General Question

essieness's avatar

Should I become a vegetarian?

Asked by essieness (7698points) March 4th, 2009

I really don’t feel so bad about the animals dying for me to eat them because I feel like it’s part of the food chain/circle of life or what have you. But lately, every time I eat meat, especially beef or chicken and especially if it has a bone, I start thinking about how the meat used to be somebody’s muscle and I get completely grossed out and have to stop eating. It tastes good to me… I don’t feel morally wrong about eating it… What the heck is going on? Also, I’m totally fine eating seafood. I’m not sure what the difference is there. HELP!

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33 Answers

AstroChuck's avatar

This is a decision you have to make for yourself. I became vegetarian in 1990 and never looked back. I feel better in both a physical and an ethical way.

essieness's avatar

@AstroChuck Do you think that my aversion to eating the meat recently is stemming from some moral belief that I’m suppressing?

AstroChuck's avatar

How would I know that? I can only tell you how I feel. Why don’t you try it on a trial basis and see how it works out? That’s how I started.
If you do decide to try it you should consider taking zinc supplements. Many will tell you to take iron and protein vitamins but you can easily get enough through a proper veg diet. Zinc, however, is a little more difficult mineral to obtain through a vegetarian diet alone.

essieness's avatar

Maybe I’ll try that.

Mr_M's avatar

You don’t have to throw yourself in 100%, Try just eating vegetables for awhile. I think your problem will pass and pass soon. Some people think different things about food such that they won’t eat it – for awhile.

How many times have you heard of people who won’t eat from a certain restaurant because of stories they heard? Eventually their want for the food exceeds their concerns and they go back.

megs's avatar

I love it when people ask if they should. If it’s something you want to try, in the end it would probably better yourself, red meat isn’t even that good for you, I’m a vegetarian but I am not Vegan i still eat dairy just no meat or fish. Sometimes i see it was would you eat you’re dog? or you’re cat? i know i wouldn’t, but then again that could just be because we grow on our pets and we learn to love them and not eat them. But I am an animal lover and hate animal abuse. Animals deserve to live just like people do. Why do we take that away from them? It sickens me. Going vegetarian was probably one of my best desisions, I would never force it on anybody, maybe you should just try for a little while.

essieness's avatar

@megs Well, I used the word “should” because I feel like my body and my mind aren’t communicating correctly in this instance, you know? I don’t think I want to be a vegetarian… but when I eat meat, my body goes “NOPE!”

DrasticDreamer's avatar

I was a vegetarian for a while, because I was going through the same thing. I’d try to eat meat and it would disgust me, simply because I knew it was a dead animal. Not only that, but I also know how a lot of the animals are farmed and killed and it’s not something that I think a lot of people would be okay with, if they knew how the animals were treated and killed.

I ended up eating meat again, because I started to get really tired and weak all the time, but that can easily be remedied with vitamins and whatnot. There are times when I contemplate becoming a vegetarian again for the same reasons I did before. Sometimes it’s just so disgusting to me that I can’t actually make myself eat meat. And I love animals a lot. I still have a problem eating bacon, because I know they’re smarter than dogs and it just makes me feel horrible.

dynamicduo's avatar

Hmmm. Interesting situation you are in. I’m not sure what you’re going through as I haven’t experienced it nor known anyone who has, so I can only speculate on how to treat your issue.

How about taking it slow with meat from now on? Start identifying what meats you can eat without having this disconnect appear. You already are fine with seafood, so that would technically make you a pescetarian if you choose to keep eating fish while dumping other meat. Maybe it’s the appearance of gristle and bone that triggers your disconnect, or maybe it would occur even in a poached boneless chicken breast in a salad.

There’s really no harm in scaling back your meat consumption and becoming vegetarian for a bit, and observing yourself and your reactions as you introduce different meats and different meat cooking methods. You just need to ensure to get all your protein and vitamins from other sources. A bowl of rice and beans amazingly enough provides you with most if not all proteins that meat provides, and there are many ways to add veggies to this to make it yummy (or change the beans for chickpeas, etc).

simpleD's avatar

That you’re thinking about the issue is great! The meat industry has gone to great lengths to shield us from the brutal realities of animal suffering and disease. They package their products in pretty, plastic coated containers, promising tasty treats and the protein our bodies need.

What they, of course, don’t tell you is how the animals have endured mental and physical illness from spending their lives in cramped crates, standing in their own feces. Chicken feet grow around the wires of their cages. Their beaks are clipped off, without anesthetic, to keep them from pecking each other to death. Animals are continuously fed antibiotics to ward off the infections caused by their living conditions. Those antibiotics are passed on to you. Many sick animals die on their way to the slaughterhouse, and though it is illegal for them to be processed, many still are.

These are only a few of the documented suffering-related reasons why vegetarians have stopped supporting the meat industry. There are environmental reasons, health reasons, and world hunger reasons as well. If you are interested, read about the issues, and then decide if being a vegetarian is right for you.

I believe that if a person ceases to be in denial about what meat is and where it comes from, as you have begun to do, then becoming vegetarian is a necessary and ethical choice.

Darwin's avatar

Americans who do eat meat eat more than is needed to be healthy. It won’t hurt you at all to cut back on meat consumption permanently or temporarily. It will not do you any harm if you are careful in your food choices. Fill in your protein needs with fish, beans and rice, eggs, and cheese, and take a multi-vitamin to make sure you are getting everything you need, and you may never go back to eating meat.

I was a vegetarian for a while in my teens as an ethical thing but when I went off to college the choices in the cafeteria and my body caused me to rethink things and I began to eat meat again. As a graduate student I raised some animals for meat and discovered that I dislike the process of slaughter intensely, but if I don’t eat at least some meat I don’t feel well.

My solution has been to eat a small amount of animal protein at one meal per day and never to waste any of it. If the animals must suffer so that my body is healthy then I do not want to trivialize their sacrifice by not consuming what they have given. I also work in animal rescue and campaign for humane animal husbandry, and buy free range and organic meat to support those ranchers and farmers that attempt healthier practices.

This is not a perfect solution but it is what I can do to balance my physical needs and my ethical ones.

sdeutsch's avatar

I think taking it slow and figuring out what you’re okay with and what you’re not is a good way to go. I’ve been a mostly-vegetarian since I was 12 years old, for exactly the same reasons you’re talking about – I don’t have an ethical or moral problem with it, but the thought that I’m eating what used to be an animal is too disturbing to me.

I have found, though, that certain kinds of meat don’t bother me, so there was no reason for me to stop eating them. I’m totally fine with fish, and for some reason bacon has never bothered me, although other ham/pork products gross me out. Don’t worry that there’s no rhyme or reason to it – just eat the things you feel okay about, and don’t eat the ones you don’t. Die-hard vegetarians will tell you that you shouldn’t eat any of it, but it’s your diet and your decision – eat whatever you like!

Also, your tastes and feelings about it will probably change over time – don’t be afraid to let them. I had my first corned beef sandwich in 17 years today, and it was fabulous – I probably won’t have another one for years, but every now and then the desire to eat something will overcome the gross-out factor. Nothing wrong with that!

essieness's avatar

Thanks for all your wonderful advice everyone!! I think I will just reduce the amount of meat I eat for now and substitute with beans and other sources of protein like you guys have suggested. Maybe the aversion will disappear, and maybe I’ll become a full blown vegetarian. Who really knows? I have a few friends who have made the change to vegetarianism and they claim to feel better, physically, than ever before. I think there has to be something to that. My only concern is that I have Addison’s disease and protein is essential to my diet. I would have to be very diligent about finding ways to keep protein in my diet.

Thanks again for all your advice!!! This is why I dig Fluther…

mangeons's avatar

It’s all about what you feel. I tried once, but I found I loved the taste of meat too much. I’m a true carnivore. :) I’ve been trying to find more ways to go green and help the environment, another way to help the planet without giving up something I love, and it makes me feel better about myself whenever I throw a plastic bottle into the recycling bin. :)

laureth's avatar

You said it was not related to the meat industry, so this might not help. However, there do exist farmers who don’t treat their animals as heinously as some of the people ^up there^ describe. (They do still kill them in the end, though, but they got to eat grass, not live in tiny cages or stalls.) If you have a local farmer’s market, there may be a meat vendor there. (There is at mine.) Look for words like “grass fed” on beef or “pastured” for poultry. It’s more expensive in some cases, but if you are cutting down and not buying as much, you might as well choose the really good stuff.

suzyq2463's avatar

It was the stewing chicken that pushed me over the edge. I was stewing a chicken for Chicken Tetrazinni, my favorite meal, but as I de-boned the chicken the realization that I was dismembering a fellow living (now dead) revolted me. I was a cannibal. I decided on that day to become a vegetarian. I really didn’t do it for moral reasons or religious reasons. I did it because I just couldn’t eat something that had a face. After that I started researching the ethical and religious issues, and I’ve been convinced that I made the right decision.

As for protein: really you can get plenty from vegetable sources, especially soybeans. Have you ever tried edamame? It’s wonderful, boiled in the pod, lightly salted with sea salt, and eaten like popcorn—pop the beans out of the pods and enjoy.

essieness's avatar

I guess the only other problem I have with eating meat (besides it grossing me out as I said before) is that I sort of feel like the negative energy from the meat is being transferred to me. What I mean by negative energy is the horror, fear, and pain that the animal goes through when it dies. Well, also I guess in its life up until death if it’s one of those poor animals that lives in those awful situations. I’m very much a believer in vibes/energies and I stay away from negativity in other areas of my life, so maybe now that I’ve de-negatived myself in other aspects, the negative energy from meat is coming through more pronounced.

That’s the only reasoning I can come up with.

@suzyq2463 I haven’t tried soybeans or edamame, but I am going to make a list of all the recommendations you guys have made and start trying them out!


dynamicduo's avatar

@essieness – I’m reminded of my cooking idol Gordon Ramsay. He was astonished and disgusted when he was shown videos of animals raised in harsh but legal conditions (such as sows that are in pens so tight that they cannot turn around tip to tail). So he made a choice from that point on to support animals who have not been raised like this. There are labels that designate such meat, including “free range”, “grass-fed”, etc. He actually went as far as to raise some of his own animals in his backyard in order to give the animal a happy fun life before it was ultimately put to use. I believe in this sentiment greatly, and it is one of the biggest reasons why I want to become a farmer, is so that I can raise animals who have happy fun lives before their bodies are put to use. Yes, ultimately my eating them ends their life. However by my hands they would be given greater lives than they would likely have in the wild (treated for any wounds, fed nutritious and varied foods, plenty of exercise and daylight, maybe even have some kids around to feed and pet them); and that to me is a fair exchange, considering one major alternative is raising them with no concerns whatsoever.

essieness's avatar

@dynamicduo I totally agree with you. It’s good to know that there are people out there who are putting that belief to practice so that people like you and I can enjoy meat without feeling too guilty about it.

laureth's avatar

“Free Range” is a good idea, but the definition of what kind of range is free varies greatly by farm. I’ve heard of some “free range” dairy farms where they get fresh air only through an open window, and chicken barns that are “free range” when they have a small door to a fenced lot that the chickens are too afraid to use. It pays to know the farm and/or farmer of origin.

dynamicduo's avatar

Just with all labels, there will be some people who abuse it and some people who use it right.

There’s nothing stopping you from doing research about the farm, seeing if they have pictures online of their happy animals. Hint, a site that doesn’t have pictures might have something to hide compared to a site that openly shows you the living conditions of their animals.

laureth's avatar

True, but lots of things can be staged or falsified. If they’re dishonest, it’s all engineered to make you think they’re honest, ya know?

Here’s a article about Horizon Organics that goes into some of that. The happy jumping cow logo is just a logo.

mij's avatar

I was just thinking k.d. lang, she had a run in with the Canadian Cattle/Beef association over her stance on meat eating.
I had been a vegetarian for a few years when I first got married and we were influenced to feed our two children meat by grandparents who thought we were doing the wrong thing.
Hardly buy red meat these days so could swing back quite easily now our kids have moved on.
Being vegetarian certainly didn’t do us any harm.

DandyDear711's avatar

Just another thought…. eating conventionally farmed beef is really harmful to the environment. If you give up meat, you are substantially lessening your carbon foot print. That is a big reason why I have given up beef and poultry. I could eat grass fed beef and free range poultry but for me this is healthier. I love the taste and have a little problem with portion control. I do eat fish and seafood.

I can’t stand veggie broth so I have allowed free range chicken broth back into my diet. It has made all the difference!

laureth's avatar

Yep. Herbivores eating grass (in this case, American bison) is what built up the amazing fertility of the Great Plains, before European farmers came along and started eroding it by planting row crops to feed domestic cattle, vegetarians, and the rest of us.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@suzyq2463 eating a chicken does NOT make you a cannibal, it makes you a carnivore. Big diffference. Cannibalism is eating another human. Being a carnivore means you are eating meat from other species.

Personally, I don’t mind what people eat. Eat meat, eat veggies, eat dirt, eat bugs, eat whatever makes you feel better about yourself. What does bother me however is how some folks assume that eating meat is inherently wrong or immoral. Somehow, I think it is people equating animals as equal to humans. If a cow is equal to a human, then why isn’t a spider? Both are alive, both exist for a reason, both care for their young, and they all have nerve endings. But some people will condemn you for eating meat while stepping on ‘icky’ bugs with no qualms about it.

And fish feel pain when they are cut open and cleaned for human consumption, just as a cow or pig does. Some fish are descaled while still alive, which strikes me as pretty barbaric. And throwing a live lobster into a pot of boiling water is just heinous. I’m not sure why killing some animals is okay, but killing others gets labeled immoral. I would hope that anthropomorphic attitudes are NOT coming into play here. Just because a cow is cuter than a bonefish, how does that justify which one gets eaten?

As for eggs and dairy, if the chickens aren’t free range, they are kept in little cages in giant sunless factories solely to produce eggs. Dairy cows are usually free range, but not always. Dairy cows have been bred for excessive milk production, and if they spend too much time outdoors, they get sunburn on their udders. Sunburned udders can lead to (if untreated) infection, gangrene, and death for the cow. Very painful way to die.

I say eat what you want, and if the knowledge of your diet upsets you, then change it. But be skeptical of those folks who won’t eat a cow or a sheep, but have no qualms about skinning/scaling fish that are still alive, or stepping on a harmless spider. Those people just might be hypocrites.

Darwin's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra : My kids hate me for it but I do NOT step on spiders. If I have to I move them to safety but I never squash them.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@Darwin if the roles were reversed, I’m sure the spider wouldn’t step on you either. :-)

Darwin's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra – Actually, I do them a good deed. I do not use bug spray in the house due to concerns about its effects on non-bug species such as people. In essence, I provide a buffet for the spiders.

I am so happy to hear that the spiders wouldn’t step on me. Now if I could only be certain they wouldn’t consider me prey, inject me with venom, and envelope me in silk until they feel peckish.

mikeblack's avatar

I suffered the same problem, and i stuck to alot of fruit, occasional Chicken Breast, and Filet of Fish. I chose to go easy on Dairy, and eat alot of Veggies.I have More Energy than ever..Good Luck. I believe that any time a person takes their Health seriously, it is a Healthy Mind set..Persue this line of Reason.

Futomara's avatar

I’m a vegetarian because I hate plants.

essieness's avatar

@Futomara That’s funny.

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