To Vegetarian or not To Vegetarian?
One thing that I’ve been seeing a lot of and hearing about during yoga teacher training is how vegetarianism is related to yoga. Yoga is all about non-violence and some believe that eating meat is going against those morals. Now I wouldn’t say that eating meat would make someone a violent person at all but it has been brought to my attention the way in which we get meat is very, very violent.
Before I go any further I’ll take a brief detour and discuss my history with vegetarianism. I was actually a vegetarian for a few months of my freshman year of high school. My reasoning was that if I had to do the actual slaughtering of the animal myself then I would never eat meat. (In fact, I still feel this way. Heck, I can’t even bring myself to kill a spider or a bug in the house). Of course this upset the meal-maker of the house (my mother) who did not want to make an extra meal for me. And me, being 14, did not want to cook my own meals. I think I mostly just ate pizza and ice cream and was really unhealthy about it. Shortly after I became a vegetarian I switched over to semi-vegetarian and did not eat red meat for the next 3 and a half years. During my freshman year of college was when I broke my no beef rule. And it was for a guy. Haha. I was dating this stupid horrible mess of a human being and he finally convinced me to eat a burger again. Well, if I was going to break it, I was going to go all out. We went to TGI Fridays and I got a bacon cheeseburger. I still to this day remember how delicious that burger was. I’m sure it wasn’t the best burger ever, but to me it tasted like the best burger because I hadn’t had one in nearly 4 years. Well, I never recovered from that. Meat and more meat please. I joke that I like to wrap my bacon in bacon. And with the new health discoveries in diets like the Paleo diet, well that has just added more meat into my diet.
But then we were assigned this book to read in Teacher Training called “Yoga and Vegetarianism.” I was afraid to read it because I knew it could convince me to change. And I warned my husband about it. And he said no matter what I did he would support me (cue – ‘awwwww’). The first couple of chapters actually ended up really pissing me off. Her arguments were a little harsh like comparing eating meat to raping a woman. (OK – it wasn’t that bad but it was along those lines. Her point was more that a meat eaters excuse was that we’ve been doing it for so many years so it must be right. And she pointed out that men have been raping women for years but that doesn’t make it right). She also described the difference between vegetarians and what she called “ethical vegetarians” – which basically meant “to be vegan.” It really rubbed me the wrong way because she was implying that unless you were vegan then you weren’t ethical.
Then I got to the chapter on factory farming. And I have to say, this chapter basically destroyed me. I still haven’t been able to sleep soundly reading about how all the animals are tortured. For years of their life. And just recently have there been laws put into place that an animal has to have enough room to lay down in it’s cage. She also talked about some horrific incidents of how some farmers sexually abused the animals, which actually ended up making me cry – though I feel that was an unfair shot on the author’s part since that doesn’t have anything to do with eating meat, but whatever…
But after all of this I do know one fact. Whether or not you eat meat – factory farming needs to stop. The abuse to the animals can’t continue. Buy grass-fed beef if you buy beef. Buy cage-free (or even better – free range) eggs if you eat eggs. Buy organic. I know it costs more, but I’d rather spend a few extra bucks to support farmers who are trying to do right. I understand that eating meat is a part of the food chain, but abusing animals and confining them to horrific conditions and quarters is not. I don’t know if I will become a vegetarian – maybe I will by the end of this. But until then I’m going to be more conscious of where I get my meat from. Go to farmer’s markets more. Maybe I’ll even try to have a “Meatless Monday” or something like that. I don’t know. I want to make a difference somehow. Maybe I can.