Thoughts on Being a Vegetarian in a Fast-Food World

I don't know about anyone else, but fast food just seems difficult to escape. Eating out in general seems to be a huge trend now, a regular thing, rather than just a treat for a family to get out of the house. I know in our household, eating out is a pretty regular thing, unfortunately. (We really want to change this, it's just become such a habit over the years, such an easy thing to turn to when we get lazy. We're so ridiculously over-privileged in America and we totally take it for granted. Many people would love to just have like 1/20th of what I have for a meal, and they'd be happy. So sad. Digressing...)

As part of their advocacy against cruelty to animals, Peta encourages people to adopt a vegan diet (or at the very least vegetarian, but they argue against the use of dairy and egg products on cruelty counts as well). This is all fine and dandy. As a matter of fact, I agree with their arguments for the most part, and I am on the path to veganism myself. However, I find it sort of hypocritical of them to promote such veganism and then tell people that they can go to most restaurants, including fast food places, and get vegan meals (i.e., Taco Bell, Burger King, etc.). Now, it may be just me, but if I purchase a combo from Taco Bell, even if it's a completely vegan combo, they still get my money, right? And what do they do with that? They put it back into the meat industry, so they can get their ground beef and shredded chicken, etc. So, essentially, even though I can get a vegan meal from Taco Bell, I'm still supporting an industry that promotes animal cruelty.

Am I wrong? This just seems like an illogical argument to me, on Peta's part.

If they want to be completely consistent, they should just drop the "you can eat vegan pretty much anywhere!" argument and just encourage people to cook at home and bring food with them in sustainable containers. That would be most in line with their position, and we would all be eating vegan meals with our families instead of chowing not-so-healthy food from a fast-food place where we throw out the dishes we use and contribute to more animal cruelty, even if it is inadvertently.

I did read this article on dining out veg style, and while I get that they want to promote veg eating in places where carnivores eat, I still kind of think that, if they're stance is against the meat/dairy/egg industry, and pretty much every restaurant deals with the meat/dairy/egg industry in some way, then they should not be so quick to tell people to eat out.

Just a thought, you know.

Random Earth-friendliness

I didn't go vegan for lent. But I still feel in my heart that I'm headed toward veganism. At this point, I've no clue how to get ALL traces of dairy and eggs out of my life. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming financially to think of going vegan - trying to find dairy and egg free breads, cereals, substitutes for baking and cooking, etc etc. And my husband is quitting his job to go back to school this fall, so that puts even more pressure on me to make sure that, if I go vegan, I do it healthily.

I'm also realizing that my vegetarianism over the past 2 1/2 years has made me think about a lot of things I've taken for granted over the years, i.e., what I throw in the trash, how/where/by whom my clothes are made and what they're made of, extra stuff in the foods I eat (preservatives, additives, processed sugars, msg, etc), consumerism, and, on a more personal level, how I take care of what God has already given me (i.e., how I keep my house, how I tend my relationships). It's amazing how one little decision can turn out to be such a big decision and affect so many area's of your life that you never even thought were connected.

I've realized that returning to Eden involves so much more than just not eating meat. It requires us to decide willingly that we will love and respect all of creation, because that's how God originally created the world. And in order to do that, we have to love and respect not just animals (as in, not killing them and eating them), but we have to love and respect other humans as well, which is sometimes the more difficult task.

I've recently come across several resources for "greener" (i.e., more godly) living that look pretty amazing, and I'd like to share them, because I really believe in them. I'm listing them below, but also adding them to my links list.

Blessed Earth
Creation Hope
The Wonder of Creation
not one sparrow
with those who

Ellie, the Veal Calf


I was thinking back the other day to the first time I remember actually being concerned and grossed out and truly saddened by the idea of an animal being killed.

I grew up in a rural town in Pennsylvania, where we got a day off school each year for opening day of hunting season. I, along with all my classmates, had a hunting safety class in 6th grade. (I never got my license, though.) I grew up hearing stories of how my mom always went hunting & fishing with her dad when she was growing up, and how these times were great bonding experiences.

I had a great bonding experience of my own when I was about ten. I had a friend whose aunt owned a farm (pretty common where I grew up, actually). One day, while I was visiting her, we went to her aunt's farm to see the cows.

There was a terrible stench in the barn. I remember the pungent smell assaulting my nose as I walked in. I didn't understand then why it smelled so bad. Now I know that veal calves are kept on liquidy diets so they always have diarrhea - this helps them to be more lean for when they are slaughtered and turned into veal parmesan.

My friend and I walked through the rows of calves tied up in small stalls. I petted their noses as I passed by, thoroughly enjoying their warmth, soft fur, and the affectionate way they would nuzzle me as I stood in front of them.

One particular calf seemed to like me a lot. And I liked her. So much so that I named her Ellie.

I loved Ellie. I had all these dreams about owning Ellie and petting her and grooming her and just taking care of her. I think I mentioned this to my friend a few weeks later, and she looked at me like I was crazy.

"Ellie's dead," she said bluntly.

I was in shock. She explained to me that Ellie was on her way to being chopped up for someone's dinner. I went home and cried. I didn't understand how, after meeting her, someone would want to kill her.

Sadly, it wasn't until 2 1/2 years ago I stopped eating meat. I wonder how many other deaths like Ellie's I contributed to over the years.

I still think of Ellie sometimes, her big, sad brown eyes looking into mine as she nuzzled into my side.

And sometimes I still miss Ellie.

Still debating...

...about going vegan. Would it be terrible to stay vegetarian but get my milk/eggs from local family farms? Hmm. I'm not against lessening my intake of dairy and eggs, but I just don't know that I'm ready to read every package label to see if there is a hint of eggs or some kind of milk protein in it. Just thinking.

Animals where you least expect them

Dryer sheets. Yep. They (most of them) use tallow, or animal fat, as the softening agent. So, I'm not using them any more. I just recently made my own detergent at home (from Borax, Washing Soda, and Oxyclean, plus a few drops of essential oil each load) and that completely freshens my clothes. And I tried it without a dryer sheet today, and my clothes had no static and they were just as soft as ever. So, yeah.

Also, a lot of refined sugars have been purified through carbon filters made from cows' bones. Supposedly the bones come from cows who died of natural causes and not from factory farmed cattle, but still. Ew.

And gelatin. Which is made from collagen from animals' skin and bones. Again, ew.

And finally, cosmetics, such as mascara, lipstick and lip gloss. Of which, fortunately, I use none. I'm kinda glad I'm a natural girl. I don't remember the last time I used make-up.

So, in my quest to discover more about how animals are used in society, I signed up for a vegetarian starter kit from Peta. A while ago. And it just came in my mail yesterday. I've been reading over the materials, and they're very interesting and have caused me to think. A lot. I'm definitely leaning more toward becoming vegan, but I'd have some serious meal planning to do and I just need to use up some of the food I have first before I can "start fresh," so to speak. But I'm looking into it.

And I am getting a little more vocal about the possibility of my husband going veg. I think he's a long way off still, since he told me today that he's seen many Peta commercials and knows about what goes on with animals and it doesn't bother him.

That bothers me. It really does.

The Word Wrapped in Flesh

So, something I've thought about quite often since becoming a vegetarian is leather bibles. As a Christian vegetarian, this kind of distresses me. If we're supposed to love all creatures, why do we put God's word, the most precious physical thing left with us of Him, in the skin of an animal? I've not read up on it much, but I've heard from various places (PETA  included) that the leather industry is pretty horrible. Of course, as a person who doesn't want to see any animal harmed, just the fact that animals are killed for coats, skirts and pants doesn't sit well with me. But to kill an animal and wrap its skin around the Word of God....well, yeah. And it seems the bible "industry" doesn't seem to care. They just know that people like "genuine leather" products, and that they can sell a genuine leather bible for at least $65.

I have to look into it more, but I haven't seen this topic discussed over at CVA. I may bring it up with them. It sounds like something they'd like to start a discussion about.

Any thoughts from anyone?


ETA: I did a Google search and found that in 2007 PETA sent a letter to Pope Benedict about this very subject.

Go Vegan for Lent

I've been a vegetarian for over two years, but recently I've been considering going vegan. This would give me a great opportunity to try it out, and I've been trying to convince my husband to try it too. I don't know if he would go vegan for lent; he may just try a vegetarian diet. But that would be a great start!

Misunderstood

It's been just over two years since I made the decision to be vegetarian. Since then, I've evolved quite a bit in my approach. Some changes have been for the better, some for the worse. But I'm still vegetarian. And most importantly, I am a vegetarian who is also a Christian.

I see no reason why the two can't - shouldn't - go together. But I have, over the past two years, gotten many raised eyebrows, scornful looks, or even condescending chuckles from fellow Christians, telling me either I won't last as a vegetarian, or some variety of "why the heck would you give up meat? God allowed it, so we should eat it."

To those people who would scorn the duality of Christianity and vegetarianism, I have several things to say:

1. Yes, I understand. God did allow humans to eat meat. He did not, however, command it. He made this provision for food in a time when there was little vegetation on the planet (after the flood). And when Peter has his dream about the clean and unclean animals, this is referring to the Jews and Gentiles, and how, in Christ, there is no longer a difference.

2. Yes, I know. Jesus ate fish. He probably ate lamb as well, if he was a good Hebrew boy and celebrated Passover. But He was the ultimate Passover lamb, and He taught compassion, even to "the least of these." In His death and resurrection, animal sacrifices for the atonement of sin were no longer required, and, I think, no longer desired. Jesus paid it all.

3. Back in the day (you know, when Jesus was around in physical form), the horrible conditions in which animals are brutalized, tortured, experimented on, and killed nowadays did not exist. They didn't hang cows up by the ankles back then and slit their throats to let them bleed out slowly. They didn't drug their animals with hormones to make them grow faster so they'd produce more meat so the owners could make more money. And they didn't have to dose them up with antibiotics because the conditions in which the animals were kept were so terrible that diseases were rampant. No, that's come about in recent times. And I really don't think, judging from His teachings, that Jesus is too pleased with these goings-on.

4. As a fellow Christian, you should understand and be supportive of the fact that God led me to my choice to be vegetarian. Just like He led you to your decision to be a musician/teacher/evangelist/missionary/businessman/fill-in-the-blank. For me, it is a calling. And I know now that it is a lifelong calling. Please don't put me down for following God's will.

I think I've ranted enough for now. I don't intend for this blog to be a big huge rant. I do intend to post positive things, such as research I find that helps me on my journey, as well as news articles about what's going on in the world, how vegetarianism can help feed the hungry around the globe, and humane animal treatment.