I used to think vegetarians were weird, snobbish or health freaks.
Recently I read a book (You Don’t Need Meat by Peter Cox) which has completely changed my perspective.
All this time, I knew eating vegetables was good for health, and eating too much meat was not good for health.
Little did I know what happens to bring the meat to our plate.
Today I’m also announcing to the world that I am trying to practice a vegetarian diet. I will still eat eggs and maybe some dairy products, so technically I will join the ovo-lacto-vegetarian way of life.
I will try to reduce dairy products, which isn’t too big a deal since I don’t drink milk (but I love cheese!).
As I mentioned before in a previous post, I will not be too strict about this yet. For example, if there are dinner parties or no other choice of food available, I may still eat some meat.
Okay, now let me share with you what I’ve found out.
You Don’t Need Meat
We’ve been sold the idea of eating meat as part of a balanced diet. Actually, we can get the vitamins and minerals we need from non-meat sources with proper planning.
I’m fine with planning my meals. I’ve been doing that for the past year in my quest to lose weight.
The author of the books suggested humans were primarily designed for a plant-based diet. Even our parents and grandparents don’t eat as much meat as we do today (because of economic reasons).
The first health benefit will be lowering my risk for cardiovascular disease (which is a risk I inherited from my ancestors).
This will come from lower consumption of fat and increased consumption of fibre.
Vegetarians are also supposed to feel less lethargic and less constipated.
Second benefit is reducing the risk of cancer.
Third benefit is reduced exposure to diseases (refer next section).
Come to think of it, almost every type of livestock animal has had some form of epidemic in the past few years.
The question is, have these diseases jumped from animals to humans? Another question is, how long can these diseases lie dormant in humans before showing symptoms?
It’s not only about us eating meat, but even what the animals eat. I’m not sure if this is still practiced today, but diseased animals used to be ground up and recycled as feed for other animals.
I am also reminded of the growth hormones and antibiotics fed to the animals to increase profits.
How Animals Are Raised and Killed
I used to think animals are bred by allowing them to freely mingle around, fall in love and then have babies.
But did you know, they are forced to become pregnant? Check out this slideshow.
Then there is the issue of slaughtering animals. There is a debate on whether animals have feelings like humans do. Many vegetarians are animal lovers who can’t bear to see an animal die.
Personally I don’t feel so strongly about this, but it’s still hard to support some of the practices.
How I Will Do It
One step at a time, slowly reducing until it becomes a way of life.
Again I’m going to stress I’m not going to be religious about it. I suspect as I get used to it, it will get easier.
Believe it or not, I feel sad when I imagine never eating another bite of KFC again. And no more bak kut teh. Or satay. OK I better stop before I change my mind.
It won’t be an impossible task. After all, our Asian cuisine has a lot of vegetarian options. I am especially fond of Indian vegetarian food.
I may fail totally and abandon the idea one day, but even then I don’t think I will eat as much meat as I did before.
This Is My Feeling
I’m not trying to force anyone of you to change. I am not saying I am better. I’m not even sure I can succeed.
I’m just trying to give my family and myself the best quality of life, at the same time trying to persuade Poey Chin and the kids to do this together with me.
This is the stage of my life where I start to think of the kind of life I leave behind for my children.
I know plants are not immune to chemicals and contamination risks too, so we will have to be more selective of the plants we buy and maybe get a “vege-washer”.
My only request is for you to understand why I’m doing this.
Photo by: Zsuzsanna Kilian