Vegetarian Experiment (Day 17)

Posted on Aug 18, 2011 in Life, the Universe, and Everything | 0 comments

Vegetarianism is something I honestly never contemplated until recently. I did, and still do, believe that the motivation for practicing vegetarianism is important and while there are very legitimate reasons to be a vegetarian, there are also impractical reasons to choose a vegetarian diet. Namely, the “fuzzy animals are cute” argument. Eating animals is a natural activity for humans. I have always admitted the fact that there is pretty solid evidence out there, both evolutionary and medical, that suggests animals should be eaten sparingly. But, the reality is that they are an excellent source of protein, vitamin B, iron, and other nutrients. It’s hard to justify eliminating them entirely from your diet when we have an omnivorous capacity. Or so I thought.

And yet, until 17 days ago I was eating a Wendy’s Baconator at least once a week – a 930 Calorie sandwich, 520 of which come from fat, containing no vegetables whatsoever. So who am I to criticize anyone’s dietary habits?

The notion of trying vegetarianism was inspired by a friend who is a committed vegetarian, who is also both educated and intelligent. Driven mostly by sheer curiosity I felt somewhat compelled to learn more about it.

The evidence is solid. His reasons primarily revolve around the notion of reducing his carbon footprint. And it’s actually stunningly true, the meat industry’s carbon foot print is horrific. In simple terms, eating 4 ounces of beef is roughly equivalent to driving your car about 7 miles. Four ounces of pork is 3 miles. So in my baconator, two quarter pound patties of beef is 14 miles of driving, plus four strips of bacon at roughly one ounce each is another 3 miles. That Baconator cost the planet 17 miles of car driving. Not to mention the six mile round trip I drove to buy it. Of course, these numbers are fairly meaningless in the sense that cars have widely differing mileage so it doesn’t really tell you much about actual gasoline consumption. But, as a person who otherwise drives roughly 30 miles per week in a Honda Civic and tries to avoid running air conditioners and leaving lights on, I don’t like to think that I was unknowingly running up my own carbon footprint.

Finally, from a medical standpoint (because medicine is my life) vegetarians have a lower incidence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and overall a lower total level of mortality. Basically vegetarians live longer.

So long story short, I was surprisingly easily sold on the notion and excited by the challenge of making a radical change to my 90% meat diet. I’m on day 17 of the one month I decided to undertake it, and I’ve never felt better. I can’t decide if it’s because the diet is by default healthier or if it’s actually a result of the exclusion of meat from my diet. Or perhaps it’s entirely psychological. I can’t really say. I’m still torn as to whether or not I want to continue it beyond a month, and scientifically it’s difficult to justify things like eggs but not chicken, both of which carry a similar carbon footprint. But do I really need to justify it at all?

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