post off and poll: do you eat meat?

meat
A recent story about scientists growing meat in a lab made me shudder (if you’ve read Oryx and Crake, you know why). I was a vegetarian for almost a decade, but I went back to being a meat eater quite a few years ago. Recent books like Eating Animals and The Omnivore’s Dilemma have been making me think about it again. So I’m curious about our readers and their habits — where are you on the meat-eating spectrum? Take the poll, and then tell us more in comments about what you eat and why. — Mary T.

Photo by Michal Zacharzewski

From our partners

No red meat for me — I feel like my body just doesn’t handle it well. Although if something’s super delicious, I’ll definitely have a bite! That exception came about while traveling through France. There was too much that I just couldn’t pass up!

Adeleno5

I gave up meat 18 years ago and I have never missed it. Dairy on the other hand…I was a vegan for about 8 years, until I started having vivid dreams night after night of eating pizza and I decided that my body was trying to tell me something.

Bo

I decided a couple years ago that if I couldn’t kill it, I shouldn’t be eating it. After hearing about the environmental impact and inhumane conditions of the meat industry, I’m glad that I have become a fish only eater.

I eat fish, but I am very particular when I buy my fish. I can also tell you how many times in the past month I have had a piece of fish, once. But I do take fish oil daily so that cuts into my numbers. I try to eat only sustainable fish, but know that even that is damaging. I haven’t had any mammal meat since I was 8 and poultry since I was 9. I also recently gave up dairy because ALL dairy feeds the beef industry. There are no pet cows that just give milk their entire lives without sacrificing babies to the beef industry. Since I don’t eat beef I had to give the dairy up. I also stopped eating eggs from grocery stores. I only eat eggs from chickens I have met personally and who I know are well cared for.

That said, I am fairly certain the over the holidays I will be having some Christmas cookies that my aunt makes, but I won’t ask her to make them (she won’t make extra for me) and so my guilty conscience feels a little better in knowing that my eating a couple isn’t going to fuel the dairy industry for the entire year. It’s tough. I am not perfect, and I am not going to be a judgmental zealot and tell everyone else what to do, and I don’t appreciate anyone else telling me what to do either. I prefer to do my best and that probably works out to be 80-90% of the time. I have tried 100% and it is just too stressful and makes me crazy. I can accept being imperfect.

Though I am open to trying all types of meat I don’t eat meat daily. I rarely eat red meat once or twice a month and eat chicken, fish or port once a week at most. I grew up understanding that meat wasn’t meant for daily consumption. I tend to reach for eggs, beans, milk products and such instead.

April

I am vegetarian and have been for a little over 2 years. My boyfriend and I stopped eating beef when the mad cow disease thing came around, and he kept it up so I did too, since I never really liked it to begin with. When I started training to be a Yoga teacher and was spending most of my time with vegetarians, I ended up being on around 50% of the time. So when we went on retreat and ate no meat at all for 14 days, I came back and realized I could no longer digest it at all. I ate some and got very sick. I also noticed how much lighter and more energetic I felt. My body operates better without meat, and that is my ultimate reason. I do not look down upon those who do eat meat. And if it’s the only available source of food, I’ll eat it because there is no point in starving oneself.

After becoming vegetarian I learned more about the effects that factory farming has on the planet and on the people and I am really glad I made the choice I did. It is one more thing to add to fire of my conviction. Like Marissa stated in her comment, I’m not perfect in my vegetarianism, nor do I want to be. I don’t believe in extremism or radicalism in any way, shape or form. What I do works for me, and if it can work for others than that’s great too! If not, oh well.

One thing I’d like to suggest for this blog though, since the author was previously a vegetarian…maybe include some alternatives to the recipes that contain meat? Some of the stuff sounds so good but I am still new to vegetarian cooking and have no idea what goes well with what. Just a suggestion! :)

No dairy for me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that my body needs poultry after years of being a listless vegan. No red meat, though.

AJP

I’m with Simone. I think there should have been another category to vote on: I eat pretty much any kind of meat, but don’t eat meat often. We eat purely vegetarian (lacto-ovo) about 3-4 times a week. What meat we do eat is in small portions.

I eat fish, seafood, shellfish and dairy products…I quit eating meat very selfishly, mainly because I would get stomach pain every time my body tried to digest the meat. Over the years (it’s been 12 for red meat, 10 for pork and almost 6 for turkey/chicken) I have gradually understood the non-violence aspects and the eco-benefit as well. I don’t believe I’ll ever go back to eating meat! I do carefully consider my fish choices well and try to eat sustainably produced when possible.

April

I am an unabashed meat eater. I have a fast metabolism, and animal fats and protein are what get me through 3-5 hours of not being hungry. I’m lucky to not be genetically predisposed to bad cholesterol, I love veggies, and I live an active lifestyle.

Small, frequent meals are difficult to fit in my life, and even if I did, chances are they would involve meat and/or cheese.

I try to buy “good” meat when I can from local sources, but I am also on a limited budget so I do find myself at times picking up 3 pounds of chicken thighs for some ungodly low price. I do feel bad, thinking about the poor chickens..but someday I’ll be rolling in dough and time, with my own backyard farm and garden…

sciencegeek

I’ve been shifting my percentages of meat vs non-meat protein from 80:20 toward 50:50 and hopefully in the next year to 30:70. I’m a firm believer in moderation – if I went strictly veggie, my boyfriend wouldn’t at all. This way, we’re both changing how we eat.

I’ve gone back and forth from being a full-on meat-eater to eating-only-seafood for years, until last year when I gave up eating meat entirely (and The Omnivore’s Dilemma certainly helped cement that decision). I’m sort of surprised how much I don’t eat seafood, because a buttery lobster used to bring me to my knees. But I don’t miss it at all. I just figured that I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the world where food is abundant, and I can stay healthy without something having to die for me to do so. Also, the UN study which found that the meat industry creates more greenhouse gas emissions than all forms of transportation combined helped to make me more committed to vegetarianism.

It’s unlikely that I’ll ever go straight vegan, though. I do love me a good stinky cheese. :)

K.

aijia

I’m a vegan for lots of reasons! I read The China Study and realized for the first time that animal products are not good for you. Then I realized the horrible effect they have on the environment as well as the horrible cruelty and unnecessary death in the animal agriculture industry and realized that I don’t want any part of it. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made, and I feel fantastic and more energetic.

Daffodil

Vegetarian since I was three. I just quit eating meat then because I didn’t like the texture. My parents never pushed, and here we are, lo these three decades and some later, and I’m still a vegetarian. I eat my share of cheese and dairy. I eat fish sometimes, but I live 1500 miles from an ocean, so it’s a rare thing for me. (A coastal vacation coming up will be fun for all the fresh fish I get to eat!)

I haven’t made any of these choices for environmental reasons. Seriously — I gave up meat as a preschooler because I didn’t like the taste and texture! Not a well-thought-out decision. I do find myself wanting to make healthier, more local, more nutritionally sound choices going forward. Sadly, I’m finding it harder to do than I would like.

Rhonda

Been vegetarian for about 12 years I guess. I really like carbs, and I’ve never much cared for the taste of meat. Plus I really love animals and cannot even think of the suffering I’d be involved with. I’ve been just fine (very healthy) and feel that I can live with needing to take life from another being.

We’ll eat pretty much most meat, so long as it is free range. No intensive farmed or feed lot stuff for us. So, the cost of it restricts us to 2 or 3 times a week only, but that seems more than sufficient.

Bianca

i am a vegetarian. i don’t do milk, yogurt or cheese but i eat chocolate and enjoy cooking with butter. i actually really like the taste of chicken and beef. i choose not to eat meat, however, because i believe the USDA and all of the factory farmers in america prioritize profit over product. i have read too many horror stories about farmers slaughtering sick animals for human consumption. the meat that makes it to our grocery store shelves is full of hormones, pesticides and just a bunch of chemicals in general. i won’t put that stuff in my body. if i lived in a country where cattle were raised naturally and meat at the grocer were fresh, then i would probably not be a vegetarian. i’m well aware that i can go to an outlet like whole foods and purchase organic, free range, all-natural poultry and beef….but it’s just not that important to me. i’m happy being a vegetarian:)

sidebar: rent Food Inc. it’s very enlightening!

One distinction I find so important in this debate is: I eat meat but only free range, never-lived-in-a-cage-or-on-a-feedlot meat. I live in Wyoming, in ranching country, and can tell you first hand, these animals have fantastic, healthy, cared-for, carefree lives on the ranches ~ they graze gorgeous mountain pastures in summer and have their every need anticipated and met in winter. It is only when they are sold to feedlots (and this act is dictated by the consumer) that the animals’ quality of life drops to the unspeakable.

T Bone

Do i eat meat? If it were up to me I’d (painfully but totally worth it) shower in sticky saucy ribs and swim in a sea of bbq pulled pork and nap on a bed of rib eye steaks (maybe prime rib, i bet it would have better back support). Yes, I eat meat.

Meat Eater

I eat meat and have never been a vegetarian but I feel guilty every time I eat, is that odd or what, been that way since I was a kid and the funniest thing is I am so lazy I still eat meat and just feel like crap 30 minutes 3 times a day!

barry

Here is a good video on the subject: http://meat.org

Megan B.

I eat meat quite moderately actually, and use it more as a flavoring. That way I feel I can afford to use more expensive humanely raised meats.

Emily

I eat poultry, pork, eggs, fish, but little red meat (too hard to digest). I mix it up with chick peas on occasion. I need to eat meat because I get weak if I don’t – I’m iron deficient, and it’s one of the best ways to get iron. I’m also TYPE O for blood, which is the oldest blood type and predisposed to eating meats – it’s the ‘meat and potatoes’ type, but I love raw veggies, brown rice and fruits. I eat very healthy and also eat yogourt for probiotics. I’m also gluten-intollerant, so that has me cutting out a lot of ‘bad’ starchy and processed glutenous foods. I enjoy Eastern foods, like sushi, Indian and Thai, all of which are very low on gluten, and full of flavour.

The book, “Eat Right 4 Your Blood Type” was very informative. It showed me that vegetarians are predisposed to not like meat, and might be blood type A or B or AB, rather than O, the ‘hunter’.

I eat meat because I like how it tastes. I’ve seen the meat.org videos and the peta campaigns, but that doesn’t compel me to be a vegetarian. I think that the food I eat should be clean and natural – not dirty and laced with chemicals. Cows should be fed grass, chickens shouldn’t be stuffed in too small cages, etc. However, I don’t believe that poultry has feelings like my child has feelings. The animals I eat have eyes on the sides of their heads – prey animals. Humans have eyes in the front – predator. I do not equate man’s best friend (my puppy dogs) to fish – as the meat.org movies suggest. Fish are NOT even close to dogs on any level and trying to make that connection makes me roll my eyes.

Eh, I dunno. I like meat. I just had the best prime mid rare tenderloin fillet (you could cut it with a fork, it was so tender). I think meat (and meat eaters) get a bad rap sometimes, but as long as I’ve got teeth, I’ll be eating it. It’s just the natural thing to do.

joy

My husband I eat a vegan diet and we both have commented on how much better we feel,We live on a farm and our chickens,pigs and other animals are free range.I choose this lifestyle for health reasons,The only craving I ever have is for bacon.
I read the China Study which I recommend to everyone.That book helped my decision towards being a nutritarian.Nutritarian is a term I prefer over veganism.
I could have all the home grown organic meat I want but I prefer a plant based diet

suz

I don’t call myself a vegetarian, but i follow a 90-95% vegetarian diet. I’m of asian and middle eastern ethnicity and was raised eating some of the most delicious foods that had meats in them. I will always enjoy the taste and textures of different meats. I also don’t feel the least bit guilty about making exceptions here and there when the need arises.
Unfortunately I despise the way the the animals are treated, that they are fed garbage for food, and that they live in crowded and unsanitary conditions, jacked up with hormones and antibiotics. it’s really gross.
I think that if we all ate a -mostly- vegetarian diet we could put an end to many of the horrible effects of the industry on the planet as well as the animals. We would all be healthier too. The demand is just too high for animals which is why the industry doesn’t care.
The only meat eaters who get a bad rap are the ones that won’t even try to think of or care about these points. If you don’t think that a fish or chicken is not the same level as your pet, that’s fine. But there are other bigger issues to consider, those of your health and the strain on the planet with the gases and land use.

I eat meat probably 2-3 times a week. However, I only eat organic or free range for the quality of the meat and welfare of the animals. I would never touch any kind of lab creation.