It always makes me smile a little bit when I tell people I don't eat meat and their response is, "So what do you eat?!!!" Well, I eat all the other food that isn't meat. Mainly a whole lot of beans.
Becoming a vegetarian was like this, for me: my research into healthy-eating led me to decide I would only eat organically-fed, free-range meat. That kind of meat is both insanely expensive and very hard to find in Hawaii, so we just stopped buying/eating meat. Also, my religious beliefs advise that meat should be consumed during "times of winter, or of famine" and since it is always sunny here, and we aren't starving, I figured that supports my decision.
My primarily financial reasons for becoming a vegetarian have evolved, over time, to include many reasons to not consume meat. Here are a few of them:
- More than 70% of the grain raised in our country is used to feed farmed animals. "The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on Earth. About 20 percent of the world's population, or 1.4 billion people, could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone." quote from here
-I've done quite a bit of research on factory farming, and the way meat is raised and slaughtered in our country is terrible and disgusting. If you really want to stop eating meat, but don't know if you can kick the habit, try watching some of the mini-documentaries on youtube about slaughterhouses.
-Due to the way meat is slaughtered in our country, our meat supply is unsafe. Read Fast Food Nation for more information on that subject.
-It really bothers me to buy meat at the grocery store and have no idea where it came from. There is no way to know how the animal was slaughtered, how long ago the meat was processed, how long it has really been sitting on the store shelf.
Let me just add, that while we were in Morocco I did eat meat, without feeling guilty at all. In my mind it is very different to eat a goat that was raised by Mohamed's family, allowed to graze and wander around like goats were meant to do, and then ceremoniously and respectfully slaughtered. I still didn't love the taste, but at least I knew where the meat I was eating had come from, and how long the animal had been dead.
A few quotes on vegetarianism:
"The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? But rather, Can they suffer?" - Jeremy Bentham, 19th century Philosopher, Oxford University
"Many things made me become a vegetarian, among them the higher food yield as a solution to world hunger."– John Denver
And my favorite:
"You ask people why they have deer heads on the wall. They always say, ‘Because it’s such a beautiful animal.’ There you go. I think my mother’s attractive, but I have photographs of her." – Ellen DeGeneres