Sunday, July 15, 2012

Honest Herbivore

I noticed I've not made any posts on my vegetarianism yet. It's certainly time for that, although it's not going to be about my reasoning for why I chose to go vegetarian. It's more of a confession.

It's no secret that human beings aren't perfect. I've claimed to be a lacto-ovo vegetarian for six years, which for those of you who are unfamiliar with the terminology means that I avoid meat, poultry, and seafood but consume dairy and egg products. For most, this also means excluding animal-derived products such as gelatin (found in marshmallows, Poptarts, and of course, Jell-o) and broth made of chicken or beef.

In times of need, I make exceptions. I don't have access to my expensive meat substitutes on a regular basis due to lack of transportation (and sometimes funds, as a college student). There are times where I have to buy the $2 box of Poptarts over the $4 box of my favorite Cracklin' Oat Bran cereal. What's cheaper - my $5 "chicken" strips from Harris Teeter or some ramen noodles? Sometimes those are the choices I have to make. I know some vegetarians would rather go hungry than to compromise their diet. I respect that. Even more interesting is that I consume meat (always chicken or turkey) a few times a year if  the situation becomes desperate. I come from a struggling family that doesn't have the luxury of turning down what I'm offered if I hit a difficult time. I won't feel guilty for needing to eat.

Albeit, this happens very rarely. Those who adopt vegetarianism for animal rights reasons have in general been less tolerant of my "relapses," as opposed to vegetarians who choose the diet for other reasons (that's not to say I've received criticism from JUST animal rights activists or that all animal rights activists think this way). I don't experience guilt for consuming meat or products with trace amounts of animal in it because I'm a vegetarian because, for the most part, I just don't like meat. Sorry if that's not a political enough reason for you. Growing up, I ate hardly any meat except for chicken and turkey (which are my only meats of choice in times of weakness).

I've never had issues with picking pepperonis off a pizza or the chicken out of my lo mein. I engage in this behavior fairly often while I'm at college. Would I rather have a veggie or cheese pizza? Yes, of course. I'd certainly prefer not to pick meat out of food, but I will if that's what I have to do. I reject the label "flexitarian" - one who is primarily vegetarian but occasionally eats meat - because it describes someone who prefers to keep some meat in their diet. I do not. I'd choose the 100% meat-free option every time if I had that luxury.

Why bother even posting this if no one's caught me or those that have haven't said anything? Well, because I value honesty. 95% of the time, I AM a vegetarian. No meat, no chicken broth, no gelatin or whatever else. I have no one's values to compromise but my own. Hopefully this causes no rift between me and my vegetarian/vegan friends; if it does, then I'm glad I was honest now rather than later.

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