Becoming Vegetarian - picture of Black girl with Mom helping her crack an egg into bowl

Becoming Vegetarian: A Club Thrifty Confessional

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Disclaimer:  Many people have recently been asking me why we became vegetarians last year.  Therefore, I decided to share my story.  However, please know that I’m not trying to convert any of you.  I also promise to try not to judge you if you continue to eat sweet, defenseless, innocent animals after reading this.

Over the last few years, we started feeling weird whenever we ate meat.  I’m not really sure when or why it started.  It just did.  And at a certain point, I started completely losing my appetite when I actually thought about what I was eating.  So, little by little, we started seriously cutting down our meat consumption.  And by the end of 2012, we were eating meat only once a week.  We thought about going vegetarian before, but I was in love with bacon and pot roast.  Plus, it seemed like such a hassle.

Then, in December I saw some things I wish I could “unsee.”  I completely freaked out after watching a movie on Netflix called Vegucated.  We randomly picked it from the queue and watched it, not really knowing what it would be about (except that it was about vegetables, of course!).

Getting Vegucated

Vegucated is a documentary about three people who decide to adopt a vegan lifestyle.  Not only does it talk about the struggles of a vegan lifestyle, but it showcases all of the things they discovered along the way.  As I watched, I discovered things along with them….things I never wanted to know and things that I can never forget.  For instance, did you know that sometimes baby boy chicks are simply thrown away?  Apparently, baby boy chicks aren’t as valuable so they are often discarded.  Discarded.  Well, that’s one way to put it.  Sometimes the baby chicks are thrown into a grinder where they are ground alive.  Other times, they are tossed into trash bags and put in the trash.  ALIVE.  Think about that for a second.  No matter how stupid those chicks may be, they don’t deserve to be thrown away in the trash.  At that very moment, I vowed to NEVER eat chicken again.

I will also never forget the images of pigs being slaughtered.  Scared like little children, they huddled in the corners of their bins while men shot bolts into their heads to stun them.  Then, still alive, the pigs were moved into the area where they begun processing them.  Hung by their feet, they were skinned.  Some of them were still moving at this point.  You get the picture.

I can’t believe that I never knew all of this.  For so long, I had been enjoying pork barbecue, rotisserie chicken, and my favorite -bacon- without ever thinking about what that animal had gone through.  If I hadn’t discovered the gruesome truth, I would probably still be a carnivore.  But I can’t now.  I won’t.  We haven’t eaten meat for six months and I’m convinced that I’ll never eat meat again.

More Reasons To Stop Eating Meat

As if all of that wasn’t enough, there are other reasons to stop eating meat.  If you love our planet, there are some huge environmental factors to consider.  Huge scale farming is notoriously terrible for the environment.  Aside from the insane amounts of methane gas created, industrial farms creates an unbelievable amount of environmental waste.  Just think about all of the fresh water it takes to keep all of those animals hydrated.  All of the fossil fuels it takes to keep those farms running.  All of the damaging pesticides and fertilizers it takes to grow the crops used to feed all the animals.

Now imagine if we stopped huge scale animal production altogether.  Did you know that we already grow enough food on this planet to feed 10 billion people?  Neither did I.  If we stopped the huge scale meat production, we could literally end world hunger.  Imagine if all of the crops that are currently used to fatten up animals were diverted to solving the world hunger crisis.  Imagine what that could mean for humanity.  Imagine all of the lives that could be saved.

So, that’s why we stopped eating meat.  But, we decided not to go full-fledged vegan.  I’m sure I’ll get some hate mail from saying this, but I just think that being vegan would be too much of a hassle.  Tons of foods have small amounts of animal products in them and I think it would be nearly impossible to avoid them altogether.  So, while we are going to try to avoid most animal products, we haven’t been super strict about it.

So, what do you guys think?  Could you ever become a vegetarian?  Or, have we only confirmed that we’re tree-hugging liberals?  Please share by commenting below.

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67 Comments

  1. I’m glad you guys found a choice that fits your values and lifestyle. I am not a vegetarian and have no plans to become one, but to each their own. My own take is that while I certainly don’t agree with the practices you described above, and there is obviously room for reform, it doesn’t mean I personally have to never eat meat. I don’t agree with a lot of the practices in the financial services industry, but I still invest. I just find avenues that fit my values.

    1. I hear ya! One way to do that is to buy only locally raised and processed meat. That way you can verify where it came from and whether the animals are treated in an ethical manner.

  2. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 16 years old, so almost half of my life and I heartily recommend giving it a try for someone whose regular diet makes them feel sick or sluggish. It worked for me!

  3. Not only are the animals mistreated, but there are serious health benefits from reducing or eliminating your intake of meat.

  4. I have 2 friends that are vegan and it can be difficult to cook for them as there are just so many products that have animal parts in them or were made as an animal byproduct. Still I respect the choice you and they have made and think it is a great lifestyle decision.

    What really annoys me is everyone that questions them as to why they are vegan. Seriously, they don’t go around asking why you are not vegan. I would get so frustrated at always having to defend my own lifestyle choices.

    1. Oh, I know. It makes me crazy~ I could eat McDonald’s for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and no one would say a word….but the second I stop eating meat everyone gets all worried about my protein intake. You never cared before….why now?

  5. I call myself quasi vegetarian. I eat meat a lot more than I’d like to with my spouse being around, constantly swooping in to add dead things to dinner at the last minute! Left to my own devices, I’m firmly pescatarian. I also eat wild game a fair bit.
    Game fits into my little set of ethics, which are based on the ridiculous amount of inputs it takes to farm animals for meat. I’d rather see all of us be able to eat and do less damage to the environment.

    1. Exactly. My former boss ate a lot of deer that he killed himself. It had nearly zero environmental impact and he probably did them a favor since we apparently have deer overpopulation problems.

  6. Thanks for sharing Holly. I am with Matt on this one as I do not ever see myself becoming a vegetarian but completely agree that there are reforms that need to be done in relation to the practice and treatment of animals.

  7. Great post. I have really been thinking about becoming a vegetarian and have already cut a lot of meat out of my life.

  8. Our industrial food system is perverse, for sure. I do eat meat, but I don’t eat a lot of it (I’m lazy and it takes forethought to pull some out of the freezer to defrost it for the night’s meal), and I use up every scrap of it that I can (down to making stock from the bones). It’s not that difficult to throw together a meatless meal (granted, it can be a little more challenging to put together a vegan meal, but it’s not impossible) You just have to adjust your view of what a proper meal constitutes (meat/protein, starch, veg).

    1. Exactly. It isn’t that hard…plus there are a lot of meat substitutes if you crave the texture and need to illusion of meat.

  9. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a child, after I found out where meat came from. I’ve always been an animal lover and I was horrified. But, now I’m a vegetarian because it’s overall better for your health and I don’t like the texture of meat.

    1. Yes! Now that I don’t eat meat anymore I’m totally grossed out by it!

  10. That is a pretty entertaining post. My wife and I did the no meat for lent one year and it was pretty eye opening. We don’t eat a ton of meat (more so due to the economics) and my wife could probably easily go veg/vegan.

    On a side note, I worked at a hatchery (and we currently have chickens) for three years and our tiny hatchery hatched about 1.1 million chicks a week. And we were a simple, small operation. When you get into numbers like that it is much harder to see the animals as living creatures instead of commodities (not judging either way). We were not particularly abusive but if a chick was sick or cull they would often get tossed. It didn’t happen much, due to economics, but a few birds out of millions was a small price to pay for most workers. Strangely, I actually like chicks a lot and enjoy the ones we have!

    1. Oh, that makes me so sad =( Is that really how we should treat living things?

  11. I completely respect your choice and you will probably be much healthier over the long run. I think if you do eat meat, there are ways to make sure it doesn’t come from places like in that movie. There is quite a bit of local meat available where we live. It is more expensive, and I don’t always go that route, but it is possible to buy cruelty free products, unless you are really dead set against killing any animal, and I understand that point as well. I guess growing up with grandparents who were farmers and always raised beef, I tend to see look more at the agricultural side of it. Mass production farms are not even in the same universe.

    1. Agreed. If I were to eat meat, I would just make sure I knew where it came from!

  12. I am not a vegetarian and don’t have plans to be one. I don’t fault others for doing it as long as they do it for legitimate reasons. I enjoy meat, but we have cut back on it, just because of the cost. My wife was a vegetarian for about 2 years and has since come back to eating meat. While I disagree with the way the animals are treated, I know that having to produce in such a large scale is a difficult undertaking. I know humans are designed to eat meat, but that doesn’t mean we have to do it for each meal.

    1. Eating less meat is one way to make a difference!

  13. I eat mostly fish and veggies because it’s cheaper and healthier. I bought a pack of 15 tilapia filets for $8.99. It’s hard to find that kind of deals with meat.

  14. Thanks for your honest post. I haven’t seen that movie but ones that are similar and yes I’m horrified but the practices by the meat industry. And there absolutely needs to be more laws in places to treat animals more humanely. I’m not a vegetarian but I’m also not meat-dependent. I do eat it, but I do think I need to make more conscious choices about where it’s coming from even if it’s more expensive. It’s all food for thought…no pun intended. 🙂

    1. Haha, I agree. Luckily it doesn’t have to be “all or nothing!!!”

  15. Although I could not completely go vegetarian, we have 1-2 vegetarian meals a week. It is for health reasons only. I love salads, fruits vegetable, but I also like chicken and seafood. I only eat beef about 2-3 times a month.

    1. That sounds like a reasonable plan. You are still making an impact just by buying and eating less!

  16. Great post, Holly. As you know, I’ve contemplated becoming a vegetarian for the same reasons that pushed you over the edge. My husband is highly carnivorous and our household chef, so turning away his entrees has proved challenging. I’m still looking for ways to strike a happy medium including creating tasty dishes that don’t contain meat. We’re also much more selective about the kind of meat we purchase (free range, cruelty-free, etc), but I know those labels can be misleading. I’ll keep trucking toward my goal — thanks for the continued inspiration!

  17. Vegucated changed my life too! It was such an eye opener and not too “preachy”. I try to be mostly vegetarian, but will eat fish sometimes. I find it’s better to not label myself and be “flexible” and know that given a choice, I will eat most veggies, fruits and grains.

    1. Yes! I like the thought of being flexible too. You can eat meat if you want to. You are just choosing not to.

  18. I went vegan last year, for about 4 months. I liked how I felt during that time and it was definitely an experience, but I couldn’t sustain it. I wrote a post about it at the time. But I think it’s awesome Holly, that you are a vegetarian. Good for you!

  19. I’ve been working toward reducing the amount of meat in our diet. I’m not a big meat eater. If I saw that movie I’d probably be unable to eat meat. Problem is, I don’t live alone. My boyfriend does all the cooking and grocery shopping and he’s not willing to give up meat. It’s tough to avoid when someone else is cooking. I’ve gotten him to cut back, but he won’t entirely eliminate meat.

    1. Hey, cutting back is at least something, right?

  20. I have honestly really considered becoming a vegetarian for the reasons you mentioned (and I’m not a liberal!) haha. I think that there needs to be drastic changes in how animals are treated that are used for our food. If it means higher food prices, it means higher food prices. Going vegetarian, though, is probably the easiest way to impact change but also would be very hard to do…at least in my opinion. I have cut out beef and pork for the most part, but I eat chicken every day.

    1. Just think of those baby chicks in a trash bag next time you’re tempted to eat chicken, D.C.! Chirp chirp!

  21. That sounds like an interesting movie – so sad to hear about baby chicks being carelessly discarded. I recently started eating meat again after over a decade of being pescatarian, but do get freaked out about the sizes of these hormone-filled chicken breasts. We try to get free range, though I know it doesn’t help the cause much.

    1. Hey, I think that’s a start. It should count for something!

  22. I am at the feeling weird phase at the moment, although my meat is locally produced and I know it is much better than most meat in the US. I think I may scale down to just eating my chickens and BF’s lambs, but the man likes meat so I would still have to cook it for him.

    1. I still make it for my kids occasionally. They are obsessed with chicken nuggets.

  23. I absolutely respect your decision and mainly eat fish myself. I could probably go vegetarian easily, but my family does enjoy eating meat. I try to watch our overall meat consumption, because it seems like we eat more than we truly need. Are you kids vegetarians too?

    1. No. Yes. It depends on the day.

      They are toddlers so they love things like mac-n-cheese, grilled cheese, etc. They just naturally don’t eat a lot of meat.

  24. I think that the energy argument is the biggest motivator for me to cut down on meat consumption (i.e. it takes X pounds of feed/vegetables to produce X pound of red meat, which is very inefficient).

  25. We saw similar things in the movie “Food, Inc.” Ridiculous stuff. We are in the process of converting to ONLY locally grown crops and meat. We have already been sourcing our beef from my wife’s uncle for the past few years, crops from farmer’s markets, and are planting a full garden next year. I love the idea of living off our own land. Also, getting chickens next year as well. I ABSOLUTELY ABHOR the idea of mass-production farming, and hope to source 90% of what we eat from our own backyard and local meats.

  26. Okay, I love this: I also promise to try not to judge you if you continue to eat sweet, defenseless, innocent animals after reading this. :). I was one for 5 years – I went to a pig roast, and well, watching the head of your dinner.. I’ve been fine for a while, but am having guilt again. I’m really trying to cut back at least.

  27. I was a vegetarian in high school and was an on again off again vegan during college. Because I’m cooking for myself currently and another person, it’s very hard while being on a budget to cook two totally different diets. My man loves his meat and loves his ice cream even more! One of my big dreams and driving forces to get us out of debt and retire before we’re thirty, however is to be able to buy our meat locally and adopt a 100% clean diet. As of right now, we have a budget of about $40 a week between two people and at the moment, I’m not willing to sacrifice a diet of just beans (lol) to survive. Eating a varied veg/vegan/raw diet can get expensive!

  28. My daughter and I are casual vegetarians. We do still eat some poultry. I also like quail and duck, but not farm raised. It may sound lame to distinguish between birds that are killed quickly and those that are tortured, but there it is.

    As far as how we feel physically….I can’t really describe how much better we feel now that we don’t eat beef. It is a big difference. I don’t know that we will ever go completely meat/poultry/pork free, but we have certainly made moves in that direction.

    1. Ha! By casual vegetarian I meant she and I will go months without eating meat….and then…we succumb to the meatatarian of the house’s diet.

  29. Way to take a stand! I’ve been moving this direction more and more recently. Its unbelievable that our society is ok with sucha an environmentally destructive and cruel practice. I no longer eat meat at home, but I haven’t taken the same approach at restaurants because im lazy… maybe someday ill take the plunge.

  30. I don’t think T could – he loves his steak and burgers far too much. Being in Asia has been hard for him. He’s constantly hungry.

    I could never be vegan, but I could possibly go vegetarian. I don’t currently eat a lot of meat. I don’t think I’d do it unless my partner did too – too much hassle.

    1. mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. says:

      He needs more beans.. beans are the key to filling yourself up, which is what I discovered when I gave up meat.

  31. Thanks for such a heartfelt and thoughtful post, Holly. I’m so glad you shared this. I haven’t seen Vegucated, but it sounds like something my husband and I need to watch. There have been times when we’ve felt “weird” about eating meat. I can completely understand the feeling you’re describing. We’ve been making a concerted effort to eat only humanely-raised meats that are from local small farms. During the fall/winter, we ate from a supply of venison that my husband’s brother had hunted (yes, we live outside NYC and my brother-in-law is a hunter!!). But sometimes, I wonder if we’re doing enough.

    1. mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. says:

      Watch Forks over Knives, it gives real health reasons why not to eat meat.

  32. Taynia @ Skinny Seahorse says:

    I commend you for choosing to be vegetarian. Particularly the reason why. I was a vegetarian until my early twenties. Just because. I didn’t like to eat animals. I slowly started eating meat and eventually I no longer could identify myself as a vegetarian. I am on my way back – although it’s a bit tough with a rabid red meat eater for a husband. :-). I also have stopped using products tested in animals. If you think the meat industry is cruel to animals – the cosmetics industry is unfathomable.

  33. I don’t know if I can become completely vegan, but I have definitely cut down a lot of meat for health reasons. I watched this documentary called Forks Over Knives on Netflix which talks about the health benefits of a vegan diet which opened my eyes. You’d probably find it interesting too.

  34. I was really happy to read this post, and really interested to see the comments you were going to get – it looks like they are mostly good!

    I’m pretty light on the meat. We only eat meat that was raised/processed by our neighbours or a local farmer, and even then it’s less than twice a week. The only time we eat “gross” meat is when it’s offered to us by friends and family, because it’s hard to explain that their meat isn’t “good enough for us” without offending them. After the wedding, I plan on just becoming a vegetarian outside of our home, and only eat meat at home when I know where it’s coming from – eventually phasing it out completely.

    Good post and I couldn’t agree with you more!

  35. Thanks for sharing all of this. We are not heavy meat eaters and when we do it’s small portions. We prefer cous-cous, barley, fruits, vegetables, beans and fish. I know my wife could easily be a vegetarian because when I met here she was NOT eating meat at all.. more tuna, salads and beans… which we still do often.

    1. mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. says:

      Careful with the tuna, there is a lot of mercury in it, which builds up in your body over time. They say that surprisingly, fit, and healthy people have the most problems with mercury because they eat too much fish.

  36. My city’s government is actually trying to promote meatless Monday’s here in Vancouver which I think is a great idea. I’m not a vegetarian by choice but I honestly rarely cook meat at home because it’s usually a lot of work, so I do eat a lot of salads!

  37. I respect your choice in eating a vegetable based diet. I could not picture myself going that rout though, I’m too embedded in eating meat (just about any kind). The one exception to that is that my wife has laid down a law. If we give it a name we are not allowed to eat it! So our chickens only supply eggs for us 🙂

  38. mochimac @ save. spend. splurge. says:

    This is why I went vegetarian/vegan too. Unless I know how the animal was raised, and slaughtered I am not interested in eating it.

    This is near to impossible unless I visit friends on their farms who have small scale livestock, so I just stopped eating meat.

  39. This is one of the things that’s very tough for me to do because I just really love the taste of meat. As we’ve discussed before, I have given up cooking meat (and dairy) at home, and I limit it outside.

    You’re right though. It’s expensive, bad for the environment, and I’ve never felt more sick to my stomach than I did when I first smelled a CAFO :/

  40. Another great documentary I recommend is Farmageddon. I have watched it, Forks over Knives, Vegucated, and a few others. It’s eye-opening to say the least! We only buy locally raised organic meat, eggs, and raw dairy now. I’ve been experimenting with meatless meals over the last few months. Our favorite so far is lentil tacos. Yum!

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