Why Are You A Vegetarian?

Probably the most common question I get when I meet new people and tell them I don’t eat meat.

It all started for health reasons. In 2008 I was working on a feature film in the Visual Effects department and was inhaling everything that came my way. “Would you like the fish, chicken or steak? Yes.” After about a month on set gorging myself I decided that I needed to make a change to be healthier for the duration of the shoot. I had toyed with vegetarianism a few times in the past for a week or two at the most and thought that would be a good place to start. So I cut out meat for the remainder of production.

That was about six weeks until we went into post (the finishing of the film). I was feeling good and it wasn’t that difficult so I decided to keep going until the movie was done and ultimately go for a year. Over the course of that year I had a lot of interesting conversations with meat fanatics (most of my friends) as well as vegetarian comrades. I was fascinated by the number of different reasons people had for being vegetarian (the animals, health, the environment, being more hipster, etc.) and how passionate people were about their meat. This topic was going to require more investigating.

The first book that expanded my view of vegetarianism beyond the health realm was Diet For A Small Planet. My dad had a copy of this book and he brought it up when I declined the turkey at Thanksgiving that year. It had a lot of interesting statistics about meat production and how it affects the environment in negative ways. The main stat that stuck with me is that the amount of food that a cow needs to eat to generate enough meat to feed one person could feed 15 people. These are cows that are fed soy and corn products, not those that are grass fed. Pretty compelling statistic. It also went into the destruction of the land, inefficiencies of the process and other ecological issues associated with modern meat production.

At this point my reasoning expanded from just health to be more about the environment and sustainability issues around eating meat. That’s still the core reason for me.

After a year of being vegetarian the only thing I really missed was sushi so I decided to add fish back into my diet. I cooked it at home a handful of times, but it made eating out and going to parties and other social events a lot easier. However, after doing some more homework in the last few months I’ve decided to go back to being a straight vegetarian because the process of bringing fish to the plate is just as much an issue as chicken, beef, or pork.

What started as an experiment became my way of life. It’s opened up the world of cooking to me which has become a serious passion of mine leading to the launch of this blog. This is very much still a fluid issue in my mind and I keep an open mind. I try not to be too strict to the point of starvation or beating myself up if I do decide to have a piece of fish at a nice restaurant by the ocean or a piece of meat at an expensive dinner where all the meat is local, organic, grass fed, etc.

Why are you a vegetarian? Have any questions for me? Let me know in the comments!

photo courtesy of xurble
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