Love it or hate it: Vegetarianism

by Patty Templeton

Love itI’ve been a vegetarian for over 10 years. At one point, I was a vegan, and try as I might, I couldn’t make it work in a healthy fashion for my body, no matter how many cookbooks I tried out. I love being a vegetarian. I find that, for me, a vegetarian diet matches the vigor, health, and ethics I try to uphold. I’m not here to crap on your diet. I think you should find the healthy balance for you. But for me, a plant-based life is where it’s at.

I enjoy animals; usually, the uglier, the better. It makes me a happier person to know that if I couldn’t kill it, I’m not gonna eat it.

I’m not gonna lie and say that I don’t ever support the industrial agriculture business. I eat posh cheese. I eat salads where the greens are probably grown with some relation to Monsanto. That said, I do find satisfaction in supporting the agridustrial biz as little as possible. Livestock is accountable for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions – more than all of the transportation industry. Additionally, growing feed crops for livestock takes up 56 percent of U.S. water consumption. I don’t like that a farm of 2,500 cows produces as much waste as a city of 411,000 people. It’s all just a little much. I prefer to not be a part of it. We all have to find where our ethics cut off, right? I am a vegetarian, but I support fossil fuels by driving a car. So it goes.

If you ever need a badass fake meatloaf recipe, lemme know. Ditto that for a lovely kale, artichoke salad.

Patty TempletonHate itI’m going to play the omnivore card here and say that, when it comes to eating both meat and plants, I’m only doing what millions of years of evolution has equipped me to do.

As Michael Pollan argues in “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” “the reason we evolved such big and intricate brains,” according to many anthropologists, was to help us discern such vast selections and varieties of plants and animals as food, which also allowed us to adapt nearly anywhere on Earth.

Our teeth are omnicompetent, Pollan writes, designed to both tear animal flesh and grind plants. Our jaws can move like a carnivore’s and herbivore’s. Our stomachs produce enzymes specifically to break down meat and our metabolism needs chemical compounds that can only be found in plants and others that can only derive from animals. So who am I to argue with our evolutionary biology?

But let’s set those millions of years aside, most of which occurred without the existence of City Market or Nature’s Oasis. We have options now. We can make choices – ethical, moral, or even just health-related – about our diets. Meat is no longer a biological necessity.

But to me, eating, or at least trying, everything we possibly can is what makes life an adventure. Whenever possible, the meat I buy and eat is as humane and sustainable as possible, and I, along with most meat eaters, could stand to eat much less of it.

But, hey, we didn’t crawl, stand and walk upright to the top of the food chain for nothing.

— David Holub


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