03/14/14 19:00:39

Why I'm Vegetarian

I am vegetarian. A lot of people I ate with, know that I am. A lot of these people also know that I’m not “religious” about it. I don’t like to tell you what you should be eating. I think everybody is free to choose to eat whatever they want. If I have friends here, I tell them they can buy and store meat in my fridge. If they want to cook meat, I’m not against it.

One thing annoys me though, and this is why I want to write this. More as a personal reference for myself, as opposed to a long ongoing ramble about vegetarianism, factory farming, and living a healthy lifestyle. One thing reappears in a vegetarians’ life repeatedly, and that is omnivores that want to know why you’re vegetarian. It gets to people. Not because they actually care why I am vegetarian, but because they feel guilt because they eat (supposedly) “unhealthy” food, and they know it. So I, as a vegetarian, suddenly appear in their lives, and all of a sudden their own eating habits are not good enough anymore, and they try to legitimize why they kill animals passively.

All I hear are excuses.

Come on, seriously, just get over it. I’m not judging you or your eating habits. I might even say: “That smells really good. What’s it made of?”.

This whole food discussion is annoying me. So many times I had to explain why I’m vegetarian, just to hear excuses over excuses over excuses why someone else can’t be vegetarian.

I’m a vegetarian for ten years now. Can you imagine just how often I had to explain why I’m vegetarian? What is so annoying about this is not because people want an intelligent, grown-up, exchange of thoughts, they only want to legitimize their own “unhealthy” way of living.

The conversation usually starts like this.

Hey, that looks healthy! All vegetables and stuff. Are you vegetarian?
Well, yes I am.
Why are you vegetarian? I couldn’t live that way. I couldn’t imagine a day without meat. I need it.

At this point you lost me already. I heard all these stories before. Yes, you can’t live a day without meat. No, no, really, you can’t. It’s really important. The protein and stuffs. Your body requires it. I get that.

Oh, and by the way, this:

You’re vegetarian? So you’re eating my food’s food?

Never heard that one before. Haha. So funny.

So rather than having a real conversation about healthy living and why I am actually vegetarian, I get to know how other people can’t be vegetarian. To top it off, I get to hear all of that during lunch time. And it is really not about me, it is all about them.

See I just want a break from work and eat my meal. I want to have some nice conversations, laugh, and then get back to work. That’s all I care about.

If you are reading this, it is probably because you just sat next to me and asked me that question, and I really really quickly got the feeling you were legitimizing your supposedly unhealthy eating habits, and at the end I was still not able to tell you why I’m vegetarian.

So if you are really interested in my point of view, you have to understand how I became vegetarian. To get to know that, we need to go back in time, right to the point when I chose to be one. If you are not interested, stop reading, please, but never ask me about food again, OK?

How I Got to Be a Vegetarian

It was in the year 2003. I just got to uni and moved into my first own flat. In that flat I had to do everything by myself. I had to clean, but I als had to cook. See, back then I was really really lazy about cooking. Plus I just hated it. Making meat, from its uncooked form, to the point where you can finally eat it, meant a lot of work. Work I didn’t want to do.
So, there was that. Also, at the same time, I wanted to live a little bit healthier. I wanted to choose what food I eat more carefully. Now that I didn’t have to live at home anymore, I could eat whatever I want. I could break the eating patterns my parents taught me and make up my own. I was overweight at that time and I decided to change my eating habits and to take care of myself.
Combine those two things and you get a really really lazy person, who doesn’t want to waste time cooking, when he can jump on a bike and just cycle hours on end through the city of Munich. Think about it. Meat has to be cooked, an apple falls from the tree and you can eat it right away. That’s what I call convenience food! Plus vegetables have a lot of fiber, and vitamins, and all that other healthy shit in them. If you take a look at your allowed food intake, and consider what experts recommend on ratios for carbohydrates/fat/protein, then it is just much easier to achieve those with a vegetarian diet. Or so, I thought.

I didn’t become a vegetarian from one day to the next. I just decided to eat more healthy foods. Over the course of about a year, the amounts of food in the food categories that I ate, shifted. I ate less and less meat, and more and more vegetables and fruits. To a point where I was wondering why I still ate it? In the end it was just something my parents taught me to eat. What would happen if I dropped meat entirely? And so I did.

At first I didn’t notice anything. I mean, after all, I continued to eat what I like, just no meat anymore. I was really not religious about it, I wasn’t. The first couple of months I dind’t notice much of a change at all. Some months after I ate my last piece of meat however, something happened. I walked through the aisles of my local supermarket and suddenly there was this smell of dead meat. Not just dead meat, it smelled like dead, decomposing, bodies. It trenched the entire area around two important counters. One where they sold dead animals, and right next to it they sold cheese.
That situation was new to me. Never before did I notice just how bad meat actually smells. It was disgusting. In fact, it still is disgusting. I was wondering how I could shove all of that decomposing stinking stuff into my mouth all the years. I mean I wasn’t really religious about vegetarianism, but there I was, a young man, 23 years of age, wanting to buy cheese. And there was this counter, with the dead animal meat, that prevented me from reaching the cheese counter.

At that point it was clear to me that I’m not going back to meat-eating anytime soon. I stood a vegetarian, not anymore because it was inconvenient to cook meat, but because imagining myself eating something so bad, was just out of the question.

Long time passed. I eventually graduated and moved to Stuttgart. Things didn’t change much. Actually nothing changed ever, but a couple of years ago, the documentary wave started. One of the first movies that became popular was An Inconvient Truth. That movie made me stick to green living. But another movie then made me stick to vegetarianism, and that movie was Food, Inc.. If you are an omnivore, don’t watch it. I think what it does to omnivores is by far worse, than what it does to vegetarians and vegans.
Food, Inc. takes you through the worst of factory farming. As an omnivore it increases your level of guilt for a couple of days because you just watched that movie, and you’re still eating meat. How can you be such a cruel monster when you are aware of all of that? As a vegetarian, you’re more like: “Oh yeah, that’s bad. That’s really bad! I didn’t know it was that bad. Glad I’m vegetarian and don’t support that industry with my money.” So for vegetarians it just solidifies a point that existed already, for omnivores it makes them feel bad about themselves. I don’t think you should feel bad about yourself just because of the food you choose to eat.

That movie plus books, articles, and just my own life experience changed my views. I’m still not religiously trying to “convert” people to vegetarianism. I don’t care what you eat. Really. Eat whatever makes you happy. I have my views. Of course I think you don’t eat right. Of course I do. Of course I think you kill animals. Because with your demand for meat, that’s what you do. But that’s what I do with my vegetarianism. I create a demand for moss. Of course I don’t think you are a bad person generally. Your eating habits are just part of who you are. You are not your eating habits. I like you way more than that. Of course I think that way. Why do you think I’m vegetarian for over 10 years? But all of that doesn’t mean that I can’t accept that other people don’t choose to live the way I do. And that is totally fine by me.

So, if you are an omnivore, and you read this. This is why I’m vegetarian. I’m not religious about it, so don’t try to be religious about your meat-eating habits and let’s have a nice chat instead. Maybe about the weather. Yeah, let’s talk about the weather during our lunch break. That sounds good.