The Argument for Vegetarianism, Part 1

January 3, 2011

I’ve asked the questions and I’ve gotten all sorts of answers. The majority of the answers I got back when I asked, “Vegetarianism, what’s your take?”, had to do with people’s beliefs, and I mean strong, personal beliefs. This means that I didn’t get specific suggestions or explanations on how to live a healthy, active, even athletic lifestyle on a vegetarian diet. What I did get were reasons why people live as vegetarians, which included their love and sympathy for animals’ lives as well as living responsibly by not contributing to what makes them personally uncomfortable, and doing this by not buying and/or eating animal products of different varieties.

Although that doesn’t give any new information or convince me to become a vegetarian, I think that’s fine. Whatever is deemed personal for whatever reason is allowable, as long as it doesn’t become defined as a social abnormality or psychological diagnosis, e.g. OCD. Most vegetarians I know just can’t bear the thought of putting carrion in their mouths to feed themselves because of the psychological ramifications. But, they all did grow up to be healthy and strong adults eating meat before the psychology made itself known. So, the quest for answers continues.

I was  a strict vegetarian for 12 years, so I can relate to what it must be like for some, if not most, vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs. I didn’t get the vast array of vegan junkfood and fake meats that are available now as a whole new food industry, so it is actually easier in big cities and in vegetarian cultures to say no to meat in 2011 and beyond. One of the reasons I began eating meat again is the constant grey area that being a vegetarian can cross into when hunger strikes and none of your acquaintances or friends are vegetarians, and this is the grey area that feels like a psychological abnormality. Another reason is that it makes situations difficult on your friends who have the right to eat whatever they want and now have to make special arrangements for your vegetarianism. Ultimately, I realized it was making life more difficult for me as well. If I decided I just wanted to loaf around and rarely test the limits of my strength and endurance, I’d probably still be the kind of vegetarian I used to be. Eating is still very exclusionary of unhealthy substances(processed foods, high amounts of starches and saturated fats, refined sugar, etc.) but easier because meat is never an issue anymore.

As a vegetarian, I’ve never been malnourished, so going from no meat to meat basically felt exactly the same to me and had no effect on my body or energy levels. The only thing that changed was the psychology, and it was very freeing. I do know that as a vegetarian I was consuming higher levels of carbohydrates in general, and with my new diet I am able to obtain more protein while having control over the amount of carbohydrates I ingest. For example, if I wanted proteins from beans, I’d have to consume the carbohydrates that came with the beans. Now I have the option of eating whole foods exactly the way I want to keep a certain dietary proportion of nutrients tailored for specific energy and strength requirements.

A lot has changed in the 25 years since I first decided to be a vegetarian, and although my own psychology has changed in terms of what is right for me, I am still intrigued about what an adequate vegetarian diet would include without just saying phrases like, “I’m not hungry, that’s all I need” in order to stay slim, and without wasting the body away under intense physical activity because nutritional needs are not being met due to a psychological aversion to the foods the body craves and needs(i.e. no foods with faces). It’s no secret that protein is available in many foods that even a vegan can devour like a hungry beast, but I find it all comes down to the way that you eat what you eat. You can’t be casual about what you eat, unless you are fine with looking like you are casual about what you eat, and that goes for everybody, meat or no meat. Just lift up your shirt over your abdomen and take a look and that will be the indicator of what kind of vegetarian you are. If you want to, look even further to the body’s largest organ, the skin, and see what kind of vegetarian you are. Even further, you can examine the different systems of the body and whether they are operating in harmony or under stress caused by nutrition.

I’ve read misleading sentences like “How does a Gorilla, which pound for pound is 10x stronger than a full grown man, become like this just by eating fruit, roots and green sprouts? Vegetarian protein sources provide it with all the materials it needs to do this.” How? By being a Gorilla, that’s how. The same thing can be said of cats, the argument being for eating carcasses. The answer there, of course, is that they are cats, not humans.

Every person is different and has a different type of body that responds differently to the environment. I know some people that would lose enough weight to look like a healthy, lean example of extreme strength if they decided to live a healthy vegetarian lifestyle, and I know some vegetarians who would begin to look healthy if they they just ate more healthy foods. You choose what works best for you – not what works best for the animals you feel sorry for, but what works best for you. Most vegetarians and vegans confuse sympathy and compassion. With compassion for animals, you don’t have to limit your life’s possibilities and opportunities for happiness by restricting what you eat. If you want to sympathize with the animals, you can wage your silent war one vegan whoopee pie at a time while watching the meat-eating machine continue on without a scratch and be able to sleep at night because you feel good about yourself. I salute all the vegetarians and vegans that have learned to alter their lives and diets for all the right reasons with all the right results, and I hope to learn a lot about life from them. Next, we’ll talk more about the specifics of what to eat and when and how much if you’re a vegetarian.

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7 Responses to “The Argument for Vegetarianism, Part 1”

  1. Shanna said

    Okay, that picture of prince is messing with my head…in a bad way….:)

  2. maurice said

    I have been in the business of food ( buying and selling ) for quite some time now and have been a vegetarian even longer. The daily interaction with customers and vendors affords me a unique perspective on personal, public and global health issues. The single most important factor is reducing the amount of meat we consume, doing so would greatly reduce water, air and ground pollution. That alone would allow us greater health and an abundance of resources to sustain life well into the next century.

    • metalyoga said

      This is a great perspective that is of utmost importance. I’d be very interested in exploring it further. According to greenlivingtips.com, meat consumption around the world has been on the rise over the past 40 years, even with all the new generations of vegetarians. It seems that for the individual, just becoming a vegetarian is not enough, and has no assurances that someone else is not doing something to counteract any efforts in non-consumption of animal products. Education and planning for job creation to make such a shift would be essential.

      • maurice said

        Sometimes people do things for the wrong reasons, 1980 was when i decided not to eat meat. In the years leading up to that point news of nitrates in hot dogs ( amongst other less desirable ingredients ) and other deli meats, lead us to “Health food” stores that were at times smaller than some airport news stands; but they offered the basics, cereals, breads, juices, nut butters; rarely did we find any meat. The meat we ate was sauteed or seared (liver, beef or chicken ) so that the nutrients remained, “healthier” is where this was taking us ( my brothers and i ). Then one day the idea of being vegetarian came into being, and after reading a book by Herbert M. Shelton, gave us what we were looking for, a way to health. That was my reason then and it remains so today. One might accuse me of being selfish and they would be right, i didn’t care what others thought about it, as a matter of fact it made me different from others and i kind of liked that idea. What was hidden from me when i began this process was the far reaching “side effects” ( if you will ) of what i was doing and it was anything but selfish; sure i got better health, no stomach aches, no head aches, didn’t worry about hormones, antibiotics, (although the use of antibiotics is so prevalent it’s ending up in our drinking water ) or any of those things… and guess what no creatures were killed to sustain this life for the past 30 years. During those years ( just like Rome wasn’t built in one day ) i was able to eliminate dairy, sugar and most processed foods. I rely on my wife for support these days and her goodness and tolerance has given me the wherewithal to get where i am today and i can say, with great conviction in my voice that i will never eat meat again; as long as i have free will. i know what is right and in so saying; the reason i began this this journey is now the side effect and the moral and humane is now the reason, i see it as a win win situation; don’t you?

  3. metalyoga said

    This is the reason vegetarianism needs to be explained and shared on a standardized level for everyone to comprehend. It’s no longer a rebellion but the norm to be a vegetarian, even a vegan. Many people do it for health reasons, like unexplained symptoms or allergies that are caused by dairy, and then living the life has moral results as well. Here is the American parallel with Yoga, where most people are introduced to Yoga because they need healing, whether physical, emotional, or both. If you are not looking for healing and you realize that just being a vegetarian for yourself isn’t going to change anything in the world, you need a more clear-cut reason that is convincing. What I would like to see happen is for the moral compass of humanity as a whole to unite and realize that poisoning another human being is like poisoning yourself, if I could use such a strong word. The decades long experience of being a vegetarian from people like yourself needs to be documented and laid out for new vegetarians to start right and continue on the path of health for mankind on this planet, and that is a win-win situation. There is still much personal psychology attached to vegetarianism as a stigma, mainly because putting anything inside your body throughout the day has psychological ramifications that are unique to you, to each individual. If the facts can be known and nutritional values listed clearly to explain the foods we can all live on with the results of eating those foods without relying on the meat industry, a larger, more informed movement can take place and fix the machine from the inside. Although small pockets of society in North America and Europe are vegetarian, it still remains a mysterious abnormality to be a healthy vegetarian. I would love to explore ideas about how this can change in our lifetime, before all the animals are gone and we are vegetarians by default.

    • maurice said

      The thought of introducing people ( vegetarians and non ), to a healthy and more sustainable life, is not without merit and has numerous benefits for the world and its inhabitants. There is one huge problem; resources once viewed as infinite have been stripped of nutrients to feed feed an overpopulated planet, 7 billion and counting. Organic farmers are struggling to keep pace with demand, yet the size and scope of organic farms pales in comparison to conventional farming; that if there was a 10% shift from non organic to organic consumption we would not have enough to feed them all. The Earth is altering its weather patterns, land once wet is dry, yet there are those that deny that climate change is taking place. This adds to the difficulties of sustainably feeding an ever growing population, but our ideals neglect or refuse to see the writing on the wall, forging on rolling up our sleeves and tackling the task at hand offering good food to people wanting better and doing better in the end. The “machine” needs to be abolished, because it does more harm than good!

  4. Thanks for sharing your insights. I know someone who said that he became a vegetarian because he believes that animals should die a natural death and should not be killed to be eaten. It was a different principle if I look back at the responses I get when I ask other vegetarians the “why” question. What’s good about his principle is that he shares it with his family. I also know some who became a vegetarian because he wanted to be fit but reverted back to eating meat because he couldn’t take any more pressure seeing other people around him munching on steaks and pork chops while he gobbles lettuce and celery. I agree with what you said that being a vegetarian is all about making choices that will benefit the body’s needs more instead of taking up on it because it’s the trend or a matter of principle. It’s not only through vegetarianism that will make a person healthy and fit. It’s also about discipline and control to eat the right food with the right quantity and the determination to continue this habit.

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