Good morning! I am interested in hearing your stories about becoming vegetarian. I think it helps others considering it too.
I'll start. It's long, but that's because I'm old! lol
I never liked the taste or idea of meat.
^That should be the title of my story, really--it sums the whole thing up.
In the late 60s/early 70s, fresh vegetables and herbs were unpopular. I had never seen fresh broccoli or garlic. Vegetables were boiled until mushy and served plain. The concept that a person could nutritionally survive without meat was not only unknown--it was considered a communist plot (equivalent to an Al Qaeda plot for those of you not old enough to be familiar with the implications of such an accusation).
Despite the drowning of vegetables, I did like them somewhat but was not allowed to eat them instead of meat. You *had* to eat meat at every meal or you were going to die.
The one and only time I ever got spanked by my dad was over not eating meat. I was 4. I used to dissect the meat and ask what the various parts were. He thought if he just answered me honestly, I would stop being so suspicious. He was wrong! Telling me, "That is a vein," just put me over the top and I wouldn't eat it. I would look at our dog, then look at my own veins, and wonder why anyone would do that to an animal.
Back then, "good parents" would tell their kids what to do and they'd be punished until they did it. I frequently refused to eat meat, so they taught me how to be stubborn. I had the same plate served to me for every meal until I ate it. I fed it to the dog, hid it under the rug, threw it out a nearby window (we got rats that year), or hid pieces of it in the vase collection in the dining room. It started to stink one day and no one could figure out why!
My grandfather used to tease me for being a "picky eater" for refusing to eat the carcass at Thanksgiving. One year, he served me a plate of birdseed as a joke. Little did anyone know, had they served me salads or a plate of raw veg with dip, I would have eaten a lot. I LOVED beans, but my mom refused to cook them because she doesn't like them. That's how kids were treated back then though.
When I was in college, I was dirt poor and had a nearly nonexistent food budget. I was familiar with a dish in Jamaica made with rice and kidney beans. I ate that excessively for years, hoping I would survive until I could afford meat someday!
In my college people said there was a new belief system called veganism, which was extreme and was actually a religion centered around animal rights. I wanted nothing to do with a religion of any sort, so I stayed away.
By the time I graduated and got a job, I was no longer brainwashed about meat and I made a go of being a vegetarian, reading Diet for a Small Planet. There are some basic fallacies in that book (I now know), and the recipes were awful IMO. I tried really hard to like using soy flour to make pizza.
I liked my own made up dishes though. I started picking out 1 new fresh veg each week to try, and liked most of them. A new world opened up to me.
I tried to relate to the "vegetarian community" but could not. I am a skeptic--I use the scientific method to evaluate claims. Unfortunately, at least at that time, the "community" was obscured by false and other claims not based in fact about alternative medicine. Those things have *nothing* to do with being vegetarian. I took offense to it being called a "lifestyle".
Those things act to de-normalize the choice not to eat meat, and I hope someday they will become separated from vegetarianism in the public's mind.
Later I began dating my now husband. His parents put tremendous pressure on me for not eating meat. I decided to eat meat when I was with them just to shut them up. I had to put lots of seasonings and sauces on it to stomach it, and actively distract myself so I wouldn't gag. It all comes back to how I felt as a kid. I don't like the taste and I don't like the idea of eating animals.
Violence bothers me a lot. I can't even watch most movies in the theater. I watch them at home so I can fast fwd through the violent bits. The meat industry is at least as bad as some of those scenes!
A few yrs into our marriage, I was diagnosed with colon cancer. I had part of my colon removed. Eating meat was no longer an option--I simply cannot digest it. Dairy and eggs are a big challenge for me too and must be done in small amounts. This seemed to be an acceptable excuse to others--weird, right--vegetarianism makes others uncomfortable unless you're a cancer survivor?! I learned of a large study showing triple the colon cancer rate in meat eaters. Wow!
So my vegetarianism is here to stay.
The second time I went vegetarian it was a gradual path. I was very resistant to it because of the bad information I had of it and because I did not want to be a 'picky eater' or nuisance so I just tried really hard not to think about meat and to just eat it. In college though I learned that not only was an animal free diet okay, it may even be the best diet. The turning moment was when my roommate showed me a slaughter house video. It wasn't particularly graphic in the way of those videos, but seeing a cow die -and for what?- was all it took to trigger all the feelings I had been repressing. I think I am vegetarian by nature, it is a trait that it etched in the most core part of who I am, and it wasn't until I gave meat up the second time that I realized I had been living contrary to who I was every day that I ate animals. I carried a lot of cognitive dissonance for a long time. I think there was a chunk of sadness and guilt always with me while I ate meat that have now turned into the wonderful feeling that I am doing what is right and being who I am despite what society wants me to do.
I am sorry to hear about your cancer. I find it horrific beyond measure that information like that is kept from the public. People need to know that they can majorly reduce their risk for cancer and many other disease by eliminating animals from their diets. It feels criminal.
I have heard lots of people say this is kept from the public...but that has not been my observation?
American Cancer Society used to have a page about it. Since 07 other studies have come up with results showing increased risk, which is probably why ACS removed their page...but it was up for years.
I'd known a vegetarian or two in my time living in Austin, TX and had eaten at the only veg restaurant there at the time - this was a long time ago - so I certainly didn't mind eating a vegetarian meal if that's what was offered. In fact, growing up, my favorite meal with my family was beans and cornbread. It might still be actually. Anyway, one day some 35 years ago, I met a vegetarian woman and thought maybe it was the right thing for me. So I dove in head first. Never regretted the change and stayed vegetarian for almost 15 years. Ended up marrying the woman. We ate cheese - lots of cheese - but no eggs. My change to vegan came in the nineties.
Family is the next topic. It was difficult thinking some wouldn't accept me becoming vegetarian. At first I told my mom she didn't accept it, but i showed her what a vegetarians basic needs. After doing this we went to the doctor to understand more on vegetarianism. In the end my mom accepted that I was vegetarian.
Afterwards i only told three of my closest friends. When some the others found out they didn't get it.
I was eight and I figured killing animals was wrong so wanted to go veggie. To my shame (I'm not actually ashamed, I forgive eight year old me) it took me a few months because I LOVED chicken nuggets. One day we went out for lunch and I ordered nuggets, bit into one, was repulsed and haven't touched meat since that day.
I told this story on another thread years ago but here it is again. I grew up in cattle country. I was in 4H in horses and always felt sorry for my friends who were in 4H in cattle because they had to give up the steer or heifer that they had raised from a baby. I knew that the calves died. But it was much later, in 1990 that I was riding my horse through a friend's herd of cattle. We were looking for sick ones. We would cut them out and doctor them. As I rode along on that beautiful day, I realized that we were doctoring them so we could kill them. The thought was so ridiculous. It bothered me for days and it bothered me when I would see a cattle truck on the highway. They were death trucks. So I asked myself what I was going to do about it. The only thing I could do was quit eating any animals at all.
I was the kid who ate her vegetables without complaint but I also liked meat, particularly hamburgers. One day for a reason I don't know, I suddenly became curious about where meat came from. I think I was about 7-8 years old, anyway so I ask my mom where beef came from and she was honest and said from cows. This shocked my little mind and I started asking about other meats and she told me where they all came from. From that moment on I didn't eat any meat except for chicken and turkey. I really regret not giving those two up but for whatever reason, I was ok with eating them even though I knew exactly where they came from. So from the time that I was 7-8 until I was almost 24, I ate only chicken and turkey. I had thought about becoming a vegetarian for a while before I actually did it because I've always had a problem with bones and skin on meat and cooking it was never something I enjoyed, I was completely disgusted every time I had to cook meat. However, I just never really actually took the plunge until finally I decided to educate myself. I knew that if I watched videos about animal suffering that I would be so upset and disgusted by it that I would finally become a vegetarian, I just needed that extra push. I knew that that the industry was cruel, I just had never actually seen it.
I watched various videos and read some things and researched about nutrition and I decided that after a last meal of turkey tacos (leftovers and was the last of the meat in my apartment) that I would stop eating meat. That was three years ago today! I have never cheated, never felt any kind of urge to eat meat and I am very happy being vegetarian. Because I became a vegetarian, I have discovered that I love foods that I used to hate and I've discovered new things that I love. I love to cook and I enjoy finding new recipes and trying them out. I have even convinced my parents to eat less meat and eat healthier in general (they use almond milk instead of cow's milk for example). I literally went vegetarian overnight and haven't looked back. I can honestly say that I don't have any desire to eat meat ever again.
I am vegetarian for the animals, for my health and for the environment, the way I see it, by going vegetarian you are at least helping the animals and the environment and depending on what you eat, you are at least to some degree improving your health.
I am now working on giving up cheese and it's proving to be a very difficult thing to do, I wish that giving up cheese would be as easy as giving up meat was for me.
The reason that I ate meat in the first place was because that was what was served in my home. I had to eat it whether I liked it or not. If I was a guest in someone's home, then it would be considered impolite not to eat the meat that my host had prepared. I also thought that meat was healthy for me to eat whether I liked it or not.
On 06/25/2000 I went on a Tour De Cure 100K bike ride. The meal at the conclusion of the ride was provided by the Outback Steakhouse. After looking at what was served (it reminded me of human flesh that I had seen at a dissection at a medical school), I made the decision to never eat meat again. Subsequently, I stopped eating poultry and seafood as well, and I noticed how much better I felt. It took about a month, but now it is a habit that I will never break. I do not miss these foods at all, ever. No desire for analogue meat either.
Lots of little things made me go vegetarian… here’s the story.
I was brought up in the UK in a Hindu household where every Friday we were vegetarian. We weren’t very strict but it was something that I didn’t really have much control over as a child. The rest of the week, as a family, we usually only ate fish with perhaps chicken once a week. School dinners were a different story! So I would say my childhood household was vegetarian friendly but not oppressively so.
When I was about 7, we went back to visit my mother’s family home where they kept chicken, goats, cows etc. I distinctly remember watching the maid running around after a chicken, laughing at her and then finding chicken curry on the table for dinner. I refused to eat it but only that one time – I remained omni.
In my teens, I had a good friend who lived on a farm and we used to play with his air rifle quite a bit. One day, we were hanging out his bedroom window taking pot shots at birds. We were lousy shots so never hit anything until I got lucky and plucked a blackbird out of a tree quite far away. We rushed down and approached the bird and I picked it up. It was still warm. I felt really guilty for what I had done. I remember going to the encyclopaedia Britannica (this was pre-Wikipedia) and looking at the blackbird population in the UK – 7 million. I still remember that number.
When I went to college, I met a guy who also was brought up vegetarian on Fridays. We immediately hit it off and are still great friends to this day. I also met another guy who was brought up in a very strict religious household and although he was omni, he was as also an important part of my peer group. We read a lot on religion, morals etc and discussed it frequently. Either in the latter part of college or shortly after, my first friend stopped eating animals and only ate seafood.
Also, during the last few years of college, my Mum has surgery which led to complications and she decided to go vegetarian from thence forth (lacto-ovo) for religious/penance reasons. A few years later, my Mum dragged my Dad to India to see some “guru” and he got all starry eyed and went vegetarian also (lacto).
In 2001, I got an expat job to Malaysia and off I went. My social life consisted of DJing in one of the local clubs, drinking a lot and eating fried chicken! In the latter part of 2002, probably October/November, I had far too much to drink and went to my fried chicken joint and bought three portions. I went home, wolfed down the first one and while chomping on the second, I got the distinct feeling that I shouldn’t be doing this – I think it was the sight of the chicken leg that really made me think this was once a chicken, a living breathing thing. I still finished it though and the following morning I ate the third portion for breakfast!
In December of that year, I went to Goa in India for a holiday and was joined by my other two college buddies. There was lots of drinking, much enjoyment of the great seafood and many discussions on vegetarianism and morals. In the end, all three of us decided that we should be vegetarian so from 1st Jan 2003 we all stopped eating meat (one of them may have already stopped – I can’t remember). Interestingly we all did it for different reasons, me because I didn’t want to kill (or cause killing), another for religious reasons and the third for health based reasons. Anyway, all three of us still are vegetarian 10 years later!
I adopted a vegan diet on the 1st July 2013 (last month) after watching Forks over Knives.
I wish Michelle Obama would promote vegetarianism in her Let's Move! campaign.
Hi There :)
I became a vegetarian aged 12. I grew up on a farm in the middle of Yorkshire in England and used to treat all the animals on the farm as if they were my pets, oh yes that included over 500 pigs, 500 cows and 500 sheep together with my pet chickens (all 20 of them had names!). My mum knew I was very sensitive as I used to bring every waif and stray injured animal into the house to look after, and if it didn't make it, I used to have small ceremonies for them in a special spot in the woods, even crafted my own gravestones for each and every one.
I think to save me from myself they used to tell me the animals went on holiday when they got picked up by the "man in the van", it wasn't until one day i met the man in the van and asked him where the animals were going on holiday too this year, and in very blunt terms he told me they were going to get slaughtered. I vaguely remember having a stand off with the man with a large plank of wood aimed at his head!
Once I made the connection that those animals were what i was eating, I knew i could never eat anything with a face again, and apart from a small relapse aged 17-18, I have remained a strict vegetarian since that day (22 years and counting) and an avid hunt protester (quite an embarrassment to my dad cause most of his "pals" go hunting and they all know me rather well now) and I still pick up waifs and strays that I find, I even stopped rush hour traffic a few weeks ago as a family of frogs were crossing the road.
I love animals and I love living :)
p.s Sorry to hear about your battle with cancer, I hope you are now well and blessed with good health :)
I cut meat out of my diet and started minimizing dairy and eggs last week.
My reasons are a lot less pro-animal than those of others, since I'm not against eating meat or killing animals in itself. What it boils down to is that I felt it showed poor moral integrity to support the prosecution of people who abuse or neglect pets while also supporting an industry full of practices and uncertainties that I'm uncomfortable with as long as the meat winds up on my table. Friends I've talked to say they just try not to think about it, but I wanted to buck off the idea and prove that I don't need to pay into it if it isn't up to par in order to be healthy and eat well.
Wednesday July 31 is my clean-date for meat. Gradual withdrawal is my model for eventually approaching the 100% raw-vegan lifestyle, a mode of living which I sense will be most healthy for mind and body. Since July 31 2013 I have not eaten any poultry or meat. Currently I drink milk and eat eggs, regular food store eggs and milk, not even cage free or organic. Budgeting!
Beans, brown rice, greens, nuts, fruit and greek yogurt are the core of my nutrition now. Fish seem to be simpler organisms than chickens, pigs and cows, and some may even render special wisdom unto the eater, like dolphins and squid. (Not trolling - Just looking back culturally). Look at a bucket of live fish fresh caught on a boat. Is every fish an individual? Eskimos seem to be a compassionate people, and they eat a lot of fish. Being an athlete, I need highly bioavailable protein from some source. Grocery-store tilapia is bred in pools of its own excrement. I will not eat much Tilapia after hearing that, whether it is true or false.
Sorry for getting off topic and self-righteous there. I made it grey so its optional to read. I became vegetarian to feel better. Thanks :)
" Fish seem to be simpler organisms than chickens, pigs and cows, and some may even render special wisdom unto the eater, like dolphins and squid. (Not trolling - Just looking back culturally)"
Words fail me on that one.
Well, the short story is that I saw a few documentaries and gradually gave up meat until I was fully vegetarian.
Here's the long story:
I always really liked animals, and a few times when I was younger I became a vegetarian for like half a day. I was always a very picky eater, and didn't care for meat much by itself, but a lot of my favorite foods had meat in them and that was really the only thing holding me back. I wouldn't miss steak or pork chops or anything, but I would miss chicken noodle soup and stir-fry and other stuff like that. As I got older, I started thinking about it less, and never would have thought I would actually become a vegetarian. Then I had to take a class that focused on American culture to fulfill general requirements, and the one that I chose focused on diets in America and how our eating habits evolved. I mostly chose this class because I knew a lot about health and dieting and thought it would be an easy A since I assumed I knew most of the stuff we would be learning about. I was wrong. We learned a lot about the production of animal products, since they are a huge part of the average American diet, and watched a pro-vegetarian documentary about a slaughterhouse. It was really sad for me, and I decided I would cut back on meat. And I did. I would try to eat vegetarian a few times per week, and eventually gave up red meat for lent (I'm Catholic), though I slipped up a few times. I never really had a goal of becoming completely vegetarian though, because I thought it would be too hard to make up for protein and iron. Then in late March/early April, I got a new thing for my television that allowed me to watch netflix among other stuff, and I decided to test it out, and the first documentary I chose was 'Vegucated'. This really made me interested in becoming vegetarian because it showed that it wasn't really that difficult to be a vegan, let alone vegetarian. Then I saw 'Forks over knives' and it kind of sealed the deal. I became a pescatarian immediately and eventually gave up all actual meat. Then I gave up things with animal broth and gelatin among other things, until I was fully vegetarian. I never realized how easy it would become or how much healthier I would feel.
Looking back on this I feel really ignorant that I didn't give up meat after seeing the first documentary or even the second. I also realize that it didn't need to be such a drawn out process. But it is what it is, and I can't change the past, plus I guess the important thing is that I am a vegetarian now and am working on cutting out as many animal products as possible.
I've played with both vegetarianism and veganism for a number of years, though I've always reverted to omnivore eating out of ease/laziness and preference - I like the taste of most meat. I've always avoided talking with animal rights activists for too long, because I sensed that I was a five-minute conversation away from being converted for life and that's not something I wanted to take on necessarily, y'know?
So last month I went on a lakeside fishing trip with my dad, my nephew and two nieces. Dad grew up in Minnesota and has fished all his life; he introduced us kids to it and he's now enjoying introducing the sport to his grandkids. He eats everything he catches; no sport fishing.
So, having not been on a fishing trip for at least 30 years, I went along to supervise the girls and make sure they don't fall in the lake. Early on my niece pulls a sunfish out of the water, and I'm looking at this beautiful, colorful fish gasping for air as the hook is yanked from its mouth. Because it swallowed the hook deeply, some of its innards were pulled up when the hook comes out, and the fish was tossed in a bucket to die. Something in me just clicked - it was almost audible - and I thought to myself, I'm just not on board with killing living things to eat anymore.
Sounds trivial, but that one little moment crystallized something for me.
I suffered through that trip - thank goodness for 90-degree days, the kids didn't want to stay out long - and haven't had any meat or fish since.
I'm happy it happened with a click for you athompson, some of us are so stubborn it wont happen unless we snap, lol
Despite being buddhist and knowing I wouldnt kill my own meat, and having gone to school with several veg*n families, I never even considered going vege. Until I snapped.
My father was from a very meat and drug centered background. He never quite learned to cope with life so he spent his life trying to hide from himself- alcohol, drugs, overworking, and obsessive indulgence in vices like smoking, junk food, meat, and even an addiction to audiobooks. He was a great provider and a nice guy behind his 'flavorful' persona but him and life just never made peace, a trait so common in his family that to the best of my knowledge (and according to him) no one in the recorded history of my patrilineal descent group (male blood line) lived past 66.
My mother comes from a family where immediate pleasure was their highest goal. Her father was a doctor of pharmacy and so he knew the human body quite well, despite that he drank a lot and ate a meat based junk food diet to the extreme of not just getting diabetes but going on to go blind and die rather than manage his diet properly. Her sister has cheeseburgered herself into a wheel chair and my mother, like her mother, never even learned how to cook.
So I was raised from birth like that- pleasure and amusement were the goals and if there were problems, just be blind to them.
The origination of veggieism...
So it eventually happened that my dads health failed. Massive drug and alcohol abuse left him with no stomach, literally- they had to remove every trace of it, and thus a total inability to absorb dietary B12. Massive abuse of his dinner plate left him with severe and systemic cardiovascular disease. He often had 10 prescriptions at one time. Still he tried to hide from the situation with drugs, audiobooks, etc. Still my mother shoveled the candy bars and bacon at him because 'he should feel good'. And I was doing the same to him and myself, it was just 'natural'. By now I had lots of health problems too.
But I had a science background so, recognizing that he was slowly dying, I started reading books. I learned lots about pharmacology, nutrition, drug metabolism, disease. But I made only slight use of that- he refused to face the situation, even refusing prescribed B12 shots, and the rest of the family just wanted him to feel good. I prevented a few bad drug interactions, uncovered others, and helped in other ways as his care giver. But mostly I could do nothing and just sat there and watched him intentionally abuse himself to death. He died one month after his 66th birthday, it wasnt pretty.
So there I sat, my father- who I modeled my lifestyle after, was dead, twenty medical books were reasonably fresh in my mind, I was chronically sick as I always had been but now with cardiovascular disease too, and the rest of my family was equally unhealthy. I was the only one who seemed to realize that what happened to him, and us, had identifiable causes.
I read even more medical books.
I eventually couldnt muster up enough delusion to deny that my traditional diet of junk food, meat, no vegetables, no real fruit, and no exercise was killing me.
I quit it all.
No animal products, no junk food, no refined fats, no refined sugar, no preservatives or colors, no sweet foods that are not alive, no sweet beverages at all, fresh food cooked from scratch... every day, I even built a huge organic vegetable, beverage, and medicine garden. I actually held in there for a year, and another, and now nearing three and expanding the garden more. Digestive problems vanished long ago, cardiovascular disease vanished over the course of the first year, arthritis was finally stopped, at 33 I have stamina for the first time in my life, and I no longer have to pretend I dont know what I'm eating in order to enjoy it. And no cute little meat creatures need to die. Even if the monks are wrong and grandpa isnt a cow now, I still dont imagine I would want to be eaten if I were a cow.
I suppose all that makes me primarily a 'health vegetarian'. Thats what people tell me. There seems to be this health/ethics dichotomy.
I dont see it tho. Some day I may have a kid, or at least help raise one, and if I hadnt got my stuff together and break the family tradition of wallowing in self imposed disease and death I would have been the one to impart that to a new generation.
I finally dont feel like it would be unethical to be a father some day.
Well Ive always like animals and raised them, after awhile I thought if I would not eat my dog or cat, then what about the meat on my plate, after watching a few videos I took the plunge and and became vegetarian. Also not to mention the health benefits, and how many lifes we save. I am happy I did and I have never looked back. Thats the short version.
ive always loved animals and i have always been very picky about what i eat. i pretty much ate chicken products but no chicken with bones in it because it looked to real. i started thinking about vegetarianism and i was one of those well im almost vegetarian kind of people. i tried to cut back my consumption some but i wasnt really that educated so i was still eating things with by products and i would give in and eat actual meat sometimes.
than the episode of bones in november 2009 changed my life. it was the episode about the chicken factory. i decided that night that i am no longer eating meat period end of story. i saw the chicken factory and i was so upset and discusted. i actually cried. obviously i knew that animals were slaughtered in discusting ways but it just never sank in before that night for some reason.
bones changed my life
When I was 9 I wouldn't eat most meats because I choked on some for one year. I sill ate chicken(the food I've never liked.....)b/c my mom told
Me to. Two years later I was over choking and just drifted back into eating meat. Bad decision. Really bad decision.
For me I started getting into animals when I was about 11 years old and over the yrs it just started to bother me more am more. This summer I did way too much research then told my parents I wasn't going to. Though, for some reason my mom STIL thinks chicken and fish aren't actually meat?
As someone else said we are desensitized towards certain things. I will never understand how people can just know what's in a hot dog and still eat it.
But, people are different. It took dissecting a pig(ie: sobbing in a corner while someone was mocking something that didnt get a chane to live b/c your school's board is an idiot.) and a hunting/fishing trip. Then I kind of had it.