Wednesday, September 1, 2010

What is a Vegetarian?

A vegetarian is someone who only eats plants and does not eat animals. It is amazing how this simple definition has been so corrupted, changed, nitpicked, redefined, and even blasphemed over the years.

Now the buzzword is vegan, which means one does not eat animal derived products either- such as dairy and eggs. This has been expanded to include gelatin, carmine, stearates, and numerous other animal ingredients. (A good idea if you can keep track of them all).

The carnivores are the ones who really corrupted the word though. There are morons that seem to believe the claim that fish are plants. They claim to be vegetarians- except for seafood, which makes them "pescatarians". Then there are the ones who like to think that birds are also plants. They don't eat "red" meat (cows), nor pork, but they have no problem eating chickens, turkeys, quails, ducks, geese, etc. They call themselves "pollo-vegetarians". This is an absurd corruption of the term "lacto-ovo-vegetarians" that later led to the term "vegans". There are even some poser-phonies out there calling themselves "flexitarians". They eat meat when they feel like it.

I recently read a study that referred to "veg*ns", which meant vegetarians or vegans.

The vegan crowd likes to fight with the vegetarians. They think they are better than the lowly dairy and egg eaters. The dairy and egg industries do contribute to cruelty to cows and chickens in a big way, and wreck your health as well as the environment- just like meat does.

There are a few things they do not consider though. Animal rights groups, especially PeTA, continually promote the nonsensical idea that being a vegan is cheap: since you don't buy meat it saves X amount off your grocery bill. They do not mention that the non-purchased meat will be replaced with plant products. And plants are more expensive to eat than animals. Fruits and vegetables are downright expensive, and meat is pretty cheap. This is unfortunate but true. The healthier foods always cost more. Whole wheat breads and flours cost more even though they are processed less than shelled and bleached 'white' flours. It's the same with brown and pure cane sugars compared to white sugar. It also costs more for organic veggies than ones that were fertilized and sprayed with pesticides. It costs them more money to grow the unhealthy stuff, yet it costs us more money to buy the more healthy stuff. Living as a vegetarian- of any sort- is expensive. If you are not fairly well off, you must replace veggies with pastas, as they are cheaper. They are not as good for you, but you have to afford being a herbivore somehow.

This brings me to a stranger problem many get themselves into. They decide to stop eating meat. They look up info on 'how' to be a vegetarian; they ask around. Then they try it. First, they notice their grocery bills are higher. Then they find that they are getting tired of the few replacements they have found for their meat habit. The cornucopia of meatless alternatives that the animal rights groups tell them are all over the grocery stores just aren't there (unless they shop at a major health food store, which are just in the bigger cities, and are an option only for the rich{see sidebar}). They rarely get good advice from others, and see all of the crazy formulae the vegan sites promote: eat one ounce of blackstrap molasses, 3 ounces of red beans, and 8 ounces of green leafy vegetables per meal. then... Give me a break.

At some point the new vegetarians usually turn to cheese as a replacement. I call these folks "cheesatarians". Cheese is barely- if at all- any healthier than meat. Avoiding dairy completely, as in all ingredients of all foods- is nigh impossible, especially if you are on a budget. But replacing meat with cheese pizzas, cheese burritos, ice cream, cheesy 'helpers', and so on will only clog your arteries even more than before.

Others turn to the fake meat products. I call them "meatatarians". Fake meats are a good snack from time to time, for something different. But they are simply way too expensive to eat regularly. They also continue the drive for the meat taste, and make kicking the meat habit nearly impossible. A relapse is sure to occur before long if you replace meat with stuff that looks, smells, feels, and tastes like real meat. Add in the fact that it costs ten times more, and sooner or later you will likely just switch back to the real stuff. If not, and you have no troubles buying fake meat over a long period of time- good for you. But for beginners, if you are serious about quitting, do not switch to fake meats. If nothing else, they will drain your pocketbooks. Peruse these actual prices I found* (expect much higher prices at "health food" stores):

sausage patties:
fake- .42 per oz.
real- .37 per oz.

sausage links:
fake- .84 per oz.
real- .27 per oz.

fake- 1.31 per oz.
real- 0.22 per oz.

ground burger:
fake- .29 per oz.
real- .12 per oz.

chicken strips:
fake- 1.12 per oz.
real- 0.16 per oz.

chicken patties:
fake- .33 per oz.
real- .21 per oz.

burger patties:
fake- .35 per oz.
real- .10 per oz.

hot dogs:
fake- .25 to .37 per oz.
real- .10 per oz.

other fake meat prices:
chicken nuggets- 6 oz.: 5.55
meatballs- 10.6 oz.: 5.55
turkey roast- 16 oz.: 7.88
turkey burger- 9.9 oz.: 5.39
beef tips- 9 oz.: 5.39
buffalo wings- 9 oz.: 5.39
deli meat slices- 5.5 oz.: 2.95

(*figured from lowest prices of 6 different brands of fake meats and numerous brands of real meats at two different large-chain stores. none were on sale. prices from year 2010.)

So in order to prevent yourself from becoming a 'meatatarian' or a 'cheesatarian', how do you switch to vegetarianism?

Simply stop eating meat. I covered this in detail in an older post. But what you should not do is worry about protein, nutrients, or other garbage. Just eat any plants and no animals. It can be that simple. Is a fish an animal? An oyster? Of course, but are they conscious, do they think and feel, and how does it harm the environment to farm clams or cod? Look it up on the net and find out. You will be shocked. I suggest erring on the side of caution and just eating plants only. Only. NO exceptions based upon excuses you or someone else thought up- just a line you drew beforehand: no animals.

This will make you a vegetarian. Simple isn't it? As for dairy and eggs- that depends on what you can afford to buy and not buy. Purchase the healthiest stuff you can, and if you cannot find anything without a cream or other dairy ingredient in it, well you tried. Just stick to the no animal rule, and let dairy and eggs become a gray area. Screw all the labels and bickering. Do what you can.