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When you boil it down, veg*nism really has three battle fronts:
Ethical
Environmental
Health

Which was the one that got you to change your diet?
When discussing (or debating) your veg*nism with people, which element do you emphasize most?
Which do you think is veg*nism's strongest point - in regards to being the "face" of veg*nism, reaching out to others to make the change in their diets, and, perhaps, political sway?

Spill your brain.
 

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Mine started out as ethical; I was 14, and had very little idea about the environment, and was told that I needed animal products to be healthy. However, I empathise with all three aspects fairly equally now (although maybe a little less on the health front, I don't take the best care of my body).

In terms of the 'strongest' arguments, it depends on who you're presenting them to.
 

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Hmm, good question. I'm a very new vegetarian, but for me, it started with health. I was looking for a way to drop extra weight and live healthier with limited time on my hands. Vegetarianism appealed to me because it was easier to create a healthy diet without meat than with. I have always known about the world hunger issue, but pushed it to the back of my mind. Once I became vegetarian it started pushing back and then a friend of mine encourraged me to watch Earthlings (which I will not) and/or Food, Inc. (which I did). They clued me in on factory farms and the ethical cost of meat eating.

I have to be very careful when talking to people about my reasons for being vegetarian. I live in an area that is 100% dependant upon the agricultural industry to survive. Everything my little town does is in support of agriculture and my own father is a farmer, though he's getting smaller and smaller instead of larger and larger. And, although we are not in the "Bible Belt" we are certainly a very Christian area. People truly believe that God gave us this land and it's resources (including animals) to take care of and be stewards over. Many of the farmers/ranchers have been doing what they have been doing for generations. There is absolutely no value in adopting a "holier than thou" attitude with regard to my diet. Therefore, I usually forego talking and try to teach by example. I make sure to never criticize what others eat, nor turn my nose up to what is offered though I won't eat the meat or meat products. I always bring vegetarian dishes when I am asked to other's houses and don't really make a big deal out of it. I do this so a) I'm a polite guest and b) so I have something to eat in case I get royally screwed with absolutely nothing that I can eat. I simply eat what I'm going to eat. I only talk about it if people ask, which they often do. Then, I talk about the health benefits first and then move into the ethical concerns in a very non-condescending way. An example may be, "I understand that the ranchers around here are a far cry from what the true factory farms look like (and they are), but I guarantee that the corporations that sell meat to places like Burger King and Outback Steak House do not have the animals interest at heart. To them, the animals are nothing but collateral damage." I also try to talk about how this cheapens the entire food industry and in the long run hurts their friends and family's livelihood. Most of them have no use for corporate farms anyway as they are taking all the independence away from them. What I never talk about is the inhumanity of it all. Whether true or not, I find that this only directly insults them or someone they know. I usually make my speech and then say, "If you want to talk about is some more, just let me know but it's really too deep of a conversation for a dinner party."

From a Christian perspective, the only thing I say is that although I don't doubt that Jesus ate meat (since this is such a big argument), I'm sure there were no factory farms in his time. If there were, his lessons on "whatever you do to the least of these" would surely include animals and that stewardship means more than ownership.

I have to admit, my reception has for the most part been lukewarm at best and it's very disheartening to be called "Anathema" (removed from the Church) by fellow so-called Christians for my choices. I was asked during Lent how I could possibly feel I was making a sacrifice to God by not eating meat when I never eat meat so therefore, I must be wrong. (Try following that logic.) And by another who said that I should use my energy for anti-abortion if I'm so pro-life. (Apparently in his mind they are mutually exclusive.) And by yet another that if I believe animals have feelings, what do I do about the vegetables suffering when I pick them. (Really?!)

But the bottom line is, I eat what I'm going to eat and I cook what I'm going to cook and don't really compromise. I have never asked another human being to follow me, but I'm not changing for them either.

My husband and two oldest kids are about 3/4 of the way to a lacto-ovo vegetarian without any "pushing" from me, so it must be working somewhat, right?
 

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I've always had a soft spot for animals, for as long as I can remember. I wrote essays on them from books I had gotten for fun (I know, nerd). I also distinctly remember at 7 years old being taken to a polish restaurant and reading veal and duckling on the menu. I didn't know what veal was and couldn't believe duckling could actually be baby ducks, so I asked my dad and he confirmed they were dead baby animals. I was so disgusted that I broke down in tears and refused to eat there. Anyways, I started thinking about vegetarianism when I was in high school but I didn't really know much about it and it just never completely clicked for me there. I've never really craved meat to begin with so thinking about leaving it behind wasn't a problem it was that I come from a not too wealthy home where you eat what you're given and most of it is meat. It wasn't until college where I started transitioning because I could choose what I wanted to eat. I also became more educated on industrial farming which is completely against my ethics to begin with. I think because I naturally love animals and would not want to hurt them, understanding what actually happens in the meat industry is the straw that broke the meat eaters back. I have gradually weaned out meat for years but have been completely vegetarian for about 5 months and I couldn't be happier. I think if children were more educated about what they are eating and how their consumption effects the animals there would be more veg*ns out there. We need to be re-taught that our actions all have repercussions on other beings and our environment.

Btw Mackenzie, Good for you. I don't have/believe in a religion but if you believe in a benevolent God then there is no reason that any other person in your religion should judge you for your choices, as that should be left up to God and not them. Same goes for any other belief in the world, if it doesn't hurt you or anyone else than no one else should be allowed to interject and alter your life.
 

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I became vegan because of the ethical reasons. Once I learned how animals were actually treated and what they went through to get all the animal products we eat, I knew I couldn't live with myself if I ever used animal products or byproducts again. I'd feel like a murderer. Many people justify using animal products because they say they didn't personally kill and torture the animal and the animal is already dead or something similar, but I think that this reason is just like someone hiring a hitman to kill someone else and justifying it by saying that they didn't personally kill the other person. Supporting the meat and dairy industry by buying their products is like paying them to torture and murder the animals for you.

I became vegan to stop supporting the torture of animals. I switched from being an omnivore for the animals, and wanting to have a food conscience was just another reason to stay vegan.
 

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I was raised vegetarian for ethical and health reasons. I became vegan for ethical reasons.

I think that each of these reasons can be relevant when persuading someone to be vegan and no reason is the 'right' reason. I think ethical concerns are probably the most common reason someone goes veg but I have also heard the argument that it's often difficult for people to be receptive to the 'for the animals' argument while they are still engaged in cruelty, and it's only after they go veg for health reasons that they can really accept the impact of their former diet.
 

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Environmental and health reasons are why I became vegetarian.

Actually, now that I think of it more, it's really all three.
 

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only 5 weeks in, however I would have to say the reason I changed is most closely related to health, but not exactly. I had been on a diet for a few weeks and had done well with it, then decided while challenging my body, I would challenge my mind too. Honestly I didn't think it would last this long, however after my short stint as a vegetarian, I have recognized the ethical and environmental aspects of my decision as well.

Whatever got me to this point however, at least it did....

Thanks!
 

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It was definitely ethics for me.

I had always loved animals growing up and always had a soft spot for them, but I continued to eat them until I was 27. It seemed to a lot of people at the time that I must have had an epiphany or something, but it really wasn't that. I just simply couldn't go on justifying to myself that "If I love animals so much, how can I go on eating them?"
For me, it had nothing to do with health or the environment. The latter came later.

As far as discussing it with other people, well, that has never really happened much in 28 years!

My family and friends are all meat eaters, and though most seem to respect my view on it, they don't question it at all. I simply don't try to convert anyone and they never try to convert me. Secretly, I get the impression sometimes that meat eaters think people like me are crazy! But that's up to them. I'm certainly never going to change my views on the subject to suit anyone else.
 

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I went veg for the animals.
But the longer I'm vegan, the more I find other reasons appealing, too. For example, I'm more concerned about health now than I was 10-20 years ago.

When I talk to people about it, I tend to emphasize animal rights and welfare unless they tell me they're more interested in health or environmentalism. If they say something like "I could care less how farm animals are treated but I don't want to die of heart disease" (someone once actually said that to me) then I don't bother trying to change their mind, I try to change their habits. Change the habit and the mind tends to follow. Once people have veg habits, they find all kinds of reasons to keep their habits. I've seen many health-oriented vegetarians evolve into AR vegans.
 

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I definitely changed for ethical reasons. The environmental and health factors are just a bonus.
 

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I've been a vegetarian since 2002 for health reasons. Almost everyone in my family has health problems, and I had "hereditary" high cholesterol as a child due the traditional foods and lack of portion control we often have in the (African-American) Southern US, lol. Once I became veggie, those issue were past, and it caused me to take care better care of myself on all fronts. Over time, the environmental and ethical reasons grew to hold some weight for me, but if someone asks why am I veggie, I reply "For health reasons". This also limits the likelihood that someone will proceed to question or pose arguments as to why I am wrong in my choice. I personally don't care what someone else chooses to eat, as that is up to the individual and their own motivations, intrinsic or otherwise. However, I am very vocal when someone tries to undermine or denigrate my own personal choices to point of being obnoxious, so it's better for all involved if it's never mentioned, haha.
 

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I guess my reason now is pride.

Since giving it up would be admitting a defeat.
 

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Ethics.

I use health and environmental arguments when talking with omnis, but I don't care too much about them in actual fact. If vegetarianism was bad for your health and the environment, it'd still be the right thing to do.
 

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Ethical, no doubt. I adore animals. I really thought, when I first became a vegetarian, that I NEEDED meat to survive and everyone I know had convinced me that without it I would become hideously skinny and fragile but I didn't care at all. I'd rather die then eat a poor little animal again.
It wasn't until about a week after I became a veg that I found out that we're healthier without meat and we certainly don't need it. I researched for countless hours on all the benefits, recipes, and soon enough stumbled across this website. You guys have REALLY helped me.
I'm vegetarian right now but I'm slowly becoming vegan. I won't rush into it because I'm afraid I'll end up hating it if I don't switch gradually.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Earthling View Post

Ethics.

I use health and environmental arguments when talking with omnis, but I don't care too much about them in actual fact. If vegetarianism was bad for your health and the environment, it'd still be the right thing to do.
I completely agree! I was raised and told to believe that eating meat was natural and part of the circle of life as humans. Now that I'm vegan, my beliefs couldn't get any more different, and I'd rather starve than be a murderer contributing to the torture of animals ever again.
 

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I started out vegetarian for health and environmental reasons, but when I became aware of the cruelty involved in the production of meat and dairy, I wanted to go vegan. I didn't do it right away (I thought I couldn't live without cheese --- was I wrong about that), but three years ago this month, I went vegan for the animals. With regard to discussing it with others, it really depends on the person. My mom, for instance, did not shy away from the ethical explanation. My brothers, on the other hand, were all about God putting the animals on the earth for us, etc., etc. They hunt, so they just don't understand where I'm coming from. With others, I go the health route. I had one friend this weekend tell me that I was being unhealthy because I wasn't getting enough calcium, etc. I told her about the China Study, the many non-animal sources of calcium, the protein issue and all of that. My only rule is that I won't discuss the ethics over dinner because it never ends well and does more harm than good.
 
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