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Vegetarian Thinking of Quitting - MOVED from General Topics

  • d

First of all, all respondents are asked to PLAY NICE.

I've been a vegetarian for two years now, for ethical reasons. I thought long and hard about it one summer and I felt I could not abide the suffering that animals undergo just so I might have a tasty meal.

Perhaps this is what doomed me from the start. My appetite wanted meat (it never seemed physically repulsive, I had grown up with it) but my conscience/intellect refused to allow it. I have always loved food and cooking so being a vegetarian was novel for a while (the first year) but soon became a chore. I resented always being overcharged for vegetable-pasta when eating out with friends and family, or being made to eat alone when visiting at home (because my family continued their meat eating ways and the kitchen accomodates but one cook), etc. Of course, I miss my favourites: very simple meat dishes like spicy sausages, steak and Italian sandwiches.

I'm thinking of starting to eat meat once a week, as long as it is responsibly raised and slaughtered. That will remove most of my objections.
But I'm wondering if anyone has been in this same situation? How do you deal with those who have come to know you as a vegetarian, and make fun of your 'slipping'?

Furthermore, I'm quite thin now and I like myself roughly in this proportion (if only because I'm too cheap to buy new clothes!). Anyone have any trouble in this respect?

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  1. I'm being a good chowhound citizen and moving this. Hope that's okay.

    In my late teens/early 20s, I was vegetarian. Then after getting married, I ate normally. I "reverted" to healthy eating when I was pregnant and have been pretty consistently following that now, but I'm not a vegetarian.

    As much as I like fruits, vegetables and grains, I find them terribly boring without meat. I detest faux burgers, soy cheese or anything that's trying to overtly replace meat/dairy. Yuk.

    What I have taken from being a vegetarian (which was for health and humane reasons) is that I am still a conscious eater. I don't buy much meat for our entire family, but I try to buy from local farmers, local butchers, etc. We don't gorge ourselves on meat by any means. But it is part of our diet. As a vegetarian, I became borderline anemic, which was one of the reasons I re-introduced meat.

    But at the same time, I also won't buy out-of-season produce because the act of trucking/flying it thousands of miles to my grocery store can't be helping the environment.

    We don't eat out much. We don't eat fast food. I will usually get a salad of some sort if I am forced to eat in a chain restaurant. Or I'll get soup, preferably something vegetable based. I have found if you don't make a big deal out of what you eat, other people won't either. And I have also found that when you start special requesting veg food, you'll be overcharged and underwhelmed.

    I don't think humans are natural vegetarians. We have incisors. As someone pointed out, we're at the top of the food chain. Kudos though to those who make the decision not to eat meat.

    15 Replies
    1. re: MkeLaurie

      I was a vegetarian for about 8 years many years ago. When I was 6 months pregnant with my second child I was HUNGRY. I started eating a little poultry then and segged into eating everything ( except liver which I still hate). I really think at the time that I craved protein. I think I eat much healthier now than when I was vegetarian...much less saturated fats because I limit cheese. The irony to all this is that the child I was carrying when I started craving meat again has been a vegetarian since age 16 (now 24) and lives on an organic farm. I ( jokingly) blamed her for my lapse back into meat eating!

      1. re: meagan

        During my early vegetarian stages (late teens), I actually ate very poorly. My typical "vegetarian" meal was fries and a Coke at McDonald's.

        Ah, youth.

        But then I cut out all the food that was bad for me which, because I was a notoriously picky eater back then, left me with an exceptionally limited diet. I didn't like beans, wouldn't eat spinach, etc. It was very nutritionally unbalanced.

        Thankfully, I'm now a much more adventerous eater/better cook and eat a wider variety of good foods.

        1. re: MkeLaurie

          ... fries at mcdonalds are made with beef bouillioun. so not only "unhealthy"... (oy, you should have seen the Indians when they found out!)

          1. re: Chowrin

            tallow. beef fat, not bouillon. i don't think you can actually FRY anything in bouillon.

            1. re: linguafood

              Actually, he's right. nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/ingredientslist.pdf says they use natural beef flavor IN the fries:

              French Fries:
              Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), salt. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

              1. re: Chris VR

                natural beef flavor =/= beef bouillon. and if you read the ingredient list, this "natural beef flavor" (ya gotta just love the 'natural' part) is made from wheat & milk derivatives.

                iircc, some crazy religious cult -- are there any others? -- sued mcd's in the 90s or 80s because the fries were fried in beef tallow.

                my guess is they don't use any ACTUAL meat products IN or around their fries anymore.

                some pork intestinal fungus apparently produces some lovely vanilla or strawberry... can't remember which now, and i'm too lazy to provide any links.

                1. re: linguafood

                  http://www.commondreams.org/headlines...

                  "McDonald's this week confirmed that its French fries are prepared with beef extract... The list of French-fry ingredients that McDonald's offers at its franchises and on its Web site includes potatoes, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and ''natural flavor.'' The list does not mention that the ''natural flavor'' comes from beef. To discover that, one would have to contact a McDonald's customer-satisfaction representative. "

                  Fine, it's not beef boullion but it's also not vegetarian, since it is using a beef product. The article is 10 years old but seems to reflect the current ingredient list. Seems crazy to me that they wouldn't have found some way to do it without beef but if they had, I'd have thought they'd have noted that in the ingredient list, since it was an issue previously.

                  1. re: Chris VR

                    i'm still confused. the ingredient list says "natural beef flavor (wheat & milk derivatives)". yes, the milk presumably comes from cows. but it doesn't have any meat or beef in it.

                    also, if this article is 10 years old, this may well have been the reaction to the 'scandal' i was referring to.

                    i frankly don't care. i eat beef, but not at mcdonald's. not even their fries '-)

                    1. re: linguafood

                      um, lingua, I think your "crazy religious cult" would have been followers of the HIndu religion -- neither crazy nor a cult.

                      I believe that McDo quit using "natural beef flavor" in response to the suit, though.

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        i guess it comes down to what one defines as crazy. in that regard, i personally don't see much difference between religions/cults. ymmv.

                        1. re: linguafood

                          only that it wasn't some obscure little fringe group, that's all.

                        2. re: sunshine842

                          All I'm saying is they still list "natural beef flavor" on their website as an ingredient in the fries. In the past, it was confirmed that "natural flavor" was a result of beef extract, and I'd think that if that was not currently the case, they would make a point of explaining that the "beef flavor" didn't actually come from beef to appease the vegetarians that actually care. I'm not a vegetarian and don't care about this enough to call McDonald's to find out, but if anyone else does, I'd be interested to hear the result.

                          1. re: Chris VR

                            Also, http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.htm lists for McDonald's:

                            "Food Items That Appear To Be Vegetarian But Are Not: French fries (beef- and dairy-derived natural flavors cooked in oil containing milk ingredients);"

                            A few other sites confirm the same. McDonald's fries are not vegetarian-friendly. But Burger King's fries are.

                  2. re: Chris VR

                    Gross. That is a truly disgusting ingredient list. I've never liked McD's fries, and now I know why!

                  3. re: linguafood

                    they soak 'em in bouillon. think they still use soy to fry.

          2. m
            Morton the Mousse

            I have countless friends who have made the conversion from vegetarian/vegan to omnivore. I was raised in a vegetarian household, and my partner was vegetarian for 11 years. I have spent an enormous amount of time researching the science and pondering the morality behind vegetarianism. I hope that my thoughts are helpful to you.

            The health issue:
            Most of the health problems associated with eating meat derive from eating an excess of meat (heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol) or from eating low grade meat (hormone imbalances, mad cow, e coli). There are no health problems associated with eating a moderate amount of high quality meat. Limit your meat consumption to reasonable servings a few meals a week. Eat lots of fresh fruits, veggies, whole grains and legumes. Many vegetarians will have long term health problems due to mineral deficiencies.
            There are far more health problems associated with a vegetarian diet than with a well balanced, omnivorous diet.

            The moral issue:
            Consider the Native American, the Bushman, the Aborigine. Do you consider these people to be immoral? They hold a great deal of respect for the animals that they eat as a necessity of life. Condemn the morality of meat eating and you condemn all hunter gatherer societies. Consider the wild cat, the bear, the chicken, the ape. Are these animals immoral? They eat a carnivorous/omnivorous diet because that is their nature. There is nothing immoral about following nature.

            The environmental issue:
            It is impossible to live in our society without impacting the environment. Even eating a vegan diet- the crops you eat displace native plants and animals and eliminate natural ecosystems. It is always a matter of degree. When you eat sustainably raised meats you are making less of an impact than when you eat factory farmed foods. When you eat small portions of meat you are making less of an impact than when you eat the diet of the average American. I buy all of my food from local farmers markets and I feel that my diet is more environmentally sound than that of most vegetarians. When I discuss my food choices with all but the most dogmatic vegetarians, they are impressed.

            The social issue:
            If people tease you, teach them. Explain why you decided to begin eating meat again and how you have come to be a responsible meat eater. It will take people some time to get used to it, but the teasing will not last long. Mrs. Mousse was vegetarian for 11 years and she was teased plenty when she first started eating meat, but now it hardly gets mentioned (she was suffering from severe anemia although she had an impeccable vegetarian diet).

            Ultimately, the single most important thing is your health. You need to do what is healthiest for you. If your body is craving meat, you need to eat meat.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Morton the Mousse

              I don't mean to be contentious, but condemning meat eating in the 21st century US is not the same as condemning all hunter-gatherer or meat-eating societies. Clearly there is a massive difference between say, pre-colonial Native Americans and Perdue Chicken farms.

              also, choosing to not to eat meat because it doesn't agree with your morals isn't necessarily condemning anyone else.

              I don't eat most types of meat because I cannot ethically/morally support the practices commonly found in raising animals for slaughter. My husband eats all types of meat, in large quantities. So does everyone else in my family and nearly all of my friends. I don't consider them immoral nor do I condemn them for meat eating. Occasionally I even cook them meat. I know that there are lots of self-righteous vegetarians and vegans out there, but not all of them are like that.

              1. re: nc213

                but perdue chicken is made with flowers! ;-) sorry, I can't help but tease...

              2. re: Morton the Mousse

                There are things in human nature that "civilized" society strives to curb such as infidelity, rape, theft, & murder. These are clearly part of our nature as they have been around forever, moreover, certain other primates engage in forms of these behaviors. We assume they don't know the difference between right & wrong... Furthermore, hunter-gatherers obviously have different circumstances with more of a need to utelize what is available. It's kind of like saying that if you don't think the Donner Party was wrong to eat dead humans to survive, than cannibalism must be OK. I'm not saying I think eating meat is murder (even though I kind of do and I'm a hypocrite because I do it), only that this particular argument against vegetarianism, along with "but we have canine teeth", does not stand up to argument.

                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                  this is a brilliant post -- even 6 years on...

                  Cogent, thoughtful, and logical -- and not a flicker of hysteria anywhere.

                  Bravo.

                2. I'm moving this post (which is not mine) because I was happy to read it today. Cheers to curiousbaker!

                  Re(1): Vegetarian Thinking of Quitting
                  From: kjweldon@yahoo.com (curiousbaker)
                  Posted: August 02, 2005 at 12:06:46

                  I was a veggie for six years, and gave it up when I was in culinary school. It's hard to eat a plateful of side dishes while your classmates are downing duck. I didn't have the willpower. I also started craving red meat, which I had never particularly liked. I've always been slightly anemic, so it wasn't surprising I would want meat as I got older. I've also known a lot of vegetarians who had no desire for meat in their early twenties, but started to crave it as they got a little older. Bodies change.
                   
                  Like you, my major concerns were environmental/ethical. I don't like the way animals are raised in the U.S., but you don't have to buy your meat from the usual sources. I have become an evangelist for buying meat directly from small organic farms. I bought some pork recently, and the farmer took us for a walk in the woods to see the pigs. They had three acres of New England forest to roam in, and he moved them to a different three-acre area every week or so. These were happy pigs, and the land was being used to support people in such a sustainable, reasonable way. I would rather eat pigs that have been raised like that than soybeans grown in vast monoculture farms in the Midwest, then shipped to New England by frieght. Searching for humanely, sustainably grown meat is an adventure - it's a bit of work, but you also meet interesting people.
                   
                  I am glad I spent a few years without meat, because being vegetarian definitely expanded my culinary horizons. I am not dependent on meat in my meals, and I generally only cook with meat on the weekends, though I might eat leftovers during the week. I feel like a meat meal should be something of an event, as a sign of respect for the animal, but also as a matter of frugality. Vegetables still make up the backbone of my diet, and I think that's healthy.
                   
                  I was plump as a veggie and I'm plump as a meat eater. My problem is sugar and certain medications, not meat. I've know people who've gained weight adding meat back into their diets, and people who have lost weight. A lot depends on the kind of vegetarian you've been. If you eat lots of cheese and sugar and white flour (coke-and-pizza vegetarians), introducing meat might actually help you lose weight. But even if your diet is excellent, a weekly meat meal is unlikely to make a big difference.
                   
                  As for people who might tease you, you just can't be worried about that sort of thing. Vegetarianism is hard, and lots of people stop doing it. (In fact, I can think of seven former vegetarian friends off the top of my head.) Anyone who would tease you about your eating choices is clearly immature and not worth paying attention to. (Of course, if you were a particularly self-righteous, irritating vegetarian, which it doesn't sound like you were, you will get what's coming to you.)

                  Link: The Seasonal Cook
                   

                  12 Replies
                  1. re: pitu

                    How did you find the pig farmer? I live in the Boston suburbs and have been trying to buy meat from small organic sources. I'd appreciate it very much if you could tell me how to contact this farmer or any others.

                    1. re: joysea
                      c
                      curiousbaker

                      I got my pork, which is amazingly delicious, from Mamashoe Farm in Petersham. (www.mamashoe.org) He's just started selling pork to Oleana, so his supply is likely to get limited fast. He also sells at the Tuesday Copley Square farmers' market. I bought a whole pig and split it four ways with friends. It was $5.50/pound, with the fatback and trotters thrown in for free.

                      Well-raised pork was hard to find; I hope he can managed to secure himself in his business through the restaurant market while still being able to sell to individuals. Hard to do while keeping small.

                      Grass-fed lamb is actually pretty widely available, comparatively. I bought from Sojourner Sheep, which was written up in Yankee recently, and so may also be experiencing more demand. More success for the local farmers! I put in my order for fall lamb already.
                      I found this farm through the eatwild website, which gives information on places to find grass-fed meat by state - www.eatwild.com.

                      From the same site, I found River Rock Farm, which is not the same River Rock Farm which sells at a number of farmers' markets in Boston, though I hear they're good, too. I bought first a 1/4, then a 1/2 cow, split again with friends. (Also $5.50/pound, plus free stock bones.)

                      A freezer is really helpful if you're trying to buy this way. Individual cuts are very expensive, but whole/half animals are pretty cheap, considering.

                      EatWild also has great information about the health benefits of grass-fed meat. I've become convinced that a lot of the human health problems related to meat are a result of what the meat was fed and how it was raised.

                      Good luck.

                      Link: http://seasonalcook.blogspot.com/

                      1. re: joysea

                        I found a 'meat club' not long ago that I've been dying to join but I just don't have the freezer space to do it in NYC. In the end, it's super cheap and everything comes from small farms, all organic. Check link below.

                        I figured it out once, with my weekly delivery of organic produce from my CSA and if I could do this meat of the month club, I'd be saving a TON from what I spend at Whole Foods for meat and veggies.

                        Good luck on your search! I'm so heartened by the number of people on this board that have made changes in their lives towards treating animals and workers and the earth in a more ethical manner. I really believe if we keep it up eventually they'll have to change the entire industry.

                        In regards to the masses of soybeans that were mentioned above: some interesting studies out recently about soybeans and the level of estrogen in the body and reduced sperm count in men...I'm not sure tofu is the answer either.

                        Link: http://www.wholesomeharvest.com/

                        1. re: krissywats

                          So where are these studies? I keep hearing people talking about soybeans and estrogen... but I can't find any actual resources.

                          1. re: Noah

                            I have a medical journal mag at home (I am not there now) - I promise I'll post the study when I get back. It was a natural health/medical journal we got at Whole Foods and I can't, for the life of me, remember the name of it but something like the Journal of Natural Medicine or something like that. Quite extensive article about this study. We were floored by the results. And we stopped eating edamame and soy burgers....but I have tumors that are possibly estrogen related so I have to be careful.

                            1. re: Noah

                              This is a good tool for that sort of thing...not sure how science-y a study you want.

                              Link: http://scholar.google.com/

                              1. re: Noah

                                You can't find the studies because they are bogus.
                                If increased estrogen and reduced sperm count could be blamed on soybeans, Asia would have the highest cancer rates and the lowest birth rates. And we all know that's not true. Eating meat causes all sorts of cancer, ecoli, mad cow, heart disease, obesity... and who knows yet what all those lovely chemicals, growth hormones, and antibiotics will do to you. Maybe if you all hunted and slaughtered your own meat instead of rolling up to the takeout window in your giant dvd playing SUV you wouldn't be so fat! Good luck!

                                1. re: Pablo
                                  m
                                  Morton the Mousse

                                  So much for playing nice...

                                  "You can't find the studies because they are bogus."

                                  Read The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla Saniel, PhD and then tell me that soy is healthy. In fact, Japanese males are starting to have serious problems with low sperm count and high estrogen levels. Japan has not had this problem traditionally because the traditional Japanese diet had very little soy in it, usually in a fermented form. The new trend of mass market soy products is leading to long term health problems that are only starting to appear. Soy is a very unhealthy food and I will not eat it.

                                  "Eating meat causes all sorts of cancer, ecoli, mad cow, heart disease, obesity... and who knows yet what all those lovely chemicals, growth hormones, and antibiotics will do to you."

                                  Have you read the numerous posts about eating high quality meat in moderation that is raised without hormones or antibiotics? None of these problems are associated with a well balanced, omniverous diet of organic meat and produce.

                                  Link: http://www.thewholesoystory.com/index...

                                  1. re: Pablo

                                    Dude. Relax. I eat only organic, hate SUVs, never eat fast food and I'M the one that brought it up. The medical digest I read was from a Whole Foods - a holistic (read that as 'hippy') medical journal doing a study on soybeans. Search around before you decide it's all bogus. No one is out to get the hippies. This is a serious crunchy granola hippy relating this.....

                                    And because you say 'we all know that isn't true' doesn't make it so.

                                    Read some studies (by hippies):

                                    http://www.nutrition4health.org/NOHAn...

                                    http://www.wholistichealingresearch.c...

                                    (I mean, serious granolas on that last one
                                    )
                                    Evidently, the issue for what is eaten in fermented soy products is different than the way we are consuming soy products here:

                                    "There are some redeeming qualities to soy, however these are found primarily in fermented soy products like tempeh, miso and natto and soybean sprouts. If you want to get some health benefits from soy, stick to these four forms and pass up the processed soy milks, soy ‘burgers’, soy ‘ice cream’, soy ‘cheese’, and the myriad of other soy junk foods that are so readily disguised as health foods."

                                    Just like everything, moderation, being careful if you have certain predispositions (like to estrogens), and realizing the jury is still out on a lot of issues.

                                    But it helps to realize that yes, there is merit to some of this stuff and that Asian cultures are eating the fermented kind - not soy cheese. Otherwise you're just as bad as the SUV driving, fast-food eaters you are rallying against.

                                    1. re: Pablo
                                      s
                                      SuzyInChains

                                      A little research says otherwise.

                                      You want a study? How about this study from the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health? It found that "male rats whose mothers were fed diets containing genistein, a chemical found in soybeans, developed abnormal reproductive organs and experienced sexual dysfunction as adults."

                                      Also, "the researchers say the increasing popularity of soy and soy-based foods may warrant further research to determine if genistein exposure in the womb and during breast-feeding influences human reproductive development."

                                      Suzy, who happily drives her SUV to pick up beef at the neighborhood supermarket, and is very grateful for animal-based research.

                                      Link: http://www.hopkinschildrens.org/pages...

                                2. re: joysea

                                  http://www.psfc.blogspot.com/
                                  is my new favorite source of info on organic products - I just read something on this blog about organic meats that gives the name of the purveyor.
                                  The blog is from a members grocery store in NY, but could be helpful I think . . .

                              2. l
                                La Dolce Vita

                                I used to be a vegetarian 20 years ago. I did it mostly for health reasons, but also for philosophical reasons. I am no longer a vegetarian. Weight is not an issue for me, whether I'm eating meat or not. Sugar is my vice, and I have to control that to keep from getting fat.

                                I am sympathetic to the logic of vegetarianism. In an abundant society such as ours, it seems cruel to eat animals when there are soybeans. On the other hand we humans are hard-wired to crave meat, because it is a high-quality source of protein. Should we give into the craving? I have not resolved this quandary to my satisfaction. Most of the time, I don’t think about it, and I eat animals when the mood strikes.

                                As an aside, I am impatient with the self-righteousness of some vegetarians. I know a vegetarian who is more concerned with how he treats animals than how he treats his own children. I once saw him being unkind to his 7-year-old, and then spend the next 10 minutes trying to catch a wasp in the kitchen so that he could release it outside, unharmed. From a moral standpoint, he would have been better off spending the time improving his relationship with his child instead of bothering with a stupid wasp. You don’t strike me as a person in this camp, I’m just making an observation about attitudes I’ve seen among certain vegetarians.

                                As far as the health aspects of eating meat, I recommend some entertaining reading. Gary Taube’s excellent essay, “The Soft Science of Dietary Fat” debunks some of the major criticisms leveled against a well-marbled steak. Here is a link I found: http://www.second-opinions.co.uk/taub.... If this link doesn’t work, do a google search and you’ll find other sites that carry this essay.

                                There is a book, “Sacred Cow, Abominable Pig” by Marvin Harris, which talks about food and cultures. Among other things, he discusses the fact that humans, when given a choice between say, eating insects versus eating mammals for protein, will choose the mammals.

                                I was going to recommend that you check into buying kosher meats, since the laws of Kashut specifically seek to avoid animal cruelty. For example, Jews are forbidden to remove the limb of an animal for consumption and leave the rest of the animal alive. When gathering eggs, the hen must be sent away so she does not see her eggs being removed. The knife used for slaughtering must be as sharp as possible to minimize suffering of the animal.

                                However, these ancient laws don’t necessarily forbid some of the practices of factory farming, such as keeping veal immobile. There is a debate in the Jewish community about extending the laws of Kashrut to keep up with advances in animal farming. Here is a link that presents this debate succinctly:
                                http://learn.jtsa.edu/topics/luminari...

                                As far as people teasing you, humbug on them. Once they see you’re not bothered by what they think, they’ll leave you alone. You can use the excuse that your doctor told you to start eating some meat. People usually shut up fast when you start a sentence with “my doctor told me…”

                                1. Some very interesting responses, and interesting information (I'm intrigued at the idea of not letting the hen see her eggs being removed).

                                  I wonder if it would have worked out differently for you if you had slipped into it gradually, as a friend of mine did, eating less meat until it gradually disappeared from your diet. I also wonder if you might have an easier time if you didn't precisely quantify it now as once a week.

                                  As an omnivore, I have never been in the same eating situation. However, I do have an opinion about people making fun of you, which is that you should never let it daunt you. If the teasing comes from friends, we can hope it will be gentle; if from non-friends, you'll completely ignore it. And you'll probably evolve two responses - one will be a funny rejoinder, and the other will be a serious response about your considerable thought on the subject. Don't worry about that part. Friends tease each other.

                                  Besides, you're not "slipping" - you're re-thinking things. We all do the best we can to juggle our priorities.

                                  1. I eat meat now, after years of not doing so. I eat what I think of as "ethical meat" - free-range, organicly raised - except when I am drunk.

                                    Who is going to mock you? The carnivores will get over it, but the vegetarians may keep on forever... let them. Or if you feel hostile, ask them about sustainable vegan agriculture. There is no answer to that one.

                                    I gained a lot of weight when I started eating meat. But I had been about thirty pounds underweight before then.

                                    Now I am overweight. That's another story that I don't think has to do with my very moderate meat consumption.

                                    What I'm getting at in general is: please eat good meat from ethical producers, in moderate amounts, and take care of yourself. No one can mock you for that.

                                    1. Just to say that I'm a former semi-veg (for some reason I decided poultry was okay), went to eating all sorts of meats, and am now finding that for ethical reasons I am trying to curb my meat intake and trying to ensure it comes from sustainable farms. So I understand a bit of what you are going through, although the ethical issues came to me after I became an omnivore.

                                      For me it's about mutual respect and acknowledging the gift the the animal has given to you. So if I buy from people who treat it with the greatest respect and kindness, I feel okay about it. But we all have our different perspectives which do change over time. Change is good; it means you learn new things.

                                      The flack I have gotten was not from my semi-veggie days but from my mom who, when I explained recently that I avoid supermarkets and buy organics, said "You better not tell people that at your new job in the America, because you'll be looked at as weird." (she lives in New Jersey--but many of you are Americans so surely she's the one with a narrow view...) So I suppose no matter what you do it's always going to be someone!

                                      Good luck to you,
                                      Dawn

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: drdawn

                                        I was a vegan for awhile (I even worked as a vegan chef) but had to give it up because I changed jobs and found it incredibly difficult to get enough food to keep myself alive (this was back in the "steak 'n' cocaine" 80s). I know it's a lot easier now, but back then if you went to the average restaurant with a friend, your vegetarian options were usually limited to: baked potato, steamed broccoli, salad. To this day I almost never eat baked potatoes or broccoli, and am extremely particular about the salads I eat.

                                        My sister and brother-in-law make a point never to eat any mammals, and I have done that too. I agree with you about having respect for the animal, and I believe in "nose-to-tail" eating--if you're going to use an animal for meat, then you should be prepared to eat any edible part.

                                        As for shunning supermarkets, I've been doing that for years...I buy organic produce, and humanely raised meats.

                                        1. re: drdawn

                                          Hey Dr. Dawn
                                          I'm a Jersey Girl and am a vegetarian for the same reason as the original poster. Funny that your mom would think that it wouldn't go over well...(unless I interpreted it wrong)...the only questions I ever get are, How can you be married to a chef and not eat meat?
                                          ha ha I say, that's why he married me, I am such a challenge to cook for ;)

                                          Factory farms are awful...I miss meat sometimes too but cannot bring myself to accept and eat meat that has been raised in such a vile manner
                                          It is a shame that many of the farmers turned to the factory method just to stay alive and afloat

                                          1. re: NeedAdvice

                                            Have you ever tried only eating meats that are from small farmers who raise beef humanely "sp" ?

                                            there are pleanty of small producers who raise animals in a good humane way.

                                            organic farmers are the most caring of all i do believe.
                                            But do some research, dont just dicount all beef as factory beef.

                                            Sure its more expensive but well worth it.

                                        2. I think we should all be concerned about how are animals are raised and consumed. Factory farming is disgusting and and so are the products it produces.

                                          From another perspective, free range eggs and chicken, oganic milk from a small producer, and most grass fed animals also taste better.

                                          I would have more respect for animal rights groups if they spent more time talking about chicken production than fur.

                                          I think you might find the article below interesting.

                                          Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/05/01/sty...

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: JudiAU

                                            Thanks for linking that article! Really interesting read. I think they also wrote about this farm in a (relatively) recent issue of Gourmet.

                                          2. I hope it's OK that bump this thread up... some 6 years later!

                                            I'm wondering if anyone out there has more recent experience with transitioning from a vegetarian diet? I read an article a few months back about more and more vegetarians who were beginning to eat meat again, as it has become easier for people to find humanely-raised beef, chicken, etc., these days.

                                            I've been a vegetarian for 14 years -- since I was 17. That's an awfully long time to go without eating meat, and I don't even have the slightest idea how to cook it! But today was reading about some taco trucks in our area and just had this feeling that I really wanted to eat those tacos, and they have meat in them, and maybe I'm just "done" with being a vegetarian after all these years.

                                            I guess I'm sick of feeling like I'm missing out on all the "great" food experiences that everyone else gets to have, and I feel like a very amateurish cook since I haven't the slightest idea how to cook a chicken breast or a piece of bacon.

                                            However, the thought of eating an animal still repulses me a bit, and I (as lame as this might sound) feel like being a vegetarian is part of my identity now... it would be odd to change.

                                            Has anyone quit a vegetarian diet recently? What challenges did you face? Was it worth it, or not?

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: anakalia

                                              No personal experience to relate as I am content with my veg lifestyle. These might be if interest/help to you though - good luck!

                                              http://letthemeatmeat.com/
                                              http://voraciouseats.com/2010/11/19/a...

                                              1. re: enbell

                                                We aren't veg, but we have substantially reduced the amount and frequency of meat consumption here. We have no moral issue with meat, but a cost factor is pretty big, and I think meat is going to get more expensive. I use meat chinese food style (in the old days) which is more as a seasoning than an main part of the meal.

                                                1. re: The 1st and only KSyrahSyrah

                                                  that's my style too. too much meat seems wasteful.

                                              2. re: anakalia

                                                My husband & I were vegetarian (ate dairy) for about 15 years. We started to eat fish a few years ago. Believe it or not, my husband was having trouble with his weight and cholesterol. It was always hard to eat out, we always ended up with pasta or pizza and not always that great. It was easier to be a vegetarian at home because I love to cook. Anyway, eating fish has been fun and so fun to cook. We both feel great eating fish. Our friends were sort of happy because we have a bigger list of restaurants to choose from and when I entertain I can serve some sort of fish. The only thing I hate is my husband refers to us as vegetarians who eat fish. The truth is, we used to be vegetarians, we now eat fish... Do what you want, you should not care what anyone else thinks.

                                                1. re: Alica

                                                  As the friend of and frequent dinner-planner for a group that includes a lot of vegetarians, I just want to say BLESS YOU for eating some fish. ;-) I'm SURE your friends are even more thrilled than you know.

                                                  I totally feel you on the weight thing, too. Veg choices on menus are so often fat bombs. Or you could have a nice, clean plate of steamed/raw shellfish. Or sushi!

                                                  1. re: danna

                                                    Thanks for your reply! I know, I know! It has been fun in restaurants and dinner at home! Fish tacos for dinner tonight! Yeah!

                                                2. re: anakalia

                                                  Thanks for bumping this anakalia. I wonder how dukeofyork made out. If you are still around let us know duke. I'm coming at this from the opposite end kind of. I'm trying raw vegan this summer. My friend has been having some health issues, last year we tried gluten-free and that was certainly an adventure. I'd walk through hell for him so raw vegan it is.
                                                  Do you have a vegetarian support group of friends and family etc? Or are you mostly doing this on your own? That could make a big difference. I guess what I'm really wondering is who decided that vegetarianism is an all or nothing concept? I know that I absorbed that attitude through my very pores somehow because years ago my friend John told me he was part vegetarian and I'm very sorry to say that I mocked him for it. I've now decided I was wrong. Still not sure where I got the idea though. I say try a taco and see how you like it. My prediction is that you will still be mostly vegetarian and I don't think that is hypocritical or wrong.
                                                  There are some pretty hard core raw vegans in the group I have met but most have found that it is best to eat a cooked meal once every two weeks for a number of reasons (don't want to hijack the thread by going into details) If you decide to go ahead and eat the tacos anakalia don't think of it as quitting vegetarianism, but more like adding something new once in awhile for variety. No one will make you burn your vegetarian card I hope. Let us know how it works out for ya.

                                                3. Make sure your Slim Jims are responsibly raised and you'll be okay.

                                                  1. I was vegetarian for years, as was my spouse, then we were omnivores, then my step son went vegan, then my daughter two weeks ago went vegetarian....my point:
                                                    This stuff is *fluid*. It is FOOD, for cripes sake. Don't be defined by what other people want to hold you to -or have opinions on. You decide what and when you want to eat things and what is good for you at any moment in time. You change, ethics change, values change, health change, ideas change, etc.

                                                    Try whatever you want. Just ease into anything you do with your body and I believe your body will tell you if it agrees with your decision.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                      1. re: sedimental

                                                        agree! "lean into it" as they say - whatever "it" is for you!
                                                        I try to eat vegetarian before 6pm Mon-Fri. For me, that works. It's easy and cheap. It "forces" me to get my vegetables in. If I have meat at lunch, then I reverse it. But, it's rare that it happens.
                                                        Dinner is usally chicken/fish, veg + wine.

                                                      2. I have been a pescetarian for a few years now. If you enjoy seafood this may be a way to cut down on the amount of meat you consume without going ALL OUT meat-eater. I became one when I rescued my pet birds. It was tough for me personally to rub a chicken and cook it (although it tastes so damn good). I suppose if I ever buy an aquarium, I will give up seafood. I also have dogs and I wouldn't eat dogs either (never tried dog, but I'm sure it's delicious). Bottom line, diet is a personal choice and you need to do what's best for YOU (just like your meat-eating friends/family do). That said, choose animals that have been raised humanely. Buy free-range everything, including eggs. Not just for the obvious moral reasons, but for health (selfish) reasons. Animals (and their products) that have been raised appropriately will not only taste better, they are better for you too. And I do not buy the argument that it's not affordable. If you cook for yourself, it is!

                                                        4 Replies
                                                        1. re: crowmuncher

                                                          crow there is something fishy about pescetarians. Sorry I couldn't resist. It's the heat I tell ya! Seriously I like the fish idea. Two of the hardcore raw vegans I know of had to start having quinoa (cooked gasp!) and canned sardines for breakfast to feel better. They are rentlessly unmercifully raw vegan at all other times. It's been working for them.

                                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                                            'cept that they had to "resort" to cooked and non-vegan food. doesn't sound like it's working all *that* great for them '-)

                                                            1. re: givemecarbs

                                                              Love your screename and I love carbs too. I became one for moral reasons, not health (until I have the aquarium I guess ;)

                                                              1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                Heh thanks crow! Yeah I don't have the answers linguafood. I consider myself a tourist in this strange new world. My post about the two raw vegans that had to eat differently than they wanted to for their first meal was more about disagreeing with the all or nothing attitude I see so much. From what I have read even Mother Theresa and Ghandi had to be flexible and do what was best for their health.

                                                          2. Interesting topic. I'm omnivorous, but prefer to eat meat, if I do, sparsely, and then only if I am pretty sure it lead a happy life and died a noble death. By which I mean was not factory farmed or subjected to growth hormone, antibiotics, etc. My husband is a fish-eating vegetarian and his daughter true vegetarian. We try to eat locally-sourced, organic foods and to be conscious of the carbon footprint and other environmental and socio-economic repercussions of our food. We're all quite healthy and on the lean side. We don't preach to our friends about it, but it's not a difficult way to live and reminds us to be conscious and grateful to our source of nutrition and our impact on the earth.

                                                            1. Be strong. Be who you are. Like yourself no matter what you look like. Eat what you like, when you like- however, portion control is a must. You haven't slipped- you have gone with the nature of your species. I have known many "vegetarians" who took it up as a fashion, honestly believed it was better for them, or to demonstrate that they were somehow more enlightened / ethical / responsible / insertyourownneedformeaninghere / healthy than the average bear. Most weren't and bless those who still believe themselves to be so. Food is death so that life may continue. Enjoy continuing. The lion doesn't ponder the ethics of eating the gazelle any more than the gazelle frets over the grass.

                                                              18 Replies
                                                              1. re: ViniVidiSousVide

                                                                Agree with your point. We must do what is best for us as individuals. However I feel the need to ask the question- has anyone ever pondered the ethics of eating a dog?

                                                                1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                  yes, one has. in fact, quite a number of people on these boards. do a search and find out '-)

                                                                  i personally don't have a problem with other cultures eating dogs, as long as nobody forces me to eat any. i also don't eat horse meat b/c i've ridden most of my life, but would never judge another person for liking it.

                                                                  just because we as a culture decided it's ok to eat bunnies, calves, lambs, etc., but not cats & dogs? it's about as random as anything.

                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                    as random as anything is so true Lingua

                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                      I don't think it's random at all. Different species were bred for different purposes. Dogs and cats live nicely in proximity with people and can be trained to do useful things. Cats kill vermin and dogs can herd, hunt and guard. Also, there is not a lot of meat on them, especially active ones.

                                                                      Animals that are typically used for food were bred and raised to optimize that and they are less useful as work animals or companions.

                                                                      1. re: pamf

                                                                        Well, yeah. But dogs are bred for consumption in other parts of the world, while they are also held as pets.

                                                                        And don't get me started on all those ridiculous religious rules about what one can or cannot eat. God's no chowhound, according to most religions. No beef? No pork? No shellfish? No ______, etc. etc.

                                                                        Randomness.

                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                          Wise people didn't eat their most useful animals or burn their food for fuel. Chickens were eaten after they weren't producing many eggs (or, more chickens [coq au vin, anyone?]). Draft animals (dogs if you were a 16th century N American) that could no longer carry a load or rider became dinner. Once the cost of carrying an animal exceeded its production it went into the pot. As mere subsistence became less of a concern, the age at which animals became dinner shortened. Increased knowledge of biology, sanitation, and refrigeration have mitigated the safety aspects of religious food edicts. However, perhaps there are reasons we shouldn't be eating double bacon cheeseburgers...

                                                                        2. re: pamf

                                                                          “not a lot of meat on them, especially active ones”
                                                                          explain that to someone who considers them (dog/cat) a delicacy or someone who is starving and feels the need to eat them

                                                                          “they (animals used for food) are less useful as...companions”
                                                                          explain that to people who share their life with a pig; or the lady I know who has a pet rat who collected money to have his (the vermin’s) tumor removed

                                                                          Not eating meat/poultry is a personal choice for me because I wouldn’t want to eat a bird any more than I would want to eat a dog since I keep both birds and dogs as pets. But it is “as random as anything” because if I were keeping an aquarium, I probably would not be a pescetarian.

                                                                        3. re: linguafood

                                                                          I've seen places where people have literally eaten anything organic they could scavenge in order to stay alive. Necessity is not pretty nor is it discerning. Ethics arise only after the most basic needs are met. The knowledge that your belly will be full needn't bring you emotional turmoil. May we relish the choices that prosperity affords us. Choices involve trade-offs and sometimes contradictions. I keep, show, and love animals but I also hunt, kill and eat them. We romanticize the myth of the noble savage but dismiss the actual unseemly details. My general guidelines are never look for fertilizer from that which would eat you and never eat that which could hold a knife and fork. Subsequently, I have eaten dogmeat, but do not believe I will ever again be in a position to possibly eat bushmeat. , I remember being a bit saddened when seeing what were obviously dogs hung in the marketplace. Some time later, I enjoyed boshintang.without first learning the ingredients. My youth was spent with horses as the son of a chemist cum gentleman farmer. My equine admiration and affection has kept me from tasting their flesh but not from browsing in a Parisian butcher shop that featured them. I'm a food libertarian. However, the "Cannibalism: Because All Cultures are Equal" sticker on my SUV is not to be seen as an endorsement of it.

                                                                          1. re: ViniVidiSousVide

                                                                            Looked up the ingredients in boshintang. I won't be ordering that dish anytime soon ;) You learn so much on Chowhound- didn't know that dish existed. You need some big huevos to put a"Cannibalism: Because All Cultures are Equal" sticker on your car. Where can I get a "Necessity Is Not Pretty" sticker?

                                                                            1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                              Offering any food or beverage that is said to enhance strength, virility, stamina, etc to hard-charging alpha males thousands of miles from home is like waving a red flag in front of bull. Boshingtang was actually rather tasty and the aftertaste came only after I learned that it was canine. Of course, that led to great speculation as to whether daschunds taste like bratwurst, if shnauzers made the best schnitzel, etc...

                                                                              "Necessity is Not Pretty" would make a great sticker!! Try cafepress.com, zazzle.com or makesticker.com. The "Cannibalism" sticker reflects a more mature, slightly cynical worldview borne of experience. It is a bit ironic that nearly three decades ago I had a "Dying of Natural Causes is for ******s" on my Jeep. Now, in at least the fifth of my nine lives, it is what I'm hoping to pencil in sometime about mid-century!!

                                                                              1. re: ViniVidiSousVide

                                                                                "whether daschunds taste like bratwurst, if shnauzers made the best schnitzel, etc... "

                                                                                ROFPMSL

                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                  what is "ROFPMSL"? never seen that one before...

                                                                                  1. re: crowmuncher

                                                                                    rolling on floor, peeing myself laughing.

                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                      i was wondering what i had wrote that made you do all that and then I remembered what i had asked you- thanks!

                                                                                2. re: ViniVidiSousVide

                                                                                  jajajaja..."Dying of Natural Causes is for ******s" is even better

                                                                              2. re: ViniVidiSousVide

                                                                                dogs are tasty. foxes and cats are not. this is all that I have to comment on the subject.

                                                                                1. re: Chowrin

                                                                                  The dog I had was good but I will take your word on the others! I think fox would be nasty- especially the males- where you couldn't cook out or mask the pungency. I haven't ever seen mountain lion on a wild game feed menu- there must be a reason for that. If little cats are bad, I can't believe that big cats are better.

                                                                              3. re: linguafood

                                                                                'i also don't eat horse meat b/c i've ridden most of my life, but would never judge another person for liking it.'

                                                                                I started riding at age 31, but I think the "do-gooders" who outlawed the slaughter of horses here in the US should all be hauled off to either Mexico or Canada and endure the same conditions US horses now have in transport to slaughter there. Canada has better regulations than Mexico, but outlawing slaughter in the US didn't solve anything.

                                                                                I know this is an old thread recently resurrected, but I personally eat very little meat of any sort, some seafood, chicken, but go for days or weeks on I guess what could be considered a vegetarian diet. I just feel better that way. I enjoy fresh fruits and vegetables and grains but sometimes crave protein from an animal source.

                                                                                Last Sunday morning I was doctoring cattle at my friend's cutting horse ranch. We use the cattle, mainly 4-600 lb. heifers in training horses. We take care of the cattle really well because we can't train without them.

                                                                          2. I grew up on a small farm and ate the pigs and chickens we raised. I still eat meat as an adult, I'm a fully admitted meat n' potatoes gal, and I've come to a few conclusions over the years:

                                                                            1.) I'm a Christian, as is my husband, and I use my faith to determine my eating. My mother is Christian, my father is . . . I suppose agnostic. Not a whole lot of Bible talk at all growing up, actually, so it's only as an adult that I've really understood and embraced my faith. I no longer eat any animals that are essentially garbage dumps (swine, shellfish, etc.), as they are composed of refuse and that does not make for true health. I also don't eat things that aren't natural, in a (mostly) natural form. That means I get organic where I can find it, free-range organic eggs, etc.

                                                                            I'm crazy for animals, I'm one of the biggest softies you'll meet when it comes to animals - but I understand that some animals are companions and of higher intelligence, and some are here to provide us with food - we are indisputably omnivores. Cattle, deer, wild game birds, etc., are all here as food. I don't see it as disingenuous to admire and respect animals while at the same time determine their fate for my livelihood. I love the natural beauty and movement of animals, I love photographing them (I'm also a pet photographer), but meat is essential to a thriving life.

                                                                            2.) Quality. That's the word that everyone needs to keep in mind. The issue of respecting an animal, not only in life but also in death, is a HUGE one for me. That's why I don't participate in contributing to factory farms. I buy local, organic, free-range meats, cheese and eggs. The conditions of many of the food-producing farms in the US are so disgusting and unnecessary. I fully understand that the American way of living is not the way of old, where everyone had a small garden and kept a handful of animals for their own personal slaughter - thus the huge farms. But there's a better way. There's a more ETHICAL way. Animals raised contently, in a clean manner (no hormones, minimal or no vaccines, natural feed) are the animals that provide the best QUALITY of food. Quality vs. quantity, in every aspect.

                                                                            Native Americans are in my blood, but even if they weren't I'd still respect their ideals. They understood the circle of life (pardon the expression) acutely and used everything they harvested. THAT'S the way to live, and you can still do it in the 21st century.

                                                                            I'm also getting into hunting and when I'm in a better place in my life, I'll get that cabin in the woods, have my greenhouse, and hunt wild game and raise healthy animals for my family. That's the dream, anyhow. : )

                                                                            1. I realize that this is an old thread but it popped up and I have to respond.
                                                                              Please continue to be a vegetarian. You may start a trend. It's hard enough getting a reservation at a good Manhattan restaurant now.
                                                                              My daughter is a vegan, the Hezbollah of vegetarians.
                                                                              And that's all I have to say about that.

                                                                              1. Oh just come over to the "dark side," and enjoy!

                                                                                Being an omnivore is not as bad, as the books and clinics say that it is.

                                                                                Hunt

                                                                                1. I was an ovo-lacto vegetarian for nearly 20 years. I ostensibly began as a weight control measure, but I really wanted to eat a Snickers over kale. After years of veg, and still struggling with my weight, decided to go back to meat. Now I've been at a more stable weight, no longer have quite as many food cravings as before, and still eat 2-3 veg meals a week. It's all personal choice, so don't let anyone make you feel badly, no matter what you choose.

                                                                                  1. I have similar thoughts to some in this thread- I and my boyfriend went vegetarian together and didn't touch meat for a year, but by that point his immune system was starting to suffer and he was getting sick every few weeks. We decided to try eating humanely grown, sustainable meat on a weekly or biweekly basis, and it improved his health almost immediately. We've stuck to this diet- only humane, sustainable meat, locally grown, etc and it's fine with us because we're against the meat markets and the general meat industry, not the eating of animals (I think that humans really are omnivores and should be eating meat). We're still careful to avoid all non-humane meat including gelatin, although we do eat rejected meat that would otherwise be wasted (for instance, leftover but perfectly good meat that someone is about to throw away). Our philosophy is basically about reducing impact and waste.