Wednesday, December 21, 2011

To Vegan or Not to Vegan, that is the Question

Today at lunch, the topic of becoming vegan/vegetarian came up again.

I was out with a group of gal friends and we all have teen-agers, and one of the hot trends coursing through this demographic is veganism and vegetarianism.  

Now, on the surface this sounds good because pretty much all the literature points to a mostly plant-based diet as healthy.   But, you can be a vegan and eat a completely junk diet, and that seems to be what these kids are doing. 

They're vegetarians, but they're not actually eating vegetables.  Instead, they're subsisting on carbs, and a lot of junk carbs at that.   One friend detailed how her "vegetarian" daughter was eating microwave Mac N Cheese five nights a week for dinner. 

We also had a good laugh over another friend's son who has never ate a salad in his life but now eats several "vegan" candy bars a day.

Now my teen-age soon is autistic, and there's no way he's going to ever be a vegetarian.    Let's just say that I doubt he understands where that hamburger comes from, much less make an ethical decision about whether to eat it or not. 

I myself have had the "should I be vegan/vegetarian" conversation with myself numerous times.   I eat mostly vegan/vegetarian because I believe that eating too much meat, dairy etc. is bad for one's health in the long run.

But, I've never been able to persuade myself to make that full-blown leap in veganism or vegetarianism for several reasons:

1.   I actually enjoy, meat, fish and dairy, and while I want to limit my intake, don't really want to completely restrict myself.

2.  I have zero empathy for animals.   I don't care that one died to be on my plate, and I have no problem with people hunting them.  In fact, if someone showed up on my doorstep and offered to shoot the deer that are eating my garden, I'd kiss them.

3.  I don't want to be a food pain in the ass (or FPIA as I call them).  I don't want anyone to feel they have to cook special or do anything special for me.  If I go to some one's home and they serve pork, I smile and eat (but usually not a lot just enough to keep the hostess off my back.)

4.  I'm not sure where to draw the line without being a hypocrite.  I.e., if I'm supposedly so ethical then, does that mean I can't wear leather shoes?   What about Jello?  Can I eat Jello?   How about fur?   I really can't stand that fake stuff, which is bad for the environment in any event.  

To say I won't eat animals for ethical reasons, seems to lead to the idea that I must then avoid ALL products that are animal based-not just those consumed.  

And, why should animals prevail over what's best for the environment?    Artificial man-made materials are often more environmentally damaging than animal-based products.  

After pondering this on, and on, and on, I usually just decide to keep eating an omnivore diet so that I don't have to think about these things.


  1. I don't know how long I've been reading your blog but I think this is the first time I saw you write something about your son being Autistic. My youngest daughter is Autistic as well and is nonverbal. She is very picky about her food. She loves crunchy stuff but would eat a salad if I was eating it in front of her. Which means she wants what's out of my bowl. Her new thing is Tostitos little round chips. She's obsessed with them.

    It doesn't surprise me that teenagers are eating that way.

  2. BabyWeight, I've brought up my son's autism several times. I don't highlight it all the time, but I do mention it from time to time. You probably just missed it. My son's verbal (andd nonverbal) communication skills are quite compromised, but he can make his basic needs known. I don't allow junk food in the house so he doesn't usually get things like Tostitos. He's allergic to both wheat and dairy which limits his food options.

  3. I have cut a lot of meat from my diet, but I will never become a vegetarian for pretty much the same reasons you list. When I do eat out, I always order the steak. It is just soo good.

    My only comment on point 2 is that I disagree with what corporations are doing in general to our foods and especially to our meat. 70% of all antibodies in the country now go to keeping animals alive long enough to slaughter them. They are needed because what is being done to the animals is not natural and they would drop dead before slaughter time if it was not for the drugs.

    It means the meat we eat is not as good for us as it would have been 50 years ago. I have been planning to start buying meat from the local farms that raise their stock on grass. The meat is much healthier for us. I am hoping to start doing this in 2012.

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