Why I am a Vegetarian

Several weeks ago we got an email from the good folks who produce our CSA vegetable box that we would each be the proud recipients of grass-fed burger patties. My boyfriend didn’t like the idea that an animal had been in our name. I thought it was kind of presumptuous that they thought we want a slab of meat among our usually allotment of kale, fava beans and strawberries.

But they probably just lumped us into the majority of Americans who would be celebrating the Fourth of July with a traditional BBQ chock full of sausages, ribs and brisket.

I wrote her a very polite email to tell her we were vegetarians. Apparently I had missed her email requesting that we should have informed them ahead of time.

I haven’t always been a vegetarian. I grew up eating meat. In fact, when I filled out my ever so personal profile for the “Student of the Week” designation in the second grade, I clearly remember that I listed my favorite food as my mom’s Sunday roast. She made these potatoes on the side that soaked in all the meat juices and it was ever so good.

In college, I lived with nine other roommates in a hippie wannabe commune on campus where we cooked vegetarian meals for each other five days a week. That is where I seriously first found tofu edible. My standby dish with my good friend was a peanut banana tofu masterpiece curry.

I tried to become a vegetarian in college, but it lasted about a year. One day I just gave up and went down to the Burger King at the Silo and bit into a juicy Whopper. I thought I craved the protein. I thought I was being deficient.

Most recently, I slowly stopped eating beef and chicken and gradually hung onto the last vestiges of fish and seafood products. Until one fateful day where I really learned about shrimp. There I was happily enjoying my Prawntastic Burrito from our local Sebastopol joint called Papas and Pollos. And my boyfriend has to bring it up.

“You know what kinds of chemicals they put in those things, right? They mainly get their shrimp from Thailand and India.”

That really freaked me out.

The next day, I called the restaurant to see where they get their fish and shrimp from for the burritos and tacos that I loved. Sure it was from a local fish market, but when I called that location, I learned the cold, hard truth – those shrimp were actually from Vietnam. And who knows what conditions they grew up in?

I have to say that I could not bring myself to finish my leftovers the next day. (Sigh)

When I think about how we treat our animals, I am appalled. Sure, many of us have probably seen images of the horrible conditions of many chickens, cows, pigs and turkeys. But how often do we just brush these flashes of cruelty aside?

I don’t believe in going at anything in an extreme way. I am not one of those vegetarians who will exclude other people just because they eat meat. And yes, I confess that we did partake in some excellent fried fish when we were in Panama (and knew where the fish came from). But coming back home has made me realize that I want to stay vegetarian for a long time.

For one thing, it is so much better for our environment. Think of all the gallons of water we are wasting in California alone during this scary drought season – all in the name of beef.  Think of the amounts of pollution those cows cause. And all the crops being fed to them that could have easily gone to other hungry mouths.

And then there is the cruel treatment. My boyfriend says that he can’t bear to eat meat because he things of our dog Timmy.  He’s an animal just like any of those other chickens and cattle.  But for some reason, he gets priority to be our pet.

I don’t miss meat and I’ve found plenty of interesting substitutes that are very satisfying and fulfilling. In fact, the other day we sampled this really great fake beef crumble and transformed it into a delicious Spaghetti Bolognese which brought back a few nostalgic memories for my boyfriend.

We are pretty content with our choices.  And hope to leave this world a little better in the process.

Photo Credit: Bobbl Bowers via Flicker Creative Commons.

Jula Pereira

Jula Pereira

I am a freelance writer living the good life in beautiful Sonoma County with my partner and our dog Timmy. Please say hello on Twitter or connect with me on Facebook.

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