Amazing vegan lunch!


I had vegan tacos stuffed with black beans, grilled mushrooms, salsa, and spinach.  The taco shell was this brand:


At first, I missed putting cheese on my tacos, but I quickly forgot because they were SOOO DELICIOUS.


Plus, hummus and carrots:


And a wheatgrass shot:


The Big Vegetarian/Vegan Question:  Eating Ethically


I have eaten a vegetarian diet for 7 months, and sometimes, I feel like I’ve given up a great deal.  I miss filet mignon, I miss scallops, I miss turkey burgers.  A lot of people have said to me, “Why don’t you just eat a flexitarian diet and eat meat when you feel like it instead of boxing yourself in with the “label” vegetarian?”


A while ago, I did a post about why I found it necessary to “label” myself a vegetarian, and this prompted a really interesting discussion in the comments section about how defining yourself as a vegetarian or vegan is either helpful or limiting.  Personally, I believe labeling myself as a vegetarian helps me stick to this lifestyle on a day-to-day basis, and truthfully, if I really want to eat meat one day for one meal, I will (I’m sure it will eventually happen, probably on a vacation).


I read the following quote about vegetarianism in this article, and I really identified with the message of it:  "We defined not just by what we do; we are defined by what we are willing to do without. Vegetarianism requires the renunciation of real and irreplaceable pleasures." 


Why have I chosen to give up these “real and irreplaceable pleasures” that I grew up eating and enjoying (and still long for occasionally)?  Mostly, my vegetarianism is the result of two major concerns: 


  • The damage to the environment.  The factory farming, transportation, and slaughter of cattle, poultry, fish, and other animals is extremely damaging in terms of air, water, and ground pollution.
  • The inhumane treatment of animals.  After reading Skinny Bitch and seeing Food Inc. (my reviews of both are hyperlinked), I really did not feel that I could eat meat in good conscience anymore.


However, vegans will argue that dairy farming and egg farming are just as damaging to the environment and result similar atrocities to animals. 


Dairy production is pretty bad.  Anytime you have a large number of animals crammed into one facility, the treatment is not going to be up to par.  Large operations have higher stocking densities and tend to confine their cows in barns or in drylot feedyards (source).  In order to keep producing milk, farmers impregnate cows twice a year, and the cows are not allowed to nurse their young (males babies are either killed immediately, used for veal, or sold to become beef cattle).  It is unprofitable to keep cows alive once their milk production declines. They are usually killed at 5 to 6 years of age (source).  Only 11% of dairies allow their cows to graze (source).


“Egg laying” chickens fare no better.  They are debeaked to prevent the birds from mutilating each other (out of boredom/insanity) and live in tiny cages for their entire life.   Similar to cows, male chickens serve no purpose to farmers, and millions are killed each year upon birth.


As you can tell from my morning post, the Husband and I are committed to eating 100% organic dairy products and eggs.  Although organic dairy and eggs do not contain the chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, etc. that conventionally created products contain, the label of “organic” does not mean the animals are treated better.   Organic cows are required to have access to pasture (access being the key word).   “Free roam” or “cage free” eggs, while better than conventional eggs, just require that the chickens have access to a run. 


At the Healthy Living Summit, Stonyfield Farm (an organic yogurt company) brought in an organic dairy farmer, and I was really impressed with what she had to say.  That farmer made me believe that it was possible to have humane dairy and eggs.  That’s why the Husband and I try to buy “smaller brand” organic products when possible (Horizon brand is notoriously bad).


As part of Blogger Vegan 4 A Day, I am forced to think about my own hypocrisy.  I am a vegetarian because I love animals, but I still support the inhumane treatment of dairy cows and egg-laying chickens by purchasing these products, despite my efforts to buy organic.   How do I reconcile this knowledge?


  • First of all, I believe that every little bit (bite?) counts. I believe that we all need to eat more ethically, and that doesn’t necessary mean we must be vegetarians or vegans.  We need to try to buy more organic and local foods, for example.   Even by cutting back out meat, dairy, or egg consumption, we are sending a strong message to factory farms.  However, sometimes I do feel like a hypocrite.  🙁


  • Secondly, I also believe that not everyone is ready to – or even wants to – give up meat, dairy, or eggs.  Do I think this makes them (or me) a “bad person”?  Truthfully, no.  Food is such a large and pivotal part of our life, and many people are just not willing to give us “real and irreplaceable pleasures” for abstract concepts such as the environment and the ethical treatment of animals.   And honestly – that’s OK with me.  To each their own.   Also, I’m not 100% convinced that is healthy for everyone to be vegan, either.


I should point out that not all vegans (or vegetarians) eat in the way they do because of the environment/animals.  They might eat that way because they believe it is healthier, for example, than eating meat.


What’s your opinion?  Do you try to eat ethically or do you just eat?  Are vegetarians hypocrites (argue your case, I won’t get mad!)?  Are you surprised to learn how bad dairy and egg farming is?  Do you choose organic products over conventional ones – why or why not?   Ready, set, discuss!



  • Estela @ Weekly Bite November 19, 2009, 12:33 pm

    I agree with you on the “every little bit counts”

    I eat mainly a vegetarian diet but do eat meat on occasion. I do not label myself a vegetarian, I just eat how I eat. I truly feel that doing what i can and purchasing the right products helps rather than doing nothing at all.

    Great post!

  • Jessica @ How Sweet It Is November 19, 2009, 12:33 pm

    Honestly, I just eat. I am not a huge fan of animals (sorry, dear!), but I always try to eat organic because I think it’s best for my body. I don’t care for meat very much, but like you, want some filet and scallops a few times a month. I don’t think you, or anyone if a hypocrite. I think you should eat whatever you want. It’s how YOU feel, not anyone else.

  • Katie Drummond November 19, 2009, 12:35 pm

    I often write on animal rights and vegan-related issues, so I’m glad you decided to cover the topic with your personal slant on it.

    The most important issue for me, as a vegan, is ethics. I’m troubled by the perception of animals as “property” (which they are, under the law). That legal definition is what allows industries like factory farms to exist, and, therefore, the inhumane treatment of animals to continue.

    And I think “organic” or “free range” are nice ideas. But, from what I’ve read, they are often poorly executed and are little more than buzzwords. Kinda like “happy meat”…

    That said, you are right that food is a really integral part of life. So this issue is more complicated than right/wrong or hypocrite/non. I think discussion of these topics is crucial – so posts like this are awesome.

    • caitlin November 19, 2009, 12:38 pm

      oh man, the philosophical/ethical ramifications of meat eating is a whole other post, isn’t it?

      • Katie Drummond November 19, 2009, 4:32 pm

        Dude, a whole other book…

  • Sarah Jayne November 19, 2009, 12:38 pm

    I think this was a wonderful, thought provoking, well written sumation of the topic (no wonder you got a book deal, girl!!).

    I personally choose to eat meat & dairy. However, I also choose to support local farmers & thoroughly educate myself where the food I am eating is coming from. Every little bit counts and when you find a farmer that is producing high quality products that come from animals that are treated fairly, I think they deserve every bit of support I can provide them with.

    I think just opening up the general publics eyes to current practices in the meat/dairy industry will be a huge contributing factor to an increased desire for more knowledge, higher standards, and better practices among farms! Point being- we need to speak up! And show that we want change!!

  • shannon November 19, 2009, 12:41 pm

    I have been a vegetarian for 12 years. Nine of those years I was vegan, but about 2 years ago I went back to eating dairy and eggs. I would make exceptions to my veganism when I was traveling or in other situations where it was really difficult to avoid animal products (except for meat, I will never knowingly eat meat again) but these exceptions became a slippery slope to full-fledged cheese-loving, omelet-eating ovo-laco-vegetarianism. I felt bad at first, but then came to accept it. Recently, however, I read “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer and I am seriously feeling like I need to go back to being vegan. It is a great book, well researched and interesting without being preachy or judgemental. I highly recommend it.

  • maggie November 19, 2009, 12:41 pm

    I agree with you 100%, everyone should do their share no matter how large or small it is.
    For me, being a vegan is how I take matters into my hands. However, i do occasionally have a greek yogurt or some real ice cream, yet knowing that 98% of the time i am do the best i can to “speak” for the animals and the environment, brings me peace. I do not think that being vegetarian is hypocritical b/c they are doing what is right for THEIR body and lifestyle. They are also doing more than the people who consume meat on a regular basis. Being a vegan or vegetarian is a very personal decision and I would not want to force this kind of lifestyle on anyone (but I am happy when people choose it) if they are not willing, but i would urge them to be more aware of what is going on in the food industry!

    • Angela (Oh She Glows) November 19, 2009, 12:56 pm

      Maggie you took the words right out of my mouth…I couldn’t agree more!

  • Andrea of Care to Eat November 19, 2009, 12:46 pm

    Dude – I could have written this post. My thoughts mimic yours almost to a “T.” I think that I try to cut out dairy a lot more than you, but that’s probably because I don’t really enjoy eating it as much as you do 🙂 But ask me to not eat goat cheese and I’ll tear your head off.
    I LOVE eggs and only eat the ones that come from my co-worker or Farmers Markets. A lot of CSAs do egg deliveries too – you should check that out if you’re looking for a good egg source!

  • Erica November 19, 2009, 12:47 pm

    I am going to post a link to this in my posting tonight if that is ok. I haven’t officially declared myself but I think I finally will tonight. I went pesca about 7-8 months ago and officially full veggie about 2-3 (although I never mentioned it on the blog). I try to eat as ethically as I can- this results in a MOSTLY vegan diet. however, as I noted this morning, I have not been able to give up milk in my coffee and the occasional slice of cheese. I think we all do the best we can (even if this sometimes means eating eggs or meat or whatever the case may be) to make good decisions about our eating, the better the world will be!

  • katherine November 19, 2009, 12:47 pm

    While I do eat meat and dairy (less than I used to, though), I am trying to focus more on organic, free range and locally farmed food. My husband and I are making an effort to shop at farmers’ markets and to buy our meats from local farms as well. Honestly, I prefer to support farmers who provide an example of the way “ethical farming” should be done, and I really do enjoy meat from time to time. My first priority is eating “happy food” whether it’s animal, vegetable or mineral.

  • Carrie H November 19, 2009, 12:47 pm

    Thank you for the thoughtful post, Caitlin. As you know, I stopped eating meat (but still eat eggs, cheese, yogurt) in June. I come from a family of AVID hunters who rarely eat commercial meat, and I fully support thier method of producing meat for thier own consumption as the most humane and healthy ways of eating meat. I know my husband, brother, father and other families find hunting a spiritual experience and give thanks and prayer for the animal they kill every time. That animal lived its godgiven lifestyle in the wild that cannot be replicated by man in any way. That might sound sentimental, but it is true.

    My sister has stopped eating any meat except that which is killed by a family member in this manner, and I am proud of her.

    For myself, I just feel like I can’t quite bring myself to eat a beautiful living, breathing being any more. But I too feel hypocritical for eating dairy too sometimes.

    I’m with you: I believe that people just need to think about the decisions they make and lifestyles they lead. This includes everything we do: the clothes we wear (were they made in a sweatshop? Most clothes we can buy at a mall ARE) the religion we choose to practice (do we really believe or are we just living what our parents taught us) The modern conveniences we use (our paper/toilet paper/other products all have an enviromental impact) … Everything is a trade-off. And we all have to choose what we are willing to sacrifice and live with in our own lives.

    The only thing that bugs me is when people don’t consciously make these decisions and just do what they’ve always done on autopilot. Any thoughtful decision on any of the above topics deserves respect.

    Anyway, sorry for the rant. Good luck with your vegan dinner! Everything looks delicious so far!

  • Nicci@NiftyEats November 19, 2009, 12:48 pm

    I eat ethically. I was vegetarian for 2 two yrs and it was for the environment and treatment of animals. Now, I eat a flexitarian diet. I still love a good burger, but I am now considering eating only grass fed and organic.

  • Serena November 19, 2009, 12:50 pm

    I support everything you wrote, Caitlin. I have been a vegetarian on and off over the years – I was a vegetarian for years but I do now occasionally eat organic, local meat and fish, and I have never given up dairy but also make sure it’s organic whenever possible (save for the occasionally latte or meal out).

    While pregnant, I became anemic and started eating red meat for the first time in over 15 years and I struggled with the decision to do it (but the extra fiber in vegetarian iron-rich foods was also a struggle for my system). I thought about it and realized that part of my struggle was about having to give up being able to say that I hadn’t eaten red meat for x number of years – because being able to say that made me feel like I was taking a stand or like you said, giving something up for a reason. But I don’t think it has to be so black and white – there’s also an argument that it’s important to support the local organic farmers so that they aren’t driven out of business – the entire country surely won’t give up meat, but perhaps we can demonstrate that we’re unwilling to tolerate the poor farming system out there and that will encourage better practices. And like you said, every little bit does count. Bottom line: I don’t think it’s right to call anyone who makes thoughtful choices a hypocrite – I think we should respect people’s opinions and choices about what’s right for them.

  • Cassie November 19, 2009, 12:50 pm

    i think it’s important to consider the facts, but in the end do what’s right for you and you alone. sometimes veganism/vegetarianism can feel too restrictive for certain people and they struggle. life is about balance. just follow your intuition and you’ll be fine. i love vegan food but i allow the occasional non-meat animal product every once in a while.

  • Lauren November 19, 2009, 12:50 pm

    I really agree with your approach. If I wanted to have zero negative impact on the environment, then I would have to end my life! Just being a living human on this planet and in this society means that I WILL leave a footprint. I don’t feel guilty about it, though I do make conscious dietary choices (my entire family has stopped eating meat and eggs, though not for environmental reasons.) Even vegans can’t avoid this problem–just because you don’t buy animal products doesn’t mean you aren’t contributing to the system that hurts animals in other ways, nor does it mean that you are causing no harm to the environment with the vegan food you eat. That doesn’t make vegans are hypocrites, though. It’s just a fact of life!

    • caitlin November 19, 2009, 12:53 pm

      and we would have to bury you in a bio-degradable coffin 🙂

      • Angela (Oh She Glows) November 19, 2009, 12:56 pm


      • Heather February 17, 2010, 10:41 am

        i actually heard a piece on NPR several months ago about bio-degradable coffins and other enviro-methods of of funeral services and such. VERY intersting.

    • Leanne November 19, 2009, 1:55 pm

      Totally agree with you Lauren! What really bothers me is when people are ignorant and waste food. I’m not vegetarian, but I don’t buy meat. I feel like even small changes like this can help so much. Great post Caitlin!

  • Amber November 19, 2009, 12:50 pm

    one of my complainants about Food Inc is that is did not touch on the Dairy and Egg industry. Although I do believe places like Stoneyfield are ethical I do think the light needs be shown on that industry the same way it has been shown meet industry, and if you watched the Botany of desire, the corn, soy and potato industries as well.

    I eat mostly vegan, I wouldn’t label myself as one though. I know I eat things that have hidden animal product in them, which does gross me out. Mass dairy production frightens me, in the way mass meet production scares me. High quality dairy is something I would eat and would support. Although mixing dairy products, like yogurt/cheese, cheese/eggs, and or worse meat/cheese really grosses me out. Like Chicken and cheese, yuck, I don’t think two animal products should ever be eaten together, that just makes me ill.

  • LadyLara November 19, 2009, 12:50 pm

    I’m kind of a weekday vegetarian. I don’t eat meat often for health, for the environment, and because industrialized meat production skeeves me out a bit.

  • Evan Thomas November 19, 2009, 12:50 pm

    Great post. I don’t know where to start. I do eat organic and humanely as possible whenever possible. However, I am a bit of a “meaturtunist” as I call myself and enjoy wild or organic meat and fish when I get the chance. Wether or not anyone chooses to change their lifestyle, I think knowledge in all of this information is the best thing. I would love to buy eggs from better treated hens, and I always go with yogurt companies I believe in, but I think it would be soo much easier to access this kind of food if the general population would make a movement towards it

  • Joy November 19, 2009, 12:59 pm

    Interesting post!! I eat everything I can organically. I do not label myself a vegetarian because I do on occasion have a turkey burger or a piece of chicken.. mostly if I am at someone’s house for dinner or somewhere like the beach when chicken fingers seem like the only safe option- but I simply dislike most meat and it makes me feel better seeing the horrible treatment of animals.

    I do not want to or think I could become a vegan, I love yogurt waaay too much, and cheese. I do buy organic yogurt and I always use almond milk instead of cows. Like you said, I think even simple and small changes help!

  • Angela (Oh She Glows) November 19, 2009, 1:00 pm

    I totally do NOT think anyone is a hypocrite for being a vegetarian. Like you said, I think we can all do our own part, whether that be cutting down meat once a week or recycling more or having one vegan meal a week. I think if more people realized that they could make a HUGE impact by doing tiny things, we would see more change. With that being said, there are many people that have absolutely no desire to change their diet…and we have to accept that that is ok too. However, I do see a large ‘movement’ in North America right now and many people are starting to question what they are putting into their mouths and I think that is great. Knowledge is power.

    • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat November 19, 2009, 1:26 pm

      I love what you said Ange! I couldn’t have said it better 🙂

  • Nicole November 19, 2009, 1:01 pm

    Thank you for bringing this topic up, I think it’s very important to have these conversations with such a wide variety of people. I am enjoying reading everyone’s thoughts.

    I chose veganism for ethical reasons. For me, I would not eat an any product that came from an animal, regardless of how the animal’s life was. My decision is based on the thought that the animal’s purpose is not to provide food for me.

    I don’t think vegetarians are hypocrites. I think that any step forward is a good one.

  • Rachel November 19, 2009, 1:02 pm

    I can totally look into this on my own if you don’t have time, but I’m curious about the Horizon brand – do you know of any online resources that explain the negatives of it? I often buy more locally anyway but Horizon is always an option for me and I’m curious.

    • caitlin November 19, 2009, 1:04 pm
      • Tracey@tropicalhappiness November 19, 2009, 1:42 pm

        Very random, but I think Horizon is one of the worst tasting milks that I’ve ever had- organic or not. I was purchasing Publix organic milk, but then started going to my supertarget more. They had Horizons, which I tried a few times. Even my husband thought it was bad, and he didn’t drink as much as me. Just a side note! 🙂

      • Rachel November 19, 2009, 1:49 pm

        Thanks Caitlin!

  • Cynthia (It All Changes) November 19, 2009, 1:03 pm

    I like your explanation of why you are vegetarian. For the same reasons you aren’t vegan I am only flexitarian. I don’t eat a lot of meat but when I do I try to make it organic. My budget doesn’t allow it all the time but I know the times that I can it makes a difference.

  • Jennie {in Wonderland} November 19, 2009, 1:05 pm

    I feel guilty all the time for occasionally having a splash of cow’s milk in my tea {only when we are at business meetings… because they only offer orange pekoe and I hate it black! But that makes me so selfish…} or eggs or cheese. I love cheese so much, like the Skinny Bitches say, it is addictive.

    So I try not to eat those things. I use flax eggs when I bake, I no longer drink cow’s milk in large quantities {and am thinking of eschewing it in social settings as well} and attempt to stave off the cravings for beautiful cheese. I use vegan margarine and generally, try to eat a vegan diet.

    But I wouldn’t label myself a vegan at this point because I just don’t feel like I could commit to it, and without commitment, I would feel hypocritical.

    I’m vegetarian because I could no longer ignore what was being done to animals and because honestly, the smell and look of meat makes me sick now. I’ve never really liked it, but I enjoyed a good chicken curry, shrimpies or even processed meats like salami. However, when I actually started breaking it down for myself, ie: “You are eating flesh. This is animal skin and muscle and fat. This is cow. This is part of a pig” etc, I stopped enjoying it and it made me feel nauseated more than anything. Plus, I had to ask myself the question, “Is my selfish pleasure more important than a suffering/dying animal who is being raped, tortured, scalded, killed in a slaughterhouse?” and the answer was of course, NO.

    Really interesting post, Caitlin. I identified with it sooo much.

    • Vicki November 19, 2009, 1:18 pm

      Breaking it down really turned me off meat, too. In my pre-vegan days, I had to intentionally turn that voice off. I’d be eating steak and have to make a conscious effort not to think about the cow or I’d be cleaning chicken breasts and try not to think about the fact that what I was holding was flesh. Whether I’m right or wrong for being a vegan, at least now I am being honest with myself about what I am eating. 🙂

  • brandi November 19, 2009, 1:06 pm

    I think the egg issue is the one that I can’t figure out!

    I agree with you on just about all your views, although I do still eat meat. I try to buy locally (whenever possible) and only humanely raised/treated meat when we do have it.

    I could honestly probably go without meat, but I have the same feelings you do sometimes about that vs. vegan and renouncing the food system totally. I don’t know that I would WANT to live without eggs! But I also don’t want animals treated the way they are.

    Ultimately, I think as long as you’re doing everything you can to support your community, eating a healthy diet for you, and just being aware of the things happening in the food system, that’s more than most people and it will definitely help in the long run.

  • Anna @ Newlywed, Newly Veg November 19, 2009, 1:08 pm

    Great post! I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately (obviously– I started a blog to help me stay committed to being vegetarian!). Since I’m just starting out in the vegetarian world, I haven’t really felt challenged yet, but I imagine that’s because I’ve just never been that much of a meat-lover. Still, I know it will be challenging for me, and I think it’s important that whenever you fall, whether it be from a binge, or eating meat– whatever– the important thing is that you don’t beat yourself up about it, and you keep moving forward.

    I also really agree with the statement that every little bit counts. As long as you’re doing SOMETHING, whether it’s cutting back on the meat you eat, or cutting it out completely, you’ll be making a difference.

    I think the whole egg/dairy thing presents a huge problem that honestly, I’m not willing to wrap my head around just yet. I feel like if I tried to tackle that issue, on top of just going vegetarian, my head might explode! Eggs and dairy are kind of my floaties right now in the big ocean of going meatless, and I’m not ready to get rid of them just quite yet– I’d drown! Still, I can see the hypocrisy involved with the topic, and I know it’s one that I’ll have to face within my own diet sooner or later.

    This was a long comment. OY! 🙂

  • Vicki November 19, 2009, 1:08 pm

    Great post!

    I personally really believe that humans are not meant to have dairy and that it isn’t the healthiest thing for us to consume. (I know many would disagree with me…just my opinion.) The fact that veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry and that we take baby cows from their mothers so that we can have the milk meant for them…I find that incredibly upsetting. All of this is not to say that I never miss dairy, because I do. (I had a run-in with a cheese danish yesterday. I didn’t eat it, but I was surprised to find I was tempted.)

    However, I also realize that just because this is how I feel doesn’t mean it is how others feel/believe/live. I don’t at all think that a vegetarian diet is hypocritical. I think that anywhere that people make the effort to be aware and make a change is commendable, whether that be veganism, vegetarianism, consuming only meat/dairy from a farmer you know, or simply doing meat free Mondays–all of these are examples of people educating themselves about what they put in their bodies and what they are support with their dollars. To me, that is so important and admirable in all of its forms.

    • Vicki November 19, 2009, 1:10 pm

      *Whoops–“are supporting” not “are support”

    • kilax November 19, 2009, 9:37 pm

      I agree with you on both points Vicki. I feel better not supporting that industry at all, but I think everyone should just do the best THEY can! 🙂

  • Karen November 19, 2009, 1:10 pm

    This was a very interesting post. I tried being vegetarian (still ate eggs & dairy like you) and lasted 2 weeks. I don’t think I was ready. After seeing Food Inc., I tried to learn more about where my food is coming from. While I still do eat meat (mostly chicken, some pork & beef), when I buy it at the grocery store I buy organic. For eggs & dairy, there is a local brand in my state (CT) that is sold at the major grocery stores in my town so I buy that brand.

    I think you’ve said it best that everyone has to do what’s best/will work for them, and that every little bit helps!

  • Holly November 19, 2009, 1:12 pm

    This post is very well written. I think the topic of veg’nism is fascinating and it is so widely debated in the States. I find it funny that it is such a huge deal here and causes such a commotion because we have the privilege of choosing what we eat. I personally am a vegetarian and leaning towards veganism (to the dismay of my meat-loving roommates) and like that I have the choice. But I also work in a food pantry with low-income families whose food choices are dictated to them by what they can afford to eat. Ramen and eggs are cheap. In other countries, especially where clean water is scarce, people probably do not have debates on the ethics of what to eat, because they don’t have as many choices readily available. When I travel to other countries, I often eat meat, especially when staying with a family. If the family offers me meat and eggs and I know they sacrificed to provide me with food, then ethically I feel it is ok to accept it. Thanks for discussing this on your blog!

    • caitlin November 19, 2009, 1:15 pm

      thank you for bringing up this aspect of the argument – that in america and other well-off countries, we are lucky enough to be having this debate at all!!

      • Carrie H November 19, 2009, 1:27 pm

        I was just thinking about this too … we are very lucky to be able to make this choice. So many people can’t.

      • Lindsey @ Sound Eats November 19, 2009, 10:56 pm

        This is so true. I work with homeless men and women and every single time we serve food, I’m humbled because I have the MEANS to CHOOSE a vegan diet. I do believe it is the best for my health and so much more, but every single night that I make a plate of ham sandwiches or potato salad for a homeless man or woman, and I see how quickly the food disappears – I can’t judge.

  • Britt - Runnerbelle November 19, 2009, 1:13 pm

    I’m not a vegan, a vegetarian, etc. No title for me, I just eat. I do eat less meat than I used to though… but that is just because I really like veggies and have been getting loads from our CSA.

    I try to buy locally and get most of my veggies through our CSA, I try to choose foods that are sustainable (ex. certain fisheries and harvesting methods), get eggs from friends with chickens and purchase meats from a local farmers market that comes from farms where you can actually go out and SEE the animals grazing. Not all my food is purchased this way though…. but every little bit counts I guess. In some respects our area is fairly progressive in the “eat local” movement, so its not incredibly hard to find these resources.

  • sarah (ghost world) November 19, 2009, 1:15 pm

    very good and thoughtful post, caitlin – thank you.

    as an omnivore who still tries to take the environment/ethics of meat eating into account, i have to believe that it’s not a GOOD/EVIL, black/white thing. i mean, even if i were vegan, if i buy things that have plastic in them or drive a car i am not doing EVERYTHING 100% for the good of our earth. i do believe that every little bit helps and if we all make SOME changes, we can make a huge difference.

  • Jenna November 19, 2009, 1:16 pm

    this is such a great post caitlin! i try to eat natural and organic foods. i respect people who are vegertarians and vegans by all means. but i just don’t know if it would be the best option for me, i know it would be very hard!

  • Meaghen November 19, 2009, 1:17 pm

    I have been an on again, off again vegetarian for the past few years. I initally wanted to go vegetarian for environmental reasons, but after reading Michael Pollan’s books, also feel very strongly about the ethical treatment of animals.

    If animals are raised and fed the way they are supposed to be and killed in a humanely manner, I really see no reason not to eat meat. Buying meat like that is extremely expensive however, so I have made the decision to not buy and cook meat for myself. I have not brought meat into my home since the end of May.

    However, I enjoy eating out immendsely and unfortunately, for the most part, vegetarian options at restaurants are sub-par to the meat and seafood options on the menus. While I am aware that the meat and seafood options definitely are not humane choices, the rare time I eat out, I choose to enjoy them.

    I adore yogurt and eat it every day. I love milk in my coffee and eat eggs a few times a week. The organic/ humane options for these are also incredibly expensive, however I do not want to go without dairy and therefore continue to consume the non-organic/ inhumane options of these.

    My eating may not be perfect, but I do believe that every little bit helps and I am making a stand that works for me, no matter how small that may be. Sometimes I struggle with my decisions feeling like I don’t do enough, but I have to realize that this is enough for me now.

    • Deb (Smoothie Girl Eats Too) November 19, 2009, 5:43 pm

      Meaghen’s reply is pretty much mine summed up! thanks for saving me the work for writing it! 🙂

      BTW I was “pescatarian” for 2 yrs and one fateful day when I bought a rotisserie chix for the hubs, I suddenly found myself tearing into it while driving on my 2-minute ride home. I realized right then I could never actually give up meat forever.

  • Allison (Eat Clean Live Green) November 19, 2009, 1:18 pm

    Interesting post (and those tacos look delicious!)

    I consider myself an ethical eater. I eat meat, but almost all of it is from a local farmer’s market and is grass-fed/free-range/organic. I try to make many of my meals vegetarian.

    I feel that ethical eating is an inclusive movement – every little bit helps, whether eating ethical meat, eating less meat, vegetarian, vegan. In addition, environmental footprints extend beyond food! I read a really interesting post yesterday, where the (vegan) writer pointed out that she drives everywhere, and a meat-eater may take public transit often. Both are doing their parts.

    I’m so pleased to hear your viewpoint is similar. (Some) vegetarians and vegans can get pretty preachy about their choices. I’m really, really glad you are taking a different stance. It’s not for everyone. 🙂

    Again, great post Caitlin!

  • Jenna H November 19, 2009, 1:20 pm

    as an ethical vegan i do think it is hypocritcal for people who claim to be ethical lacto ovo vegetarians to still consume eggs and dairy. i just started reading foer’s “eating animals” and in the book he mentions that whenever he told people the title of the book he was writing that it was automatically assumed it was a case for vegetarianism, as in we know animals are treated badly and we are sickened, but we still consume animal products anyway.

    HOWEVER, i do believe every little bit counts! also, i think that ethics are a very personal thing, so who am i to judge? while i am morally opposed to consuming animal products and by products i’m sure a lot of people are morally opposed to the fact that i’m a casual user of adderall and occasionally pot and coke (im in college. it happens) and think that partaking in these substances a few times a month makes me unhealthy, when in reality i have run several full and half marathons, eat a healthy vegan diet, and have great blood pressure and all that jazz. so while i do think the dairy eggs and meat industries are pretty vile are im sure many people will view this confession as just as hyppcritcal as i view vegetarianism. and thats fine. to each her own.

  • charise November 19, 2009, 1:23 pm

    I am basically a flexitarian and have been for several years. I eat “meatless” dinners 1-2 nights a week and some lunches, and eat proper, small 3 oz servings when I do eat meat. It do it for many reasons – my health, the environment, cost-savings, and the animals, in that order (sorry, just not a big animal lover!).

    During market season, I buy probably 95% of our meat from farmers there. Most of it is sustainably raised (i.e., truly free-range chickens, pasture-raised beef, organically fed pork, etc.). I get our eggs, milk, and cheese from these farms too.

    I do occasionally buy meat from the regular ol’ grocery store, mostly out of convenience, in the winter, or weeks I miss the market. But I’m starting to feel more guilty about that, and even the husband has started jumping on the organic/local band wagon!

    But I think you are right, we all just need to do our best. I am one of those people who thinks we all need to make our own decisions. I don’t think it is reasonable to expect that the entire world could eat organic/sustainably raised. It is just too expensive to be realistic, plus I remember hearing somewhere that there just isn’t the SPACE to have only those types of farms and still have enough food to feed the whole world. I consider myself lucky to be able to afford this eating lifestyle.

  • caronae November 19, 2009, 1:31 pm

    Very insightful and thoughtful post! I eat meat and dairy of all varieties BUT I try to go as organic/local/free-range as possible. I didn’t know Horizon was bad, but I have access to a local dairy fa

  • Megan @ Healthy Hoggin November 19, 2009, 1:31 pm

    I definitely don’t think vegetarians are hypocritical! I, too, felt pressured to be a vegan, and briefly was, but I found it too restricting and isolating. Sometimes, you just have to do what’s best for you– and not feel bad about it! I had already been struggling with disordered eating at the time, so adding the restrictions of a vegan lifestyle was not beneficial to my mental health!

    I became a vegetarian more for health issues than anything, and that is why I also quit drinking milk. I, too, do not believe that consuming dairy is “healthy” for us, but I will still consume cheese on occasion, because it’s just so darn tasty! I just try to think of it as a “treat” (like eating a cookie) rather than as a healthy snack. I’ve found myself happier with a little bit of the real thing, rather than substituting more processed soy products anyway.

    I agree that every little bit counts, even if it’s just cutting back one meat-based meal a week. Taking steps toward a healthier lifestyle is always something to be proud of!

  • Danielle November 19, 2009, 1:31 pm

    I am a vegan and I initially started eating this way for environmental/health/belief purposes. But after reading about the treatment of animals, I can now say that’s another reason on the list. I respect all of your ideas and I think this post was very well written. I agree that every little bit counts.
    But I also think being vegan can be 100% healthy. My professor brought up the issue of vegetarianism once and he said there are 2 types: responsible vegetarians and irresponsible vegetarians. Responsible would be eating a variety of foods, making sure you’re eating alternate forms of protein, etc. The latter would be someone who just swapped out meat for potatoes and still eats highly processed food. That’s how people become nutrient deficient; I think veganism is the same way.

  • Gloria November 19, 2009, 1:32 pm

    I was really curious for some time why you aren’t vegan, and your post is great and definitely clears it up. It’s so true that some people just get immense pleasure out of consuming dairy. Should I look down on them for that? No, I don’t think so. I truly don’t believe that it’s natural for humans to consume dairy aside from during infancy. I try to keep an open mind and say all the time that being vegan isn’t for everyone. For some people (like me) becoming vegan is a progression. I cheated, I cried, I was confused at times because my heart was in one place but my stomach was in another. My only wish is that non-vegans try to keep the same open mind that I do and respect US for our beliefs. It’s when people are oblivious and uninterested in the environmental and ethical implications of meat and dairy consumption that I get angry… and nobody likes an angry vegan 😉

  • Emily Eats November 19, 2009, 1:33 pm

    Interesting discussion! I personally can’t define my habits. Some days I’m 100% vegan, other days I eat shrimp. If we talk about environment and morals, then I feel we have to include the destruction of environment and communities that soy has led to as well. Morals aside, I personally have it easy because I’m allergic to soy, have trouble digesting dairy and love vegetables. I have considered the morals of the pesticides used on conventional farming and their effect on wildlife, but I do go organic as much as I can, as much for my health as the wildlife’s.
    As others have said: Each to their own.
    Thank you for the thought provoking and reflective post 🙂

  • Angie All The Way November 19, 2009, 1:33 pm

    Excellent and very well written post!

    Thanks to main stream documentaries like “Food Inc.” I think more people are starting to become more aware of the food industry which is a great thing! Education and awareness is starting to pay dividends and I am optimistic that things are starting to tip 😉

    I agree with what you said about it maybe not being necessarily a positive thing for the earth overall if “everyone” was vegan or vegetarian. I think balance is the ultimate goal overall even in the grand scheme.

  • caronae November 19, 2009, 1:33 pm

    Very insightful and thoughtful post! I eat meat and dairy of all varieties BUT I try to go as organic/local/free-range as possible. I didn’t know Horizon was bad, but I have access to a local dairy farm that lets the cows graze on their huge pastures. I think factory farming is really bad, but I also believe that biologically-speaking, humans are meant to have meat UNLESS other adequate protein sources are available. I incorporate beans, lentils, tofu, and nuts into my diet too. Because I am insulin resistant and require as much protein as possible, I don’t think veganism or vegetarianism would be the right choice for me. I guess this is an example of doing what’s right for your body. For other people, veganism or vegetarianism may be a perfectly healthy choice.

  • Sarah @ See Sarah Eat November 19, 2009, 1:34 pm

    I went vegan for health reasons but it does sometimes make me feel like a hypocrite because I haven’t completely considered the mistreatment of animals or the environment. But as I’m learning more about the diet itself, I’m learning more about those two very important issues.

    Even though I don’t consume animal products, I don’t always buy organic or locally, so in a way all of us are “in progress” and there’s always more to learn.

    I do think if everyone just reduced their consumption of certain things in their diets it would make an impact. Just being more aware and educating ourselves about what we are buying and consuming too.

    I agree that a vegetarian or vegan diet is not for everyone. It is important that we all find the right fit for us because we are all different and have different needs.

    Thanks for this discussion, I think it is important for us to have them 🙂

  • cyndie November 19, 2009, 1:35 pm

    Interesting post! I have been a vegan for almost nine months (I was briefly a vegetarian in the past). I think it helps me make healthier food choices in general, and I honestly never even think about what I’m “missing out on” – no matter how often my friends attempt to point this out to me. My diet is much more varied, I cook more food myself, and get this…I consume more protein than when I was a meat-eater (probably because I am more conscious of my diet)! I’m an all-or-nothing kind of person, so once I cut something out, I am really good with sticking to that.

    I am glad that eschewing meat is good for the environment; I definitely see this as an extra perk for being vegan. However, that was never my main goal. I think Americans consume WAY too much meat, and flexitarianism is an attainable goal for anyone, but I don’t think veganism or vegetarianism is right for everyone.

    Although I think farm factories are just sick and wrong, I do not think it’s unethical to eat meat in general. My family are all meat eaters and eat a healthy balanced diet, and I wouldn’t expect them to change that.

    Clearly, I do not think you are being hypocritical for being an ovo-lacto vegetarianism. But, I do want to let you know that veganism gets so much easier and more enjoyable! Rice or Almond milk is not the best in coffee. Try soy milk or Silk soy creamer. Or Mimicreme (which is soy-free as well as dairy free).

  • katie November 19, 2009, 1:37 pm

    that makes vegan look so appealing!!

  • Allison (Balance in Bites) November 19, 2009, 1:38 pm

    I like your tolerance. Most vegans I meet ARE tolerant about other people’s diets, but sometimes I meet some that are so elitist and “shove it in your face” types. I don’t mind someone informing me about veganism, or telling me about their diet or lifestyle – that’s great! – but when they start to tell me that I’m a bad person for eating yogurt…. It’s like, I do so many good things for the environment/myself/others. I bring my own shopping bags to the grocery store. I’m very good about saving electricity. I rarely eat meat. I buy organic foods, and local foods. But I REALLY love greek yogurt…..

  • Amanda November 19, 2009, 1:39 pm

    I would like to leave a comment about NOT living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, yet still maintaining an ethical position. I maintain the opinion that people evolved to eat animal products and I personally believe I am healthier for it. I understand that my opinion may be biased but I wanted to throw it out there.

    I grew up on a beef cattle farm and my grandparents also run a beef cattle operation. I know exactly how the beef I eat was raised and treated during its life. Although the males are typically raised to be slaughtered, they enjoy a good life taking advantage of pasture and interaction with other cows as well as humans. In no way are they treated any differently than the heifers (females) who will be kept on the farm. This is the reason why I stress the support of local farm operations. It is important to know where your food is coming from (Food Inc anyone?) I think you can responsibly eat meat by becoming knowledgeable about its origins; it just takes time and effort. Many small farmers will take the time to show you around there farm if you are interested.

    In addition to my first hand experience with beef cows, we raised our own chickens for eggs. There are many local people who sell excess eggs that they have from their personal chickens. I quick drive to a rural area and you are bound to find a few signs that say Eggs for sale. By purchasing eggs from these individuals, you are supporting operations where the chickens are typically treated like pets!

    I also know numerous people who run large dairy operations. While there is extensive abuses in this area I would like to point out the fact that there are A LOT of people who treat their animals well. There are also a lot of uninformed people drawing up opinions on practices that they do not understand. Be careful as to yours sites that you rely on for research and their inherent biases.

    Overall, everyone is entitled to follow their personal beliefs. I would just like to point out that there are a lot of easy ways that you can continue to enjoy animal product but choose not to support animal cruelty.

    • caitlin November 19, 2009, 1:40 pm

      i overwhelmingly agree with your points and i’m soooo glad you posted! thank you for bringing a another viewpoint to the table.

      i have said to the husband that i might eat chicken again if it was from a humane farm (like the one in food inc).

      • Wendy November 21, 2009, 3:49 pm

        As a (non-organic) dairy farmer holding a research-based master’s degree in animal science, I want to reiterate what Amanda said about being careful about the sources you rely on for information about animal agriculture. The sources you sited in this post (veganoutreach, Food Inc., Skinny Bitch) are all extremely biased against animal agriculture. In fact, the statement you made about farmers impregnating their cows twice a year is just plain wrong – cows’ gestation periods are about 9 months (like humans), and due to their reproductive and lactation cycles, most are not able to become pregnant within the first few months after calving. A cow that is able to become pregnant twice in a year is actually a very healthy cow!

        Amanda also hit the nail on the head with this statement: “There are also a lot of uninformed people drawing up opinions on practices that they do not understand.” Over a century of research has been and continues to be conducted to learn about the best ways to care for our farm animals. In fact, many universities have entire departments dedicted to animal science teaching and research. Many animal husbandry practices that seem cruel are actually more humane than the alternatives that the general public perceive to be better. The bottom line is that if farmers (big or small, family or corporate, organic or not) do a good job of caring for their animals their animals will produce and be profitable for them. In fact, cow COMFORT is one of the most important aspects of a well-managed dairy! We choose cow housing and bedding that keeps our cows clean and dry, and provide shade, fans, and sprinklers during periods of summer heat stress. Comfortable cow = happy cow = productive cow. Animal welfare is extremely important to all farmers, despite what some of those biased sources would have you believe.

        So, please don’t paint all of animal agriculture with the “bad” label. Yes, there are farmers that do it better than others, and, just as in every industry, there are people who don’t do what is right or ethical. But, for the most part, farmers (organic or not!) are good people who do the best they can to take good care of their animals and the environment. That is their livelihood, after all!

        As you can probably tell, I am very passionate about this topic, and I could seriously go on for days. I do appreciate your open-mindedness for all eating styles, and that you open up questions like this for discussion on your blog!

        • caitlin November 21, 2009, 6:58 pm

          thank you so much for including this perspective! it was REALLY interesting for me to read. 🙂

  • kristen November 19, 2009, 1:44 pm

    I think that any time you eliminate something due to ethical reasons, it is almost impossible not to be hypocritical in some way. As I’ve been participating in vegan for a day, I’ve had to look up some ingredients and google some things and have ended up on sites that debate whether all sorts of things are vegan. For example, (ignoring the fact that aspartame might just not be good for you at all…) is it vegan to eat aspartame because it was tested on animals? Well, if you eliminate that, should you also eliminate all medications because they are tested on animals? Should some products be “grandfathered” in because at the time that they were being produced, pretty much everything was being tested on animals?

    I think we all need to draw our own lines that we’re comfortable with and be very aware of the fact that being human inevitably means being a hypocrite in some way. As long as we are aware of it, open to discussion about it, and acting/eating in a way that we feel comfortable, I think that’s the best we can do.

  • Carolyn November 19, 2009, 1:48 pm

    Thanks for all the info!

  • Erin November 19, 2009, 1:51 pm

    I totally agree that every little bit counts. Whatever steps you can and do make WILL make a difference. For some people, going vegan is the answer and more power to them. For others, it means cutting out red meat or only eating organic dairy/meat.

    The most important thing (in my opinion) isn’t necessarily to cut out any foods but to promote humane treatment of animals and support farms that ethically raise animals. Not everyone can purchase 100% organic but even making one small change DOES add up to a lot when you consider that millions of Americans are changing their diets, even in small ways.

    Power to the people. Every individual should decide what is right for him or her.

  • Tracey@tropicalhappiness November 19, 2009, 1:51 pm

    Holly brought up a great point at how lucky and privileged we are to be able to choose what we want to eat & have this discussion!
    And Amanda brought up a GREAT point about smaller farmers.
    I am just opening my eyes to this entire issue. I have been an animal love my entire life, but I have been… scared… to explore this area more, because I was scared of what I would find. That is not an excuse, but as an example, I haven’t watched Food Inc, because I’m not sure I would ever be able to get those images out of my head. I am an extremely empathetic (not just sympathetic) person, and my heart absolutely breaks in a million pieces when I hear about animal suffering. I’m scared my heart will break so much that I won’t be able to heal… I know it sounds silly, but I’m just being honest!
    I am not a vegetarian or vegan, but I am currently exploring more and trying to find the best decision for me. Unfortunately, my eating habits are a huge hinderance. I know you might say there are lots of vegetarian options, but I have the food palate of a five year old. Seriously. Think jelly sandwiches and mac & cheese. LOL. I don’t even like beans. Or salad.
    Anyway… I heard that if you want to make the biggest environmental impact without giving up meat, simply give up eggs or milk. That step will make a huge difference in the environment and animal suffering. However, I really really really really enjoy milk. Really. (Reference pickiness above!)
    Therefore, I am in the process of doing research on more environmentally friendly and animal friendly options. Buying local is NOT the answer, because many local farmers don’t treat their animals ethically. But finding local/small farmers that DO treat their animals ethically (like Amanda suggested) might just be the answer for me. So it might be a lot of legwork and research on my part, but I’m looking into it. Great discussion!!!!

  • Louise November 19, 2009, 1:51 pm

    Really interesting post and discussion! I was brought up vegetarian and so have been all my life (21 years).

    I never had any issues with my vegetarianism until a few months ago someone I hardly knew told me I was wrong for being a vegetarian and I should be a vegan. Note that this was a person who eats meat! I was shocked that someone was criticising (for the first time in this way) my vegetarianism. I felt like it was not just my eating habits they were judging but also me as a person. I suppose you could say he was labelling me as a hypocrite – that hurt!

    Anyway I would like to be a vegan and clear my conscience as it were, and I intend to do more research before I take that step. I live on my own so I’m lucky I don’t have to take others into my consideration. I don’t know how it is in the US but here in the UK it is still a bit “hippy” to be a vegan so my boyfriend may take some time to get used to it!

    At the moment I only eat free-range eggs (I don’t know if there is the same labelling in the US as in England) I don’t specifically choose organic as (as far as I know) here this only refers to what the chickens are fed, although I could be wrong.

  • Allison November 19, 2009, 1:51 pm

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 4 years, and I eat a limited amount of eggs and dairy. However, I have 2 pairs of Ugg boots. Am I a hypocrite? Maybe, but those shoes are DAMN comfortable.

  • sondra November 19, 2009, 1:55 pm

    i’m surprised that only one person who replied shares my views (jenna h). i do think it is hypocritical for people to go vegetarian for animal welfare reasons and continue to consume eggs and milk. consuming these products directly results in the pain and torture of chickens and cows. just because you’re not consuming their flesh, doesn’t mean their lives are any happier or deaths any less painful than livestock.

    yes, every bit counts. but to try to justify only eating meat “once in a while” or putting just a “splash of milk” in your coffee, to me is no different from a rapist claiming to only rape a woman “once a year.” or even once in a lifetime. guess what, that one woman was still raped, and that one cow still died because you wanted just a little meat.

    heck yeah it’s hard sometimes to be vegan, if it was easy everyone would do it. but instead of focusing on the things i can’t have (cheese, meat), i focus and get excited about the things i CAN have (country fried seitan!).

    obviously this argument holds no merit for people who don’t give a crap about animals (which is a whole other debate), but i just wanted to put my two cents in.

    • megan November 19, 2009, 2:00 pm

      This is an interesting comparison. I don’t know if I, personally, would compare raping a woman to eating a hamburger, but I guess I understand your point. If you legitimately view killing a cow to be as bad as rape, or some other serious crime, then I guess you are right. You should be consistent in your beliefs. I don’t personally see anything wrong with killing a cow for meat, however, so your statement jumped out at me. Do other vegetarians/vegans put eating meat/killing animals for food on this same scale?? I’d be interested to know!

      • caitlin November 19, 2009, 2:03 pm

        no, i do not think eating meat is even close to rape (as a former rape counselor in college). and i think that when people make inflammatory and grand statements like this, they only serve to scare away people who MIGHT be interested in leaving more about vegetarianism/veganism. veganism does not have to be an extremist lifestyle, but statements that that seem highly extremist to me.

        • caitlin November 19, 2009, 2:03 pm

          that being said, of course, everyone has a right to be an extremist if they wanna be. 😉

        • sondra November 19, 2009, 2:07 pm

          i’m sorry, i didn’t mean to say it’s as bad as rape. what i did mean to say is, that what’s done is done. if people legitimately feel it is wrong to kill a cow, but just eat meat once in a while, the cow is sill dead. to me, there is no gray, it’s only black and white.

  • Alison November 19, 2009, 1:56 pm

    It’s easy to be a vegetarian if you’re an educated, upper-middle-class individual who lives in a city or the suburbs (which most food blog readers seem to be). But it’s idealistic to believe everyone should do it. Try lecturing about vegetarianism to those who live in rural areas and eat what they hunt (my inlaws, who live in northern Michigan). They will laugh at you! 🙂 My inlaws have never eaten a processed piece of food in their lives. They are huge environmentalists. They hunt humanely and legally. They help control overpopulation so animals don’t get hit by cars. Labeling them as unethical just isn’t right if you haven’t lived a few days in their shoes.

    • Vicki November 19, 2009, 3:48 pm

      Hunting is entirely different than factory farming. Just speaking for myself here but I don’t think that it is the eating of meat in general that is upsetting so much as factory farming and inhumane treatment of animals. My uncles are hunters and I find it admirable. They are respectful of the life they take and utilize it fully.

      I completely agree with you, though, that it’s easy to be a vegetarian (or vegan) if you are in a position to actually have a choice. Not everyone does.

      • Vicki November 19, 2009, 3:50 pm

        Well, not “easy” but definitely easier. 🙂

  • megan November 19, 2009, 1:56 pm

    Interesting post, and I enjoyed reading through all the comments so far. I eat meat on a fairly regular basis. Mainly beef, as I don’t like chicken very much for some reason. But the beef I eat was purchased by my family from a farm near their area. We all went together to purchase a large amount of meat and just split it up. I could go visit the farm anytime I want and see how the animals are treated. Would you eat beef again if that was the case?

    That being said, I definitely respect your opinion (and anyone else who has posted on here about being vegan/vegetarian). I just don’t have the same misgivings about eating animals.

  • Lizzy November 19, 2009, 1:58 pm

    I eat a lot of chicken and eggs and do feel guilty about it. I try to buy free-range and everything, but I hate that the better the animals are treated, it seems, the more expensive it is! I don’t make much money, I am still a student, so it is truly a battle in my head about saving money, or buying what i believe in.

  • Nicole (dishin') November 19, 2009, 1:58 pm

    This post is really good, Caitlin. It’s a really interesting discussion. I definitely think about eating locally and organic a lot and in a perfect world, I would always eat organic and local as well eating as free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, etc. But, unfortunately, due to time and money constraints, I can’t always eat items the way I want to. I won’t skip going out to a restaurant with my friends if it’s a burger joint – but I won’t make it a daily occurance either. I can’t see myself as a vegetarian but I want to keep working to eat mindfully – understanding where my food is coming from and making ethical decisions most of the time. I think that’s the important thing, making decisions that make you feel good about yourself and how you’re treating the environment.

  • Tracey@tropicalhappiness November 19, 2009, 1:59 pm

    I have a question… this might open up an entirely different discussion… do any of you feed your pets vegetarian/vegan diets? I have been researching pet food (I have two cats), and the ingredients in many brand-name pet foods is not a pretty picture.

  • Jessie (Vegan-minded) November 19, 2009, 2:00 pm

    I was vegetarian for a few months before I went vegan, and I personally made the switch for the ethical reasons you mentioned in your post. I understand when you say you feel like a hypocrite, because that is exactly the way I felt. I also felt that it wouldn’t be too difficult for me to transition to a vegan lifestyle, which is another factor that motivated me to do it. Everyone is different and has to do what works for them. Being vegan works for me, and I feel good about the food choices I make on a daily basis because of it. Thanks for the insightful post!

  • FoodFitnessFreshair November 19, 2009, 2:05 pm

    Great post, and site! I think that labeling myself as a vegetarian (although I’m really a pescetarian) definitely initially helped to keep me from eating meat. With time, now I don’t even really think twice about it.

  • coconutbutter November 19, 2009, 2:07 pm

    I found your blog and think it is great. WHat an insightful and well-written post. I am not vegan, but I have strong respect for it and have incorporated a lot of vegan meals and snacks into my eating lifestyle. I do enjoy this post though, and if I have time later I will try to read back some so I can get some more ideas. This is great. I would love for you to add me to your blogroll, but I realize that you quite popular in the blog world, so you’ll be on mine anyway.

  • D November 19, 2009, 2:16 pm

    I can have a healthy and fulfilling diet without meat, so I choose not to eat it. Nutrition and ethics play a a part, but at the end of the day, it’s as simple as I don’t need meat, dairy or eggs to be happy or healthy, so I don’t feel comfortable eating them. A lot of people say that they don’t eat meat because if they had to kill it themselves, they couldn’t, so they don’t want someone else to kill it for them. I personally believe the opposite. If I lived in the wild and HAD to kill an animal to survive? I probably would, it’s survival instincts. But the reality is that I don’t, so there is no need for me to eat an animal just because it’s there, or because we are socially conditioned to do it.

  • Christine N November 19, 2009, 2:16 pm

    I 100% believe that everyone needs to make the choices that are right for them. Whether that is eating meat vs. not, driving to work vs. carpool or taking the bus, etc. Personally, I do eat meat but I also eat a lot of meals that are vegetarian and some that are vegan. I enjoy tofu and meatless “meats”. What I is important to me is that I am eating organic food and I almost always try to make sure if it is a meat product that the farmers are ethical in their treatment of animals.

    Just as a side note though. A guy I date was a vegetarian and he opened my eyes to going against all animal products. To those vegetarians out there, do you have any leather products? Any fur products? What about soaps, lotions, etc that are vegan/vegetarian friendly? Just some food for thought.

    • Amy November 19, 2009, 2:24 pm

      Looks like we were on the same page! I just posted a similar question below! 🙂

    • Lindsay November 19, 2009, 3:37 pm

      I started out by veganizing my diet, then moved on to the other things I consume. I still own/wear/use some things that aren’t totally vegan. For example, I decided that I was personally okay with wearing the leather things I already owned, but I don’t buy leather any more. With the exception of some things I’m still trying to use up, all of my hair products, cosmetics, toothpaste, etc. are vegan. All the vitamins I take are vegan. So the answer for me is yes, my goal is to not consume or use animal products. Am I going to take a non-vegan or animal-tested medication if I get sick and feel that I need it? Most likely, yes.
      A lot of people just don’t realize how many animal byproducts are in things we use. And honestly, that part was 1000 times harder for me to get used to than the dietary part. If you want to do it, you have to be very diligent and research the things you use.
      I think, again, it depends on a person’s reasons and where they draw the line for themselves. There are plenty of dietary vegans, there are vegetarians who are comfortable consuming leather.

    • Jennifer @ His N' Her Health November 19, 2009, 4:01 pm

      Sometimes I feel like a hypocrite for still wearing leather shoes. Granted I have had the pair for 5 years and haven’t bought leather since I became a vegetarian. I also have leather seats in my car. I am not able to go get another car just because of the seats! I never really thought about animal byproducts in things other than food until recently. My plan is to just avoid whenever possible in the future, but still keep the things I already own.

      • Stephanie November 19, 2009, 4:25 pm

        I was going to bring up the same point, too! Glad I scrolled all the way down before being redundant 🙂 I am personally of the “every little bit counts” and “do what’s right for you” stance, but I do think it’s interesting that not many people have discussed all the other animal products (for example, until I read the link last night, I didn’t realize WOOL wasn’t considered “vegan”) that we use….

  • Anne Marie@ New Weigh of Life November 19, 2009, 2:17 pm

    This is a very thought provoking question. I need to think more about my food choices.

  • Amber from Girl with the Red Hair November 19, 2009, 2:23 pm

    In my opinion, people have always eaten meat, it’s the way animals are treated in these factory farms that bother me, not so much the fact that they are killed for food. Because it’s always been that way and honestly, if NOBODY ate meat and no animals were EVER killed for food, I don’t think that work out so well for the world either.

    Anyways, I digress. I DO try to eat ethically. I’m not a vegetarian or a vegan, I’d say I’m a flexetarian, though. I eat meat 2-3 times a week. When I DO grocery shop (meat, vegetables, eggs, dairy, whatever) I do try to buy everything from local farmers. Where I live there is a local dairy farm that I actually had the opportunity to tour, and I ALWAYS buy my milk and cheese from them.

    I think this post was very well written and I really agree with a lot of what you said. What/how we choose to eat is different for EVERYONE!

    • Nicole November 20, 2009, 5:17 am

      I completely agree with you! I am the same way. I do think that a lot of vegans (who are vegans for environmental reasons) are hypocrites when they buy a bunch of packaged vegan food, then judge me when I eat a local/free range/ethically treated steak for dinner then ride my bike into work/to run errands while they are driving around town and do not recycle! I have a lot of vegan friends who are not like that, but I thought that I would mention that! I think that we should all do our part! I really think that we were all meant to eat meat, but not torture animals in the process! Living in Europe for the past 2 years has really taught me a new way of life involving really enjoying the outdoors and food while still being kind to the env and animals. I run my free ranging cows everyday! I KNOW where my meat comes from!

      I don’t mean to offend any vegans, again! I just know a couple that are like what I was talking about earlier! I am trying veganism out for 4 days. It has been interesting and so bad so far!

      • Nicole November 20, 2009, 8:17 am

        Oops! I meant NOT so bad so far:). I’m actually enjoying it!

        I actually run by cows everyday; I don’t run them! 🙂

  • Amy November 19, 2009, 2:23 pm

    I don’t mean this in a negative way at all.. just curious and thought this would be a good place to ask!

    Do vegans/vegetarians traslate=e their ethical beliefs into other ideas of their life: ie wear leather shoes? Wear drug store brand cosmetics? For example, Loreal owns just about every cosmetic line sold in drug stores and they test on animals.

    • kilax November 19, 2009, 9:42 pm

      Amy, a lot of vegans and vegetarians do try to eschew all animals products from their life! I think the people doing it for ethical reasons are more likely to do so.

      Personally, that is an area I try to do the best I can in. The tires in my car have animals products in them. So do the roads we drive on! Glue too… I have found a few great cruelty-free cosmetics, but sometimes I cannot afford them. I try not to buy leather, but I do have leather items. I just do the best I can!

  • Caitlin @ The Twenty-Fifth Year November 19, 2009, 2:27 pm

    Very interesting discussion here – it’s great to read lots of thought-provoking comments from such smart bloggers and readers. 🙂 I love having some more information regarding diet decisions. While I am neither vegetarian or vegan, I have become much more conscious in my food choices and am a very limited meat eater. Many of my friends will come to my house, see a fridge full of organic products and unfamiliar foods and start grilling me on my choices. I think you’re right by making no right or wrong, but rather a personal choice. I am glad I have more information now when I get asked, “Why?”

  • Paige (Running Around Normal) November 19, 2009, 2:44 pm

    Wow, Caitlin! This was very well-written. Great post.
    I respect and mostly agree with your opinions.
    Since starting the transition to become vegetarian, I do experience guilt with not being vegan. Like you, I only buy organic dairy products, and organic meat products for when my husband wants meat. Regardless, I try to limit my consumption of diary products altogether as well.

  • Julie November 19, 2009, 2:49 pm

    I wish I had the option to choose my diet. I am intolerant to gluten, soy, and dairy. I’d love to be able to choose to be a vegetarian or vegan but honestly, that wouldn’t leave me with much to eat. I feel horrible sometimes because I like to be a socially aware person and am aware of the treatment of farm animals, but I still eat meat (mostly chicken and turkey) occasionally. I think everyone needs to do what is best for them – without judgement from others (or yourself).

  • Anne November 19, 2009, 2:55 pm

    Very interesting and not at all leaning one direction or the other. I liked that. I am a real food lover and thus am curious about all sorts of diets. I think it is Mark Bittman that recommends Vegan till Dinner? I tried it but it is hard — meat was no big deal but milk, eggs, cheese…. that was tough.

  • Stephanie November 19, 2009, 3:01 pm

    Interesting post and discussions here..
    My husband and I have decided to limit our meat intake, and often eat vegetarian meals at home and at restaurants. We make an effort to find restaurants that serve free-range meat and frequent those places.
    It is very sad to learn that free-range can be twisted around to just mean access to a run area!
    Knowing this, I will do more research into the eggs and chicken we buy.
    It feels good to know that the animal you ate was cared for and humanely slaughtered.
    I have toyed with the idea of becoming vegetarian for years, but I really do love me some meat 🙁
    Our family goal is to whittle down our meat consumption and try to find good recipes that don’t involve meat!

  • Laura Georgina November 19, 2009, 3:28 pm

    I’m a flexitarian who eats vegan most of the time due to a slight lactose intolerance. Because I didn’t CHOOSE to eat mostly vegan (it was my stomach that did the choosing!), I feel that labels don’t work for me because there are so many factors that affect my own choices, but I would never say that these labels aren’t useful–anything that guides us to make changes for the better is all good in my book.

    It’s normal to feel conflicted about the difference between your beliefs/knowledge (of the harshness of the dairy industry, battery farming, etc) and your own habits, but no way are you a hypocrite for this! You have knowledge and awareness, you are doing WAY more than so many other people out there, and every bit counts. Maybe someday you’ll get to veganism, but in the meantime your choices (and those of anyone who makes measured, thoughtful decisions about how they eat)DO make a difference!

    And on sacrifices–I was vegetarian for a while and missed certain meaty things like crazy (my personal crack has always been pork: chorizo, tenderloin, chops–can I have them all on the same plate, please?) However, as I started (and continued) to cook more and more meat-free dishes, I felt liberated rather than constrained by not eating meet. No more meat and two-veg plates = delicious new foods and cuisines from all around the world to taste and learn to make! My meals are more fun for what they’ve gained than for what they’ve “lost.”

  • Julie November 19, 2009, 3:35 pm

    I love reading your posts. They always spark the most interesting conversations and I’ve never seen a fight erupt. You know how to get your point across in an intellegent way without sounding snobby or holier-than-thou. You know how to give your opinion and appriciate others’. You’re just so darn smart 😉

    I became a pescatarian about 6 months ago after reading Fast Food Nation. It was hard for me at first because I always had either chicken or fish for dinner, and now all I could have was fish…or so I thought. Giving up meat and poultry opened me up to meat alternatives like beans and whole grains, tons more veggies, tempeh and even tofu (which I discovered I do not like). Had I never gone meatless though, I would’ve never tried these things. Eating meatless has gotten easier for me, so easy that I hardly ever have fish anymore, save for the occasional shrimp dinner (that I’m having tonight) or tuna sandwich. I do feel hypocritical by still eating fish sometimes. It’s naive to think fish are any different from cows or pigs, but honestly, I think I only do it because not eating fish would make dinners out difficult for me. I live in the ‘burbs and am surrounded by places that think vegetarian meals consist of tons and tons of pasta. It kind of sucks.

    Another reason I feel hypocritical is by still eating dairy. I really dont think I could give up dairy though, because soy cheese scares me and I enjoy the occasional egg. The dairy I do eat is organic – applegate farms, stonyfield, friendship (not organic but “all natural”). I stay away from processed soy products like fake meats and tofu, and the thought of fake cheese scares me. How do they make it? How processed is it? Yes, I eat processed foods, most foods are “processed” anyway (bread, bagles, cheese!) but freaky cheese with long ingredients lists freak me out. I don’t think I’d ever be able to give up the real deal. However I do enjoy almond mik!

    • caitlin November 19, 2009, 3:37 pm

      thanks for your kind words about the bloggie 🙂

    • Julie @savvyeats November 20, 2009, 11:15 am

      I’m going to have to second the comment about your ability to bring up “hot topic” issues and share your opinion without offending others. There is great discussion going on here because of it!

  • Rachel November 19, 2009, 3:43 pm

    Read ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safran Foer in your SPARE TIME (hahaha). I am reading it now, and I’m having trouble putting it down. It brings up some AMAZING arguments. I am a very infrequent meat eater, and this book is shaking me to the core. It brings up philosophical questions. I plan on writing a response on my blog once I complete it, but Caitlin if you want to email me your address, I’ll mail you my copy when im done. – reduce and reuse!

    Basically, when his wife got pregnant and he had to start deciding what to feed his son, he started researching factory farms, which produce 99% of all animal products in the US – meat, dairy, and eggs. When they were unresponsive, he actually snuck in them in the middle of the night and reported his findings.

    He also brings up some very philosophical questions about meat and dairy culture. Like how our healthy lifestyles get questioned at every turn, vegans are unable to eat the same thanksgiving dinner with their grandmothers, how eating affects relationships.

    i found it entirely more informing than skinny bitch.

  • Kat November 19, 2009, 3:46 pm

    Great post, Katie! I just watched “Food, Inc.” and haven’t eaten meat since (I was a vegetarian for two years but went back to the dark side about a year ago). I agree with your “every bite counts” harm reduction theory – convincing people that they don’t have to have meat with *every* meal, not giving huge subsidies to factory farmers, etc. Not to mention that it is easier to get people on board with small, incremental changes than to try and demonize meat eating, which is quite ubiquitous in our society.

  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) November 19, 2009, 3:50 pm

    I feel like everyone has the right to eat as they wish, and what they wish. I do believe every little bit counts, and everyone should do (and eat) how they are most comfortable, and that’s different for everyone. I personally do eat eggs and meat and dairy (although not great amounts of meat), but I see the moral and environmental merit in choosing a vegan and vegetarian lifestyle. In all honesty, I have considered going vegetarian, but I’m not sure I can commit truly at this time in my life.

  • Rachel November 19, 2009, 3:55 pm

    Another point from ‘Eating Animals’ was that the last flu pandemic in 1918 was avian flu. And with the prevalence of factory farming and use of antibiotics in layer and frier chickens alike, our next flu pandemic is expected to be avian as well. The conservative death tolls for an avian flu outbreak, according to the World Health Organization, are from 4-7Million people worldwide. They don’t even publish the non-conservative estimates. That is obviously a very abbreviated snippet of arguments in the book, but thought provoking when he explains all the science using our own government’s estimates.

    That being said, I feel responsibility to become fully vegetarian, and a little nagging in my head that veganism is really the way to go. Lifestyle changes as personal as a major diet shift are always hard and hit close to home. So far on my vegan days I am still having trouble with hunger and energy level.

  • elliebelle November 19, 2009, 3:59 pm

    The only thing that bothers me about some vegetarians (it seems more vegans completely avoid animal products) is that they say they love animals, and so many people still use and wear leather. Leather is a by product of the meat industry. Same with wool – while a sheep isn’t killed for it’s wool, it’s still a large farming industry. But then I struggle with the substitutes – fake leather, polyester, those are all petroleum products! So, I can’t imagine that they are better for the environment than a natural/animal product is. I think it pulls you in both directions. I talk about fabrics, because I am a fabric buyer – so when I think about these issues, I think also about the other animal products we use. I myself, am not vegetarian, but I do not eat meat everyday. (though I do rely heavily on dairy – I live in Wisconsin after all!)
    Great discussion Caitlin!

  • Janessa ( November 19, 2009, 4:03 pm

    Interesting article and well-articulated comments. I really appreciate you bringing this discussion front and center, Caitlin.
    I’m an ethical vegan (as opposed to a dietary vegan) which means I do my best to cause the least amount of harm possible to all living creatures. This includes wearable animal products, cosmetics and medications that I know are tested on animals, as well as consumption of eggs, milk, honey, etc.
    For me, I want to be as educated, knowledgeable, and compassionate as possible.
    No matter what our diet or lifestyle, we owe it to ourselves and our planet to look into ways we can cause less harm. There’s no “perfect vegan” or “perfect vegetarian”. That concept is silly. We live in a world where everything is touched by corporate greed and animal exploitation; we don’t have to strive for the impossible but we can try as hard as we can to be the best ‘us’ that we can be. If we do this, we’re not hypocritical; we’re just doing the best that we can.

    • Rachel November 19, 2009, 4:06 pm

      We live in a world where everything is touched by corporate greed and animal exploitation; we don’t have to strive for the impossible but we can try as hard as we can to be the best ‘us’ that we can be. If we do this, we’re not hypocritical; we’re just doing the best that we can.

      Well written. If we don’t educate ourselves and make efforts to improve, then we become stagnant, careless people. The constant improvement of our lives is what this debate is all about.

  • Lizzie November 19, 2009, 4:29 pm

    I’ve noticed that my eating habits have changed a lot since I moved out of my parents’ house and out of the college dorms. I eat much less meat without even thinking about it. I was also a vegetarian when I was younger, and had to stop because at that time, I was a much pickier eater, and the label just became too restrictive.
    As a meat eater now, I try to buy more ethical options and do what I can, but as others have mentioned, I believe that human beings evolved to eat meat and I don’t plan to stop eating the occasional chicken breast or piece of turkey at Thanksgiving. That being said, I also think that people put too much emphasis on the protein side of the plate and forget that we’re supposed to be OMNIvores, and that includes fruits and vegetables too! American food tends to be a little bit meat-centric in my opinion.
    Great post Caitlin!

  • alli November 19, 2009, 4:32 pm

    i used to just eat. more recently i have become more aware of what i put into my body. i rarely eat meat and when i do, unfortunately i get what is cheapest. however im hoping to change that. im disgusted and heartbroken about the torture that animals are put through! i do believe that god created animals for the use of man and to be eaten sparingly, however i’m sure he didnt intend for them to be treated with such cruelty. i have a few neighbors who have chickens, i’m going to see if i can buy eggs from them vs the grocery store.
    i can see why people would think vegetarians are hypocrites if they dont eat meat because they are animal lovers. to me i would think that eating animal products would be worse than animal meat—atleast the animal is put out of its misery and dead but the chicken laying eggs lives a horrible life.
    great post! i have put food, inc on my list of things to see!

  • Morgan November 19, 2009, 4:37 pm

    Great post Caitlin! The problem with Food Inc and other forms of media like that, is that the focus is on the negative of the industry. It makes us angry, pissed, but leaves little room for telling us HOW to change what we just saw/read.

    Yes, WE (as in you and I and the readers of this blog) know and understand where/how our food comes from and how it got to our plate. We are responsible consumers.
    The people who need to be educated are still out there, hearing that any protein sourse is good for them, and any fruit/vegetable source too. We need to educate the people who don’t read blogs like this to stop buying products from the top meat producers Con Agra, Tyson, etc because of the horriffic impact they have on the environment and overall health and well being. These are the companies where e-coli starts, then it gets in OUR veggies! And guess what, it doesn’t have to be reported!

    If we stop supporting them now and support the true farmers of America, we can help those “big meat companies” go out of business.

    Support local farming! (No, I am not a farmer!)

    • Julie @savvyeats November 20, 2009, 11:14 am

      This is the same reaction I had to Food, Inc. The factory farms are painful to see, they way the food industry treats farmers is absurd, but what steps can we take to help? There were some suggestions at the end of the film, but I wish they had been incorporated into the movie a bit more.

      We can’t change things overnight, but consumers need to know what first steps they can take to help.

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) November 19, 2009, 4:38 pm

    Loved reading all of the comments to this post.

    I eat meat still but had never seriously given much thought to where it comes from. Then I started to read books like “In Defense of Food” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and they changed my life. Now I see meat as more of a side dish than a main course. I try to eat more of a plant-based diet and to research what I eat more. I think it’s important to do what feels right and I can’t judge other’s diets. I just do the best that I can and try to make a statement with my food choices.

    That said, I am actually going to try to cut down my meat consumption even more. I can definitely live with less and I agree “every bite counts.”

    I love your blog. <3

  • Rika November 19, 2009, 4:46 pm

    I gradually stopped eating meat. I cut down on red meat for health reasons and I just lost interest in meat after a while- Plus, I was also always concerned for the environment and never really found out the effects of eating meat until I took an environmental class. So I was convinced to just stop since I didn’t “need” it anymore. I also think eating meat is pretty gross if you think about.. “rotting carcass”? no thanks..

    However, I still do eat fish and I feel like a super duper hypocrite because fish farming is a total disaster to the environment. But.. I like to think my decision as a balance. I can’t be a martyr, you know? I don’t need to “suffer” for the rest of the world- so I like to think of my fish/dairy/egg eating habits as like an exception. My exceptions are neutralized because I don’t eat any other meat. Plus, I don’t eat those stuff everyday, at every meal like meat eaters anyway- So what I’m doing is a lot better than not being a pescatarian! I’m doing what I can, best!

    And now, I’m alsoconcerned about the treatment of animals :< It's just so sad and disturbing..

  • Katy @ These Beautiful Feet November 19, 2009, 4:52 pm

    I eat meat, but I have definitely lowered my intake of meat tons lately. Last night I ate more meat then I had in a while and I felt awful. Like a brick in my stomach. It definitely made me think that eating less meat is the right choice for me. I’m thinking doing a month without meat and seeing how I feel. While I don’t think I will become a vegan, I think it’s true that if we all thought about what we put into our bodies and how it got on our plate we would all take steps to make better decisions. Since everybody is different and has different needs diet-wise, this would help huge. Every little step can add up!

  • Susan November 19, 2009, 4:57 pm

    I think being “strict” works for you because you feel very passionate about the ethical reasons behind choosing vegetarian. Regardless if you still want or crave meat sometimes. And 7 months isn’t that long, you’ll miss it less and less as time goes on. I was a vegetarian for almost a decade and completely forgot what a lot of things tasted like. However, I didn’t do it for ethical reasons, mine were purely because the idea of eating dead bits of animal grossed me out. As I got older, it started grossing me out less, so there was no sense in keeping up the vegetarianism. Now I eat almost everything (some things still gross me out too much!) and I must admit, my body responds really well to animal protein. I hardly ever get bouts of lethargy like I used to. But that’s me, you do whatever makes you and your body happy 🙂

  • Stacey November 19, 2009, 5:02 pm

    I always buy organic milk/eggs! My boyfriend and I go shopping and I will make sure to get the “cage-free” naturally fed hens..the labels can be so tricky so I have to make sure I read correctly. I became a vegetarian for humane reasons, and I can honestly say that I will never eat meat again. I miss the smells, but then am reminded of the cow or pig that had to die in order for me to eat it, and then I’m okay.

    I’m so much more happier than I used to, it kind of feels like I’m doing my “part” in the better treatment for animals area! I could do better on my cheese buying though!

  • Marissa November 19, 2009, 5:39 pm

    Wow! Lots of great discussion going on! Love it!

  • skinnyrunner November 19, 2009, 5:40 pm

    like marissa said, super interesting discussion and comments here! fun to read!
    i just eat.

  • Sammi November 19, 2009, 5:59 pm

    I became a vegetarian a little less than a year ago. A lot of people will argue with me and I don’t understand why. I didn’t ONLY become a vegetarian because of the mistreatment of animals. It did make me sick to think that I was eating something living. .and I wouldn’t even touch raw meat ever.. it grossed me out. But I became vegetarian because I honestly do not like the taste of meat. I rarely ever ate beef, never ate pork, and relied on chicken. But I realized I only liked the sauces you put on the chicken to make it taste good. Why even bother feeling guilty then?

    It has been extremely easy to transition to a vegetarian lifestyle because I do not crave meat and I don’t think I ever will. I only find problems with avoiding things with gelatin, etc. I have thought of becoming vegan because I despise eggs (so gross to me ughh) and I’m lactose intolerant (can’t stomach straight milk or heavy creams) but I still love cheese and yogurt. I cannot live without frozen yogurt!!! Maybe someday I will give up cheese because it hurts my stomach, but for now I don’t want to..

  • Katie November 19, 2009, 6:03 pm

    As someone who restricted food for years unhealthily, I don’t like to define myself or put a NO on any food. I do eat primarily vegan because I feel better. I have no made the decision about meat on Thanksgiving because well it’s a holiday and free range. I do sometimes think if you are doing veggie fro the animals it is odd to say you’ll still support dairy and eggs. I don’t do it for the animals. I do it for my health… And secondly the environment. I have family in the cattle industry so I have to support parts of the industry. I don’t support inhumane treatment. I think veganism and vegetarinism both are fraught with debate. It’s much more complicated then just saying I’m not eating something. And the reasons behind are just as complicated.

  • Allison November 19, 2009, 6:13 pm

    My ethical eating practices are still evolving. The Husband and I on a TINY budget and still working out how to fit organic food into that budget. A dollar or two more on most food items makes a big difference in our monthly budget, and we don’t have much to cut out.

    I think your stances on vegetarianism and veganism are sound and logical. To each her own!

  • Jennie {in Wonderland} November 19, 2009, 6:36 pm

    Maybe it’s just me but I am so bothered by the phrase, “humanely slaughtered”. Would we EVER say that about a person who was killed? “Well, at least she was slaughtered humanely! She was out in the fresh air, jogged a bit and got to enjoy a yogurt before she died.” Are we kidding with this? It just does not compute in my brain.

    There is nothing humane or kind or good about slaughtering an animal for food. The animal does NOT want to die. The animal does not want to be eaten. There is no way to kill an animal nicely or prettily. It might be quick, but it is still murder and for selfish reasons, let’s be honest.

    No one is doing this with the animal in mind.

    I am so opinionated today. You got me thinking, Caitlin!

    • caitlin November 19, 2009, 6:37 pm

      yea i am tempted to agree. have you seen food inc? the way they kills the chickens on the nice organic farm seemed pretty humane to me – they are out in seconds and don’t know what’s coming. but in factory farms, i just don’t think its possible that they aren’t aware they are about to be hurt.

    • AM November 19, 2009, 7:55 pm

      I agree with you. I would never call a vegetarian a hypocrite, but I became a vegan (from veg) because I, personally, felt hypocritical. I knew i was contributing to atrocities against animals, and it made me feel horrible, guilty, sad, and disappointed in myself. But that’s just *me*. It is, like someone said, impossible to be the perfect vegan. When i bought a car, i picked one with cloth seats. But the pain on the car still contains by-products. When i have a headache, i use alternative remedies. But if i contracted a horrible disease, i’d surely take the prescribed meds. I do feel guilty about that, but that’s not a reason to say screw it, i’m eating meat. (No one is suggesting that, obviously.) As so many people have said, it’s doing what is best for you — and for me, that’s what’s best for animals.
      That out of the way, humane slaughter is an oxymoron. I agree 100 percent. Yes, there are degrees of cruelty when it comes to extermination, but the fact of the killing itself is not — cannot be — humane.
      I think it’s admirable that some people are concerned enough to seek out what is labeled humanely slaughtered meat. I do think that’s a better choice, on the spectrum. But to think of the slaughter as anything other than cruel, i just can’t do it. (I’m trying not to be all rage-y and judgmental, but this is one thing about which i feel really strong.)

  • Jennie {in Wonderland} November 19, 2009, 6:37 pm

    *No one is doing this with the animal’s comfort or life in mind, is what I meant to say. We wouldn’t kill them if we had their welfare in mind.

  • Deirdre November 19, 2009, 7:05 pm

    Thanks for such a well written and thought provoking post. I am a meat eater who frequently eats meals that do not have meat. I do not think I will become a vegetarian any time soon, but I am trying every day to eat less meat because I completely agree with you that every little bit (and bite) counts.

    There are so many aspects of life where a little thing can make a large impact. We volunteer at homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters to help people in situations so much worse than our own. We donate food and clothing so one person doesn’t have to walk around cold or hungry. We take shorter showers, turn off lights, take public transportation, recycle etc so that the world can be a little more green. There is no way we can solve all of the worlds problems. We are imperfect, selfish people who make mistakes all the time. But the point is we KEEP trying. Every little bit does help and every individual can make a difference.

    I agree that everyone must do what is right for him/her. What I love about the blogs I read is that people show how they live their lives without saying I’m right and you’re wrong to their readers. We all must make our own choices, but I think together as a community we can help each other make informed choices that can make each of us happy.

  • Dori November 19, 2009, 7:33 pm

    First of all, I need those taco shells! I eat Garden of Eatin chips all the time, I love what the company stands for, and I never knew they made taco shells. I must find those!

    I think that you are doing the best you can right now with respects to your feelings about the animals, the environment, etc. After seeing Food, Inc and reading The China Study and Omnivore’s Dilemma, I cut out all factory meat. I only ate meat from places I knew with certainty used humanely raised animals. And then I developed an overal total distaste to meat (probably because of all I read) and went veg and do not miss meat at all.

    As for dairy, eggs, etc that was trickier. With my GI problems, eggs is one of the only foods I can eat that doesn’t bother my stomach. And I LOVE the taste. I only buy my eggs from the farmers market, where I know the people and they explain to me how the chickens live. But one day I just finished a 5 mile race and the good brunch places that use the quality eggs (CleanPlates NYC is a book that investigated that info for me) wasn’t open yet, my boyfriend and I went to a diner. I was STARVING since I can’t eat before I run and of the breakfast choices, anything I would have gotten had eggs (eggs, french toast, etc). I was hungry and I wanted to eat and I wanted to enjoy it — I just ran my first 5 mile race!

    I ordered an egg quesadilla from a chicken that I am sure had a horrible life. But at the time, it was the best option for me. And I eat the right kind of eggs 95% of the time, I can’t get it right ALL the time. I enjoyed my meal. On a similar note, I had been eating cheese from wherever because that was even harder to control being out at restaurants and all.

    That said, I have been drasticaly cutting back on all animal proteins after reading The China Study (great, important read if you haven’t read yet) because I am hoping to be healthier and fight diseases better. I am also trying my hardest to avoid the mucus that comes along with animal protein (sorry! gross!) I’ll see how I feel. I won’t ever call myself a vegan because if I eat a peace of bread that has egg in it, fine by me. I feel like making an effort to cut down on my egg consumption is doing my best. Just like you do your best.

    And I think everyone should know where their food comes from. There are so many amazing resources out there these days! I just ordered Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, heard amazing things about it. As long as we make informed decisions, we are so far ahead of where we used to be.

  • MarathonVal November 19, 2009, 8:07 pm

    I don’t think you should feel badly, or hypocritical, for “just” being a vegetarian and for not being a vegetarian. You are making an enormous impact – I once read that going vegetarian is better for the environment than if 100 people traded in their SUV for a hybrid!

    That said, you never know where your life will take you. I never in a million years thought I would ever be able to go vegan – I thought the cravings would eventually get to me – but I’ve successfully been a vegan for 5 our 6 months and have had zero cravings. It has been incredibly easy for me and I haven’t looked back, but it was the right time for ME to make the transition….somehow all of a sudden, it just worked for me! So I think you just have to do what works for you at each particular stage in your life 🙂

  • Leslie November 19, 2009, 9:41 pm

    My brother and I were discussing this issue. We grew up in Iowa where there are thousands of acres of farmland (soy beans and corn) and I know vegans eat a lot of tofu, etc. and the crop lands are really ravaging our natural resources. Some farmers practice good soil conservation but others do not and the soil washes away and destroys the land. Also, many farms were created by draining wetlands and other natural habitat for wild animals. So, the tofu you eat affects animals too. The animals are displaced and sometimes forced into almost extinction by lack of habitat due to farm land replacing natural habitat. Just another side to how eating vegan is affecting the lives of animals in a negative way. I think it just shows that sometimes there are causes and effects far beyond the obvious.

    • Lindsay November 20, 2009, 11:48 pm

      A very small portion of the soybeans grown in the US actually end up being consumed by humans. Virtually none of the soybean crop in Iowa is garden or vegetable variety, they are field soybeans, used primarily for oil and animal feed.

  • kilax November 19, 2009, 9:43 pm

    I’ve always been vegetarian, then vegan, for ethical reasons. I just don’t think animals are here for us to eat. That being said, I do not look down at those who eat animals, or eat dairy and eggs. I WAS surprised to learn how awful the dairy and egg industry is! I think it’s good to have these discussions, so thanks for starting it!

  • ashleigh November 19, 2009, 10:09 pm

    ok. i have been a vegetarian for 12 years. 12! since i was a little girl because the thought of eating meat (animal flesh) made me want to barf. i eat shrimp occasionally and i eat my fair share of eggs and yogurt. i am totally fine with the way i eat and i could really care less about what other people choose to do…however i get questioned ALL OF THE TIME……well if you are vegetarian why do you eat yogurt? shrimp(which i know is bad and only on occasion bc i LOVEEE it), eggs? aren’t your precious uggs made from sheepies?? I eat the way i eat because it works for me… i don’t ask non vego’s why they eat meat! i think as long as you aren’t preaching to other people about how they need to change than every little bit counts!

  • Jolene ( November 19, 2009, 10:41 pm

    I try to eat as ethically as I can, while being a flexitarian. I buy local and organic whenever it is available. I also love to eat veggie meals, and find that when I do, I crave meat way less often.

  • Kelly November 19, 2009, 11:09 pm

    It’s definitely a challenging discussion because there are no easy answers. Anyone who liked Food Inc would definitely like the book The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter by Peter Singer. He has an amazing background in ethics and it shows in how he constructs his arguments. They are very sound and driven by reason, not emotion.

    For me this is something I go back and forth on all the time on whether to become a vegetarian. I eat a lot of vegetarian meals, but have opted not to because I find that when I tell myself I cannot have something I crave it more.

    I base my eating choices on what reflects my ethical principles – this means having CSA shares for local veggies and a CSA meat share for local meat. I chose this farm specifically because they use humane and more traditional husbandry practices. Amazingly, even though I have the meat on hand (I get 5 lbs a month) it’s a challenge for me to finish it even though I rarely purchase any additional meat.

    Another thing I factor in is the fact I strive to eat mostly whole foods. I do this for a number of reasons, but it sometimes comes in conflict with my trying to eat vegetarian. A lot of the meat substitutes are uber processed so I try to avoid them, use a less processed meat substitute, or just eat veggies.

    I don’t find vegetarians hypocritical. What I do find hypocritical is people who constantly judge other food choices because it’s near impossible to be perfect.

    For example you can be vegan but…

    Are you making ethical choices if the produce you buy is harvested from migrant workers who are treated poorly?
    Are you making ethical choices if you consume produce grown in arid areas where there are known water shortages?
    If you are buying products imported from a country where the farmers’ cannot even afford to feed themselves?
    Are you making ethical choices if you are a vegan that drinks non-fair trade coffee?

    There is just so much to consider. I’ve read a lot on food ethics from various perspectives long before Food Inc made it fashionable and the choice is not easy. I’m not including the above to suggest that being vegan or vegetarian is not enough (quite the opposite) but more to say that we should be respectful of others choices because in all likelihood we’re not perfect either.

    I also agree that a lot of people making smaller changes can make a big difference. I may not be perfect but I like to think that by consuming mostly local and sustainably raised foods I’m doing something.

    I also agree that in many ways its a very middle and upperclass thing to be able to debate this and I can eat this way because I have the extra money to spend more for things that match my beliefs.

    • Rachel November 20, 2009, 3:10 pm

      Very good points. Hypocracy is only present when the ‘I’m more vegan/vegetarian/green/whatever than you’ claws come out in the debate. None of us are doing it ‘perfectly’, its the striving towards bettering ourselves that counts. I very much subscribe to the every little bit counts philosophy.

  • Whole Body Love November 20, 2009, 12:12 am

    I eat a mostly vegetarian diet for environmental and health reasons. However, I do buy organic dairy. I will NOT be buying Horizon milk and cheese after this post. Ironically, my fiance dumped out almost an entire gallon of Horizon milk last week because it tasted awful!

  • Tiffany November 20, 2009, 1:01 am

    I love reading about everyone’s adventures in vegan and vegetarianism. I have always wanted to try it, but my husband and kids are less than willing.

    Also, I have a question I’ve been dying to ask. Do you still wear/purchase leather goods or other non-food items that are made from animals? I’ve seen several bloggers who are vegetarians/vegans for ethical reasons, yet they wear leather boots, carry designer bags that have leather, etc. What is your take on that aspect of the veg*n lifestyles?

    • caitlin November 20, 2009, 4:36 am

      i do still wear leather, but honestly – it’s because i’ve never thought about it before today (duh). guess it’s time that i should!

  • Katherine November 20, 2009, 8:11 am

    Great thread! I eat everything, but am trying to be more conscious of the origins of what I eat. I am fortunate to live in Maine, where we have the option of buying local, organic milk, dairy, produce and meat easily. Also have a neighbor who has egg-laying chickens. I know how well they’re treated!!

    I am in my 40s and have learned that moderation in all things goes a long way to a happy, healthy life.

  • Becca November 20, 2009, 6:31 pm

    I have been vegetarian for the better part of three years now. It started after seeing “Meet your meat” on the PETA website, but I eventually got over that, then realized how much better I felt after cutting meat from my diet. I get flack for it a lot, but I do it for no one other than myself and that is the best reason you can have for any decision you make!

  • Hangry Pants November 20, 2009, 7:36 pm

    Well, I think this is super interesting. I think we have different reasons for being vegetarians, which is why I would pick ham off pizza and still eat the pizza. I think it’s more hypocritical to wear leather than eat dairy, but honestly, I can’t judge people who do these things. Everyone does the best they can, or what they think is best at least. Enjoy your vampires. (suck human blood is NOT vegetarian)

  • Hangry Pants November 20, 2009, 7:39 pm

    Oh also Mark posted this link to an NPR story about green-washing (labels like free range, natural, etc.) that I think you would enjoy. I can send it to you if you’d like.

  • Erin November 20, 2009, 9:12 pm

    I have a page on my blog about Ethical Eating. I have strong and formulated opinions about it.

    Yes. I believe most vegetarians are hypocrites, IF their reasons for not eating meat are due to animal cruelty. The harvesting of plants and soy by agribusiness are immensely cruel to the local ecosystem and native wildlife.

    It is completely possible to eat meat ethically. It is hard, yes. But intelligent and diligent people can do it by doing their homework and researching humane, ethical, free trade, low carbon footprint, local options.

    The problem I have with labels like vegetarian and vegan is that a lot of folks wear them as a badge with complete lack of acknowledgement for their contribution to the ills of agribusiness, even if just plant-based.

  • Marianne November 21, 2009, 3:43 am

    I think by putting labels like vegetarian, vegan, or whatever on oneself is what fosters the idea of hypocrisy, because it means there is some ideal to attain to, and someone will always be “more vegetarian” than someone else. I don’t know – I’m just not for labeling the way you eat. Eat what you eat, for the reasons you want to.

    • caitlin November 21, 2009, 6:58 pm

      true – i agree! labels are tricky.

  • Nicole, MS, RD, LD November 21, 2009, 10:27 am

    Wow! So glad I ran across your blog! I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, but more flexitarian than anything. I limit most meats, especially red. I can count on one hand how many times I have red meat in a year. I consume at LEAST 1, if not 2 or 3 meat-free meals a day. I do feel that those following a vegetarian diet have an obligation to purchase free-range, organic eggs and milk, especially if they abstain from meat due to ethical and humane issues. Eggs and milk are the 2 items I insist on buying organic and all-natural. My husband is a penny pincher, so it is a constant battle to get what I “want” as far as organic. Great post, love it!

  • Maureen @ Notes on a Visual Life July 7, 2010, 5:45 am

    Wow, I’m really coming in on this late. Just discovered the blog and am lovin’ it! I just read through loads of comments and one thing stuck out to me so much that I just can’t keep my mouth/keyboard shut. Commenter Jenna H.(#34) wrote that she does see vegetarians as hypocrites for not being vegan. Fair enough. But she, a vegan, does do drugs. But where do those drugs come from? Firstly, the adderall capsules contain gelatin (a vegan no-no) and secondly (more importantly) who on earth knows where the coke came from? Thousands of HUMANS are brutally murdered each year in drug trafficking violence. There is a decent chance the coke that just went into your body has human blood on it (metaphorically speaking). I think I could sleep better at night knowing I ate an egg from a friend’s backyard coop. Again, to each her own and drug use is a TOTALLY different topic but I think we have to be aware of what we’re consuming whether it be our food, personal care products, OR drugs.

    • Caitlin July 7, 2010, 10:48 am

      I agree with you 🙂

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