, that’s how I was scare-tactic-ed into becoming a vegetarian. But, since quitting meat (and among other lifestyle changes) I’ve lost weight, been less stressed, less fatigued, and have felt a better overall sense of well being. In being more thoughtful about what I am choosing to eat, I also feel I’m respecting my body in a way I never have and I simply feel more present with myself.

Anyway, at the very least, now you’ll know the next time we’re out to eat together . . . that, no, I don’t want to try a bite of your steak and please don’t put a piece of your chicken on my plate. Unless you’d like me to tell you where it came from :).


  1. I was really moved by Food Inc too but not in the same way I guess. I took out of it that I should be buying organic whenever possible, free-range, grass fed products. I need to work on getting a freezer so we can look into buying our meat from local farmers.

  2. How about fish?

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