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Former Vegans Explain Why They Eat Meat: Are You Convinced?

Former Vegans Explain Why They Eat Meat: Are You Convinced?
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Editorís note:†This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally posted on December 24, 2011. Enjoy!

I became a vegetarian when I was a teenager. I didn’t have the most well-formulated reasons, but I had convictions. I had learned about the slaughtering of baby harp seals for their fur and felt appalled at such inhumane treatment of animals; I was troubled to learn about how unhealthy fast food is. The thought of eating dead animals — certainly the pork that is frequently found in the Cantonese cooking my grandmother made –†simply came to bother me.

To this day, I don’t miss meat.†I’ve never minded foregoing the Christmas roast or the Thanksgiving turkey. In a recent article in The Atlantic two former vegetarians and vegans explain why they have again chosen to eat meat; a vegetarian of many years explains why she supports other’s choice to eat meat. The last-mentioned individual, Nicolette Hahn Niman is a livestock rancher, environmental lawyer and author of Righteous Porkchop: Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms; her husband, Bill Niman, is founder of Niman Ranch, a “natural meat company.” Tovar Cerulli is a deer hunter and author of The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance. Joshua Applestone is a butcher, an instructor, and co-author of The Butcher’s Guide to Well-Raised Meat.

Arguments For Eating Meat

All three describe becoming vegetarian around the age of 20 or so, for ethical, religious, moral reasons, after learning about how beef-raising practices were deforesting the Amazon, about the Buddhist teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, about the less than pretty practices used in rearing and slaughtering cattle in the beef industry. What changed two of their minds?

Niman, while remaining a vegetarian, notes that, in her work as an environmental lawyer, her study of ecologically-based farming showed her how essential animals are to sustainable farms as they “increase soil fertility, contribute to pest and weed control, and convert vegetation that’s inedible to humans, and growing on marginal, uncultivated land, into food.” Cerulli recounts how living in a rural community showed him that raising all sorts of food comes at a cost:

From habitat destruction to combines that inadvertently mince rabbits to the shooting of deer in farm fields, crop production is far from harmless. Even in our own organic garden, my wife and I were battling ravenous insects and fence-defying woodchucks. I began to see that the question wasn’t what we ate but how that food came to our plates.

According to Cerulli, adding eggs, dairy, chicken and fish back into his diet also led to an improvement in his and his wife’s health.

A vegan for 15 years, Applestone says that he “overcame [his] aversion to consuming meat” after seeing farmers raising animals “sustainably and ethically”; he realized that he really had a “problem with the inhumane practices of the commercial meat industry.” Indeed, it is the practices of†industrialized agriculture that come under critique by all Niman, Cerulli and Applestone. “Eating animal-derived foods” is not, in and of itself, a health risk, they say; it is over-consumption that is.

Health, the environment and ethics are often cited as arguments for not eating meat. Niman rather calls for a “new ethics of eating animals.”

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11:51PM PDT on Sep 1, 2015

Al, thanks for your concern but I have not eaten meat in 28 years. I'm almost 62 now and my health is perfect. Better than that, I enjoy my food. It took a lot of effort but I taught myself how to prepare delicious vegan foods. I don't miss meat at all and am so very glad that no animals were harmed just so that I could eat.

11:42PM PDT on Sep 1, 2015

Kristina and Virginia - I feel sorry for you. I feel you both need to Chew on something a little more substantial than stems and nuts.

9:16PM PDT on Jul 1, 2015

Thank you for sharing!

8:40PM PDT on May 21, 2015

No. I am not convinced and feel sorry for them.

2:09PM PDT on Apr 28, 2015

But, Kevin B, I am omnivore and love grains. Dr. Murky Mercola tells us in a few Care2 articles that grains are 'bad' for most of us, but unless one is gluten intolerant, often for most of us, no problem with grains. Then...there is always toasted harvest homemade bread, which is wonderful, love to make bread, but without highly processed white flour. There is also red quinoa, that is pretty good, but I avoid the white quinoa.

If one runs out of fridge space, one can always prepare these since vegans, omnivores and vegetarians all eat these. Thinking that I would prefer kale chips to the carrot chips, however, but can always give the carrot version a try. Wonder what curried kale tastes like?

1:49PM PDT on Apr 28, 2015

What does a vegan zombie eat?


1:25PM PDT on Apr 28, 2015

Well, Barbara D, I think that this thread is a record-setter with some 9964 or so comments so far. Do you know if there been any other thread in the long history of Care2 that has even more comments over the years than this one? If so, please point out the thread as I would like to take a look at it. This thread is not all that far away from 10,000 comments.

Of course, there is a danger that another ongoing thread with some 8270 comments is eventually going to catch up to this one, perhaps even surpassing it, so the question is, which thread will reign supreme in the number of comments? Stay tuned.

10:19AM PDT on Apr 6, 2015

long day.....

8:04AM PDT on Apr 6, 2015

Oops, my comment:

"So Douglas: You have never stated (no Veganist has) that a person can be anything like a compassionate, caring, good, decent, animal loving, evolved, etc., human. Why is that?"

Should read:

"So Douglas: You have never stated (no Veganist has) that an Omnivore can be anything like a compassionate, caring, good, decent, animal loving, evolved, etc., human. Why is that?"

5:52AM PDT on Apr 6, 2015

@ Brian: Perhaps you need to talk to your friends like Marie B.

She doesn't seem to think that over population is a problem.....

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