Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Talk to the animals

I have been home sick since last Friday and it's getting old. I seem to be on the upswing today, though, so I figured I'd be productive and update my poor neglected little blog.

One of the questions people ask me a lot is why I decided to go vegetarian. Mr. Canuck and I gave up meat at the same time, for largely the same reasons. For me, it had a lot to do with the way the animals are farmed. Cows and chickens are regularly pumped full of all kinds of hormones and antibiotics, and I just did not want to be putting that stuff into my own body. If we could afford organic meat, it's possible that we might have switched to that, but as it is we just gave it up altogether.

And, of course, there is the outright cruelty of meat farming. If you're curious and you don't have a weak stomach, do a YouTube search for "Meet Your Meat". I've never seen it myself - it would be preaching to the choir, after all, and I'm just too squeamish - but I hear it's pretty effective.

And let's not forget the environmental factor. There are all kinds of people out there who can explain it far better than I can, but commercial meat farming is horrendously bad for the environment.

Oh, and the general health benefits. By giving up meat, I've drastically reduced my risk for heart disease and colon cancer, among other things. I'm sure my cholesterol is very low and I don't eat that much fat.

Now, all that being said, I'm fairly casual about it. I do still eat fish, so I think I'm technically supposed to call myself a pescetarian. Most people don't know what that means, though, and it sounds kind of pretentious, so I generally find it easier to say that I'm mostly vegetarian. (Side note: It really surprises me how many people I come across who assume that all vegetarians eat fish. Most of them don't - after all, a fish IS an animal.) I've been known to eat the occasional bit of turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas, and every now and again I'll throw caution to the winds and get a fish sandwich from McDonald's even though they're fried in the same oil as the chicken. It doesn't really bother me. I prefer not to eat meat on a regular basis, but I don't beat myself up over the occasional exception.

The next question people tend to ask is, "Are you going to start eating meat now that you're pregnant?" And the answer to that is no. There are all kinds of non-meat protein sources available, and vitamin supplements to cover whatever's left over (like vitamin B-12 and such). I've even cut down on fish, partly because of the mercury and partly because I haven't been eating much of anything the past few weeks thanks to the nausea. It's perfectly possible to meet all of my nutritional needs, even while pregnant, on a mostly meatless diet.

We are also planning on keeping a vegetarian household after the baby is born. Obviously this will take some careful thought and planning, but again, it is perfectly possible to meet a child's nutritional needs without eating meat. There are even meatless hot dogs in the world that can easily be cut up into some macaroni and cheese for the classic kids' lunch! But again, we're planning to be relatively casual about it. We're not going to serve meat at home, but outside the house everything is fair game. If the kid is at a birthday party and wants to eat a hamburger, then by all means eat that hamburger. There will probably even be the occasional chicken nugget Happy Meal. And when our kids are old enough, they can decide for themselves how they want to eat, just like we did. The idea of my kid choosing to eat meat doesn't bother me in the slightest - but that doesn't mean I'm going to give it to them.


alanna rose said...

Congrats on your pregnancy!
Being a parent is a lot of work, but it's so wonderful - I know you'll be great :)

Chris Willie said...

I don't know why it never occurred to me to amplify my mac & cheese with those meatless hot dogs that I like so much on their own.

You will be pleased to know that you have just given my lunches a fourth ingredient! (Contents of macaroni box, butter, soy milk, veggie dogs!)