Where’s the Beef?

Today, March 16, is my veggie-versary. One year since I DTR’d with my diet and decided to break up with meat. Many times over the past 12 months I’ve bemused, with a gleam in my eye, that if I made it a year I might let myself eat a burger (pause for lusty sigh) …with bacon.

Now it’s been a year, and I’m content to report that I don’t want a burger today. Not even a little bit. (Full disclosure: I cheated in September on my trip to Europe. Fish & chips. A bite of boeuf bourguignon. Got chicken-drunk in Paris. I’ve also had Sushi a handful of times stateside. So there’s that.)

I had BBQ in Memphis after my half-marathon, and I found the idea of it more enjoyable than the experience. It’s about being in Memphis with my friends. Celebrating a physical victory. Pork is just an accessory.

When people ask me why I decided to become vegetarian, and it’s often during a meal in which the asker is eating meat themselves, I usually pause to pick the right reason for the moment. (Because there are lots of reasons, and they are all good ones.) I never want to be That Guy, pulling out the gross stories or the guilt-trip statistics over somebody’s chicken nuggets.

I explain politely that it was an easy choice for me to make, ultimately. One I’d toyed with many times in the past. My boyfriend at the time went veggie, so it was all the more easy for me. Vegetarian food is awesome, too. I don’t just nibble celery and feel deprived of flavor. I’ve discovered I feel lighter, healthier.
Finally, my cholesterol lowered 30 points in just 3 months.

That’s the real selling point, I think. The numbers. The facts. People go, “ooh!” Cholesterol is something people get. Start talking cruelty and corruption, and people get antsy. So I don’t.

But if I had to choose just one reason why I no longer eat meat, it’s this book:

Eating Animals

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer simply changed my life.
(My Google search for the book cover taught me that Natalie Portman is also vegetarian and a JSF disciple. She wrote an articulate little Huff Post article that you might enjoy.)

My Memphis BBQ moment was about the story. Foer argues that food is about the story for all of us. What we eat is part of what determines who we are–in our families, in our cultures, and as individuals.

If you find yourself toying with the idea of vegetarianism, even a little bit like me, read this book. JSF is a genius. The writing is delectable. The ideas are, too.

(And someday, it’s possible, even you will surprise yourself, saying, “I don’t miss bacon.”)

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3 thoughts on “Where’s the Beef?

  1. I’m sure you’ve noticed that when meat-eaters ask you why you don’t eat meat, they immediately follow it up with some comment about how vegetarians want to lecture and belittle and convert everyone who does eat meat. I like to remind them that they’re the ones who brought up the conversation in the first place. Most vegs I know don’t want anything to do with your consumption of meat. That’s your business. I’ve felt belittled on more than one occasion by meat eaters, including my cousin’s 6 year old who asked me repeatedly, “but how do you get protein?!”

    My reasons for vegetarianism are simple:
    1. I have energy from the moment I wake up until I go to bed. I don’t crash at 2:30. I don’t drink caffeinated drinks.
    2. I probably consume more protein than you do everyday, and half the fat.
    3. I probably consume 3 times more produce than you everyday.
    4. My cholesterol is 270 without meat–I might combust if I ate it again.
    5. At the end of the day, nothing had to spend their life in a slaughter house to end up dead on my plate, and I feel good about that. And my body thanks me for it.

    I don’t proclaim from the rooftops that I’m a veg, but I’d never hide it. I’m proud and its one of the things I like best about me.

  2. I’ve been a veggie-only and a meat-lover and I hate both sides of the argument. So many omnivores get defensive because vegetarians get accusatory and, of course, vice versa. It’s awful. Susan definitely hinted at the “us vs them” mentality both sides are guilty of. Deep down I think a lot of meat eaters feel a little guilty and some vegetarians are a wee bit envious or just plain hurt so it comes out in a lot of weird ways. But who can blame them? Like you said, it’s nice to want to take ownership of what you consume.

    I don’t think it’s socially responsible to consume as much meat as is the average in this country since it seems cruel to waste so much of what we kill and the production of meat is so terribly energy inefficient. However, I will eat every scrap of dead animal you offer me because it awful for it to end up in the trash. That’s how I rationalize it and make my choices.

    I’m glad that you’ve managed to develop eating habits that you’re proud of however, I’m enthralled with you for having the good taste of choosing the best way to express your opinions when asked. The best thing you can do to explain yourself or influence another person is make them listen to your answer. When they asked you over dinner, they were likely inviting you for an argument. By putting it off you decided to make it a conversation.

    Well done, Sarah. That rhetorical mastery will probably change more people’s minds about vegetarianism than all of the clever slogans, facts and arguments you could have thrown at them. Likewise, this post offers a wonderful resource in that particular book.

  3. Teehee, except for the sushi incidents, I’ve been with you every time you ate meat this year. Maybe I’m the enabler here? :)

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