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25 Year Vegetarian Agonizes Over Eating Meat

Is it morally wrong to eat animals, do we really need so much protein to gain muscle, can we get the same goodness from plant and vegetable as from eating meat?

Agonizing

OMG. This topic is so hot on my head right now. I so envy the people that have a black and white opinion on this topic. I was vegetarian for 25 years and I have eaten meat for two years. It was not an easy choice.

I did it because I wanted a high protein, moderate carb diet that I really feel is a great way to maintain muscle and keep body fat low. I kept reading 1.5 grams per kg of body weight and thought this would be virtually impossible with a vegetarian diet.

I also started after watching a lion eat a gazelle. I decided that nature is cruel and I shouldn’t deprive myself of meat because I’ve been brought up to be more sensitive than I should be. The subject is hot again because I give my son meat.

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But after talking to my Dad who doesn’t know I eat meat I am once again back to this place where I wonder how I can eat a carcass when I would never kill that chicken/cow/pig myself.

Doesn’t that make me hugely hypocritical? I’m condoning its early death, unnatural lifestyle and preventing it from wondering round a field, eating grass, rolling in mud, having a family so I get convenience in my life.

I chose to eat meat to up my lean protein but the by products are the ability to eat a lean meal at a restaurant and a happy mother in law who no longer makes me soya burgers.

Are we supposed to eat meat, is it morally wrong to eat animals, do we really need as much protein to gain muscle, can we get the same goodness from plant and vegetable?

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Are humans naturally omnivores or herbivores as we share similar characteristics (sweat through pores, shorter intestines, blunt teeth).

Can we trust scientifically proven research from hippies that want to be kind to animals, can we trust scientifically proven research from conglomerate meat industries that like tobacco and alcohol make a fortune from their death riddled product?

Was the appendix designed so we could remove the toxins from raw meat? Is meat brain food? If I stop eating meat and eat moderate levels of carbs to aid body fat loss; what the hell can I eat? Did we evolve to humans by eating bone marrow?

If I go back to being a vegetarian will I frustratingly beat myself to death with a tin of lentils? Aaaaarrrgggghhhhh. Does your head hurt? Mine does.

Pick and choose what you answer if any, but if possible a non biased answer would be awesome. Thanks. TC

Savvy Vegetarian Advice:

No matter how you rationalize your dietary choices, in the end it’s entirely personal and subjective.

I think that your real reasons for eating meat after 25 years of being raised as a vegetarian have less to do with the pros & cons of a veg diet, and more to do with wanting to establish your own identity, and also fit in with your new family, have an easier life and so on.

That’s your choice, but you seem just a little conflicted about it! So I’ll go through your points and answer them one by one as briefly as I can.

With the caveat that I’m far from expert on human physiology or nutrition: From my own experience, and that of many other vegetarians, it’s quite possible to have a healthy high protein, low carb vegetarian diet to maintain a good body weight and build muscle.

Many successful athletes and body builders are vegetarian or vegan. For more info on this topic, see ‘How To Get Enough Protein In Your Veggie Diet’. [3] From there, link to the plant protein chart and sample menus.

For the rest, it’s hard for me to be non-biased, but here are my opinions, take them as you will:

I disagree that nature is inherently cruel. It’s the way God or who or whatever made it, and includes both good & bad, beautiful & ugly – often together. Lions are designed to be meat eaters, and like all creatures, they must eat to live. They hunt the old, slow, lame or sick animals, culling the herds.

Comparing humans to carnivorous animals such as lions is misleading. There’s no way that a human could run that fast, bring down a running gazelle, kill it with teeth and claws, then eat it raw – all in competition with other predators.

From the evidence of our teeth, digestive tracts, muscle & skeletal structure, and other physical characteristics, humans are designed to be herbivores. We have adapted to an omnivorous diet, although there’s really no solid evidence that we need to eat meat for health, and plenty of evidence to the contrary.

As for the moral issues, it’s well documented that nearly all animals raised for food are kept in cruel conditions. Not to belabor the point, but that’s what you’re eating when you consume beef, pork, poultry, even dairy and eggs.

Even if you eat only animals raised organically and humanely, that’s not a widely available option, and in the end you still kill and eat them after being nice to them.

I doubt if you’re more sensitive than you should be – that’s more of the ‘life is cruel’ line of thought. This may not seem like a fair question, but could you happily catch, kill, skin, eviscerate, cut up and eat an animal yourself? Personally, I killed a chicken, and caught a fish – once – and those were the last I ate.

What else can you eat? Pick from the enormous variety and endless possible combos of beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Check out Savvy Veg recipes [4], and download the nutrition report [5].

Even if you choose to eat meat for the personal reasons you’ve mentioned, which you feel are valid, you should still eat mostly vegetarian. That’s the norm in many cultures – lots of beans, grains, veggies, small amounts of fish or fowl, occasionally meat. Frequent meatless meals. That’s a possible compromise for you – easier on your conscience, better for your health, kinder to the environment.

I don’t see why you need to be frustrated. Just do your best to think for yourself, be who you are, and keep things in balance. Relax and enjoy life instead of beating yourself up with tins of lentils!

Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian

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