Some people become vegetarian for religious reasons, others for moral reason, but I actually became vegetarian on accident. I know, it sounds crazy, but that's really what happened! One day I was eating lunch with a friend who asked if I was vegetarian (because she had never seen me eat meat). Initially, I said no, but as I thought about her question, I realized I hadn't had meat in 4 months and prior to that it had been another 4 or 5 months since I'd had meat. What was more, I didn't miss it; the times I'd had meat in the past year had been when I went home where vegetarian options aren't plentiful or when my parents had come to visit and I'd cooked meat for them... So I changed my answer to yes.
In order to sustain a lifestyle change such as diet, you have to have a reason that motivates you—especially if you actually enjoy the taste of meat! In my case, there are actually 4 beliefs/ideas that motivate me to stay vegetarian (now that I know I'm vegetarian).
If you've read any of my posts on the dietary law, you know I believe that the dietary law from the Old Testament was never revoked and still stands. Unclean meats such as pork and shellfish were banished from my diet long before I became a vegetarian. Conviction from the Holy Spirit is my motivation not to consume these particular meats. Although the Bible is clear that we have permission to eat clean meats like chicken and beef, it can also be seen that God's perfect design did not include the slaughtering of animals. I also noticed that during the Exodus, the Israelites complained about the lack of meat, which means the manna God fed them was vegetarian! Furthermore, in Heaven, there won't be death, which also means we won't be killing animals. So, in short, I think it's perfectly fine to eat clean meats, but I think God would prefer us to eat as little meat as possible to preserve life.
Preservation of Life
Speaking of preserving life, could you kill an animal to eat it? Most of us buy meat from the grocery store without ever having come into contact with the animal. Those who don't cook might not even see it raw and bloody. This makes it easy to disconnect the fact that an innocent animal had to die for the meat we consume. Out of sight, out of mind. However, having grown up on a farm and spending time with these animals, cows in particular, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that I would not kill an animal to eat it. If me and one of my family's cows were on a desert island with no food, I do not think I would be able to kill the cow for food. At the end of the day, I feel like if I'm not willing to get my own hands dirty, I shouldn't be eating the spoils.
So, animal rights kind of goes hand in hand with the preservation of life. However, it goes deeper than why an animal's life ends. When I say I couldn't kill an animal for food, I'm talking about a happy, healthy animal. The animals kept on factory farms are neither happy nor healthy. They are subjected to harsh environments and cruel treatment simply for our gluttonous pleasure. That's not OK. I refuse for my money to fund these industries' horrible treatment of animals. If you want to see some of this for yourself, there are a host of documentaries on Netflix.
I guess taste is what really helps me stay vegetarian. If I'm honest, I was never the kid who had to be told to eat her veggies. Often it was a chunk of meat that was left on my plate, either for my dad to consume or place in the fridge for me to eat later. I just don't enjoy meat, or the heavy feeling I get after eating it. When many people become vegetarian, they use meat substitutes to fill themselves up, as well as, combat cravings. The only problem is that meat substitutes taste less like meat the closer the taste of real meat is to your short term memory. This can make it really difficult to stick with it. For those who actually enjoy the taste of meat who are thinking of becoming vegetarian, I offer this as a suggestion: think of your favorite meat dish, is it actually the meat you enjoy or some type of sauce? For instance, steak was my go to celebration meat, but what I really enjoyed was the A1 sauce. Smothered chicken was go to dinner, but I really wanted the mushroom gravy I would create while smothering the chicken. Once I realized that, I started creating vegetarian dishes that feature those sauces and/or seasonings. You can also try marinating your meat substitutes in these sauces or seasonings as well.
Next in the Journey
The “why’ is nice and all, but “how” is really what a lot of people want to know! Stay tuned for posts which will feature answers to some of the frequently asked questions I get about being vegetarian, how I broke the news to my family, and how I deal with it in areas that aren't vegetarian friendly. If there are specific questions or topics you'd like to read, feel free to use the contact page to send me a message!