I recently became a vegetarian almost two months ago. My daughters, who are big animal lovers, joined me. It was a little more difficult than I expected in the beginning for me to find meat-free meals for the whole week. Sometimes, I wondered if we could withstand the lifestyle change long-term, but then there was always something that would remind me why I wanted to do it, like even last night’s question on Chopped about a deckle of beef. I had no idea what it was but just the word sounded sickening. In fact, a deckle of beef is the part of a cow that is often overlooked by diners and chefs alike because the cut contains a thick strip of fat and some connective tissue. The only thing worse than the thought of eating connective tissue would be serving it to my kids.
The decision to become a vegetarian started with my daughter. She became a vegetarian a full month before I did. In the end, my decision to do it was two-fold: I firmly believe in the protection of animals, and eating meat is just not something I could consciously continue to do. I also believe eating a meat-free diet is a healthier way to live. With all the recent talk about Taco Bell and their fake meat substitute blend, it only reaffirms my decision. Does anyone really think they are getting real meat at any of these fast food places?
I first really considered going meat-free after seeing Omnivore’s Dilemma author Michael Pollan talk about his film, Food, Inc. on Oprah. Seeing how animals are treated and what kind of lives they live only to become dinner was horrifying. I even got to the point that preparing meat from the supermarket caused me distress. The more I thought about what the animal suffered through to get to our plate and the more I related the farm animal to my own pets, the more I had to stop eating it. My daughter is obsessed with Animal Planet, and we often watch Animal Cops. There are some abuse cases that honestly not only bring tears to my eyes but infuriate me when I think about how cruel people can be to helpless animals.
With so many vegetable substitutes on the market, we quickly learned how to create a multitude of meals, and it’s been fun learning how to cook new dishes. The kids are eating more legumes, soy, nuts and vegetables and I don’t feel that we’re missing anything. We’re certainly not missing the hormones, byproducts and bacteria that can come from eating meat.
Like my daughter says, while we can’t help every animal that is getting abused or slaughtered, we can help by not participating in the sale of it all.
Would you ever go vegetarian? Do the news stories surrounding meat, fake meat and hormones impact what you buy?