I think for me, if you were to ask me, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago "If you love animals so much, why do you eat them?" I would have answered that it was not possible to be a vegetarian and do the things that i wanted to do, to be the person that i wanted to be. Therefore, i must eat meat in order to survive and thrive. The loss of life was regretable, but necessary.
I wanted to be veg (or had that inclination) from the time that i was about 10 or 11--perhaps even younger, but i can remember from that age. I would continually ask my parents about animals, how they were killed and why, and that i didn't feel comfortable eating them. BUT, my parents always told me that i had to eat meat in order to survive. They would have me talk to their ex-veggie friends about how unhealthy their lifestyle was and so on. I would hear over and over that if i became veggie, i wouldn't be healthy, etc.
In 1992, a girl at my school was vegan (which was cool. she was really committed) and she convinced a lot of girls to go veg (even though they never gave up their leather and stuff.) I flat out told her, in front of the "chic" veggies that i totally respected her for taking the stance that she did--but that veggies who "didn't go all the way" really bothered me.
So, here's where i was at about 15 years old. I was sitting there not happy with eating animals, but not seeing a way not to eat them. Similarly, i saw that i could not eat animals, but in order to play sports, and whatever, i needed leather. I felt that it was wrong to not eat the cow but wear the cow. I thought that was very hypocritical. And i saw so many girls at school doing it (and many are not veg now--it was a "phase" to be cool) which only made it worse. So, i felt that if i must wear the cow, i should probably eat it too--as not to waste. But, i still wasn't comfortable with the idea.
Shortly after starting college, i met a "life vegetarian"--an young indian-american man who had been raised lacto veg (traditional indian diet). He was very tall, very strong, very healthy. And cute too. Anyway, i was really confused. I'd been told that one couldn't be a vegetarian for any length of time, and that it would make you unhealthy. And that there weren't equipment alternatives for things that i wanted to do (like play soccer and go hiking). So, i just kept excusing myself. That was 1994.
Anyway, i took a nutrition class the very next semester. The teacher was very anti-vegetarianism. She would admit that a person could be vegetarian and get their nutrients--but "it was much harder" and one couldn't be "a healthy athlete" if they were vegetarian. She did most of her studies on women's teams, fitness, and protien consumption. She gave some girls a "vegetarian" diet which was unbalanced and mostly salads, low on protien. Other girls got the "vegetarian diet" plus animal protien. They did much better. Later, i learned that her studies were funded by various meat-boards.
So, I learned a lot then, and still thought that i couldn't be a healthy athlete. I looked at people who were vegetarian around me--and other than the indian community, the only other veggies were weird hippie veggies who were usually high, very rarely ate anything healthy, and were continuallly both dirty and sick. I certainly didn't want to be a part of that.
I mean, basicly, i wanted to be myself--and "look normal"--dress the way that i like to dress, and do the things that i liked to do. AND i HONESTLY believed that it wasn't possible to do that and be vegetarian/vegan.
finally, in 1999 and 2000 i did a lot more research--in depth stuff. and i got lots of opinions about things. I looked aruond and decided that i didn't have to be like anyone else to be vegetarian. And to be like everyone else and be omni was stupid (there was a social factor). I also saw pictures of life vegans and veggies--and saw that they were strong, tall, healthy, and in most cases, perfectly normal. some of them had rather odd ideas about things, but i can't fault them for that--i had too.
At that point, i decided to "try" and be vegetarian. Which meant that i was transitioning. I started with a rule that i could handle. First, i would only eat meat when out to eat (if i wanted it) or with family (when they served it). since my famiyl was anti veg (mostly because of the AR connection), i thought it would be easier to get my footing in vegetarianism if i did it "on my own" and then introduced it to them when i understood where i was coming form. Therefore, i was veggie at home, and only omni outside of the home.
I did this for about 4 or 5 months. I was only eating meat once a month--if that--and in the last time i ate meat, i got very sick. That was the end of it for me. Then, three months after that, i went vegan (that transition was to be vegan at home, lacto-ovo outside of the home, again to get my footing). I always gave mself the caveat that if i felt unhealthy, i would go back to eggs or dairy, from certain sourcse. that if i needed to, i could go back to meat.
i don't imagine that i could go back to meat, but eggs and dairy (although lactose intolerant) are not "so bad" when i get them from the sources that i trust.
Anyway, that was my journey. I transitioned in late 1999, went veg in 2000.