Not Quite A Vegetarian…

I am not a vegetarian. All three of my sisters haven’t eaten meat in years, and if they can’t convince me to totally give up animal protein no one will. However, I have made a unique choice that works for me when it comes to eating meat: I don’t eat any mammal.

I am often asked why I draw the line at mammals. I know sounds so silly and strange, but for me it makes perfect sense. Here are my reasons why mammals don’t end up on my dinner plate:

1. I am a mammal. Pets with personalities are mammals. I don’t see the difference between a dog and a pig. Or a horse and a cow. They are all cute and cuddly and funny and wise. So, why would I eat them?

2. I don’t like the taste. I used to order filet mignon when dining out for a special occasion. I thought I was treating myself because fancy steaks connote luxury. But, one night as I thoughtlessly chewed yet another bite of cow I finally realized that I just don’t like the flavor or the texture. Yes, there are die-hard steak fanatics who think I am crazy for saying this, but steak, pork, and lamb just do not taste good to me.

3. 99% of the meat consumed in this country comes from disgusting factory farms. Animals barely survive in horrid conditions, being fed unnatural foods and loads of antibiotics. Not only is it an unethical way to treat a fellow living creature, but these conditions produce meat that is not fit for human consumption in my opinion.

4. Global production of meat emits MORE greenhouse gases than ALL forms of international transportation and industrial processes COMBINED. The ways in which the world raises and processes meat cannot be sustained.

5. Cheap meat is bad for you and the planet, but good meat is expensive. If you want to make thoughtful choices based on money, why not substitute beans or tofu for your usual ground beef?

So, despite all of the above I still eat fish and poultry. Quite frankly, I enjoy the taste of these foods. And, I love cooking and trying new recipes, so giving up all animal protein would make things a little boring for me (although I make plenty of awesome vegetarian meals several times a week). While much of what I say above about mammals could be applied to fish and poultry, I do take active steps to be a thoughtful and grateful consumer of these products.

We purchase our poultry directly from a local farm where I am free to inspect the animals’ living quarters, food, and overall health. The birds are given a respectful existence and I can eat the food in good conscience. Making the trip to buy three months worth of poultry at once does take a bit of effort, and the meat is sometimes 1.5-2 times more expensive than the factory farmed stuff at the grocery store, but the health of my family and the planet are well worth it.

I purchase seafood from a trusted small grocery store in our neighborhood. I am careful about which fish species I eat. Those that don’t make the cut include bluefin tuna (on track to extinction in TWO years), farmed salmon and/or Atlantic salmon (raised in disease & parasite ridden open net pens and have super high PCB levels), and Chilean sea bass (also close to extinction). While wild-caught Atlantic salmon is considerably more expensive than the farmed stuff, I am paying for better taste and better regulation of the species.

When it comes to food, you have the power to make the ethical choice.

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