Just my own personal beliefs and reflections.What being a Vegetarian Means to Me..
It means I am healthier... A lot of major illnesses in Western society are the direct cause of eating animal products in extremely large quantities pumped full of growth hormones, antibiotics and other things most people don't want to know about. I orginally went vegetarian because, I had gotten really sick eating animal products. Vegetarians are at a much lower risk now for many things including heart disease, stroke, cancer, high bad colesterol and full blown diabetes. Also the idea that Vegetarians can't get enough protein, iron etc is a myth. Western society eats way too much protein that it actually causes health problems. (Now if I could only quit smoking too).
It means that I made a moral decision... I do not believe that eating animal products in our society is moral. Most meat comes from factory farms where the animals are harmed or tortured before being finally killed. Certain meats like veal (baby chained up beaten cow) and lamb (baby sheep) are unconciounable in all cultures. Eating meat can only be moral in small amounts in primarily indigenous socities who live close to the land, have a relationship with the animals, let them live free, and as the Kluane people of the Yukon recognize animals as 'other then human persons.'
It means that I am an environmentalist... The meat industry is one of the largest producers (and some have argued the largest) producer of climate change. Between the destruction of forests for cattle grazing, the use of oil in factories and transportation, the shear amount of food it takes to feed animals, the polluting of the hydrosphere, the methane that the animals produce and the amount of land it takes to feed one person using meat in comparison to feeding them using plants the meat industry is by far one of the most destructive on this planet.
It means that I am privileged... To be able to live in a society where options for vegetarian foods are plentiful and being able to buy those foods is a privilege of location and class. Rarely (except in certain cases like parts of India) has before modern times have people been able to survive as vegetarians and in many parts of the world today due to poverty and inaccess to certain foods considered common here people would not be able to survive as vegetarian.
It means that I am attacked and deraded for my beliefs and choices... Despite many omnivores claiming that they cannot stand pushy vegetarians who espouse their beliefs, many more attacks come the other way. I am regulairly verbally attacked and deraded for being a vegetarian. I have regulairly been put in situations where people have to prove to me how much they love meat when I have never commented on their choices. I have had many people who consider themselves my friends make offensive jokes about vegetarians in my presence. Yet, I believe peoples prejudice is their own to conquer and that many of these issues stem from omnivores (and yes you are omnivores not carnivores or 'meatatarians', though human beings can survive as purely herbavores they cannot survive as carnivores), not being comfortable enough in their own choices when someone who has made a different choice is nearby.
It means that I love animals... I have a deep respect for all other animals on this earth on a intrinsic level. Though I will kill something such as bugs if they are a danger to my health or life, I try to avoid doing so. If I were ever to kill an animal for food it would be done with respect for that animal and reverance for the life it gave for me to live.Written after one too many verbal attacks about me being vegetarian