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Hi everyone. I just wanted to introduce myself. I'm from the UK, I've just turned 30 and I've been a vegetarian all my life, which is something that I'm very grateful to my parents for. I have remained vegetarian due mostly to concern for the animals, but also because of the many environmental benefits, and the fact that there would (in theory at least) be enough food for everyone if we were all vegetarian. As I see veganism as a logical extension of ethical vegetarianism, I have for a long time aspired to be a vegan, and will absolutely become one one day.

I don't think there's any fundamental difference between me and many people who eat meat, in terms of kindness, willpower, feelings towards animals or the environment, etc. There are many genuinely nice people I know who eat meat, and I think the main reason why I don't eat meat and they do is simply our respective upbringings. I think if I'd been raised to eat meat then I probably still would, even though I'd feel guilty about it. Likewise I think that most people who eat meat and feel bad about it but "like the taste too much to give it up" would probably be vegetarian had they been brought up that way.

How you're brought up is such a fundamental thing: I've been raised to think of meat as something evil, alien, disgusting, violent and unpleasant; most others have been raised to think of it as something which is delicious, "normal", appropriate, acceptable, and a part of every "proper" meal. They probably associate it with some of their happiest moments as a child (Christmas etc), when they felt the most comfortable and loved. So I can see why the very idea of giving up meat is so "out there" to so many people, even those who you'd think would be very open to it (and would have seriously considered it) given their general attitudes to animals etc.

I used to be somewhat militant about trying to persuade nice people who I thought of as good "candidates" for vegetarianism to give it a go. But these days I try to put myself in their shoes and accept their lifestyle, despite the fact that I wish they wouldn't contribute to the cruelty involved in factory farming and slaughterhouses, and my conviction that if they would only associate what's on their plate with those institutions then the penny would drop. It must be very hard to make a decision to give up meat when (I'm told) it tastes so nice and "everyone else" eats it. Those on this site who have done so, I take my hat off to, as I think they've done something much harder than lifelong vegetarians like me have.

Anyway, I don't know many vegetarians or vegans outside my family, so I've joined this site in order to change that. I do have some interesting conversations about vegetarianism and related topics with some meat-eaters that I know (which I tend to let them initiate rather than me, so that people don't think I'm "preaching"), but I'm always conscious about "overstepping the mark" by condemning farming practices too strongly and so making them feel like I see them as callous monsters. Here I can say exactly what I'm thinking, which will be nice.

So, I guess I'll see you around!
 

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Hi Hypercube, welcome to the board! You hit on some very good points. Since becoming a vegetarian I've gained a lot of positive energy. I don't go out of my way to preach to people, but when they ask what's up with this new vibe, I tell them it's all about the veggies!
 

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Hi hypercube! I've just signed up too.

Really like what you're saying about meat-eaters not being fundamentally much different from people who choose not to do so. Patience is a virtue, and I'm sure lots of people share the experience of a judgemental tone doing more to damage the veggie cause than help it! Even if they do initiate the combat themselves (they usually do...some people just can't get over it!)

Personally, I'm militant about getting people to try vegetarian food, not so much about trying to get them to give up meat. That way people see you're doing them a favour, rather than trying to stop them doing something.

anyway, here's some newbie solidarity
 
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