The fact that I don’t eat meat has come up a few times here and it made me realize that I sort of skipped over any discussion about why I do not eat meat and why I am trying to remove dairy. So here goes…
I never felt “right” about eating meat as a child. I live in an area with a lot of farms and so I’m always passing a field of cows or sitting behind a chicken truck. It always made me feel bad when I knew those animals were fated to death for my dinner. But, that’s what they’re for right? I believed that. In high school I flirted with vegetarianism for about a week. I just had no clue what I was doing and gave it up almost as soon as I started.
I honestly can’t remember exactly why I got so involved in learning about this lifestyle, but it started about halfway through my Weight Watchers journey. I guess it was probably because I was so focused on being healthy and my weight loss that I just started reading about and watching a variety of different things. Different things placed the seeds of trying this in my head but there was a book that finally pushed me over. I’m sure most people remember Oprah being sued by the Texas cattle ranchers for something she said about beef on her show. Most of us remember seeing her say she’d never eat another hamburger, and they remember the trial, but the show is long forgotten. There were guests on that show and one of those guests was Howard Lyman. Lyman was sued right along with Oprah after that show. Lyman is a former cattle rancher turned animal advocate and vegan. His book Mad Cowboy changed how I looked at my food.
His perspective is unique because he was raised on an organic farm, went off to college, and came home and turned his family farm into a factory farm. When he woke up one morning unable to move his body due to cancer in his spine he vowed to change his farm back and to change the industry he helped to create. The things he was willing to admit that he did as a farmer, and that he knew his fellow farmers did was shocking. At that point I was not at a place where I really thought animal products were bad for me, but I knew I could no longer eat factory farmed animals. I also couldn’t afford to eat animals that were raised and killed in a manner I was comfortable with. So, it was just easier to stop eating it.
But, once I quit I had to learn how to eat again. I had to focus on where to get the nutrients I had been getting from animals. So, that involved a lot more reading. Over time I have decided that not only should I no longer eat meat, but I shouldn’t eat anything that comes from an animal. There is a whole lot of information out there. Some will say that this is the best diet, other will say it will harm you. There’s also a lot of information on what is best for the environment. That is important to me too. So, I have weighed a TON of information (trust me, I read and watch stuff on this like it is my job), and have decided that this is what is best for me. Now my sources are probably pretty biased these days. I stumbled upon Lyman, but now I seek out like minded information. It makes sense to me, I believe it, and I plan to live it.
Now what about my kids? When I gave up meat my children were already old enough for a discussion on it. I told them that if they desired the things I was giving up then I would still provide it. They spend half their time with their dad who is a hunter and a meat and potatoes guy so I wasn’t going to try to have that fight. But, I prepared meatless meals and they liked them, so we just went with it. About a year ago my oldest son decided he wanted to stop eating meat. We talked to his pediatrician who was totally fine with it, and so he is about 95% vegetarian at this point. He will eat meat once in a while. My younger son is a little too much like me and will eat whatever is near him. So, at my house he is meatless, and at school and his father’s he eats some meat. They’re old enough now to make these decisions on their own so I’ll tell them how I feel, let their father do the same, and let them go where they will.
So, that’s how I ended up meatless. I was still able to lose weight on WW once I gave it up. I lost about half with meat, and half without. But, you can still eat crap as a vegetarian. I mean french fries (depending on what they’re fried in) are vegetarian. Dr. Oz had a show about a vegetarian that didn’t eat vegetables. But you can also be incredibly healthy without meat too. More and more athletes are “coming out” as vegans or vegetarians. There are bodybuilders, MMA fighters, football players, runners, and a myriad of other high performing individuals that don’t eat animals. It is very possible to get everything you need without animals. The only nutrient that every gets talked about as missing in this diet is B12, but the information is all over the place about that as well.
What we eat is a very personal choice. Everyone has to find their own path with that. This is the one I’m comfortable on.
Below is a talk given by Lyman. It’s a little over an hour long. I’ll also link up his book in case you’re interested.