By Jessie Gray | September 10, 2015
I’m at a restaurant with some friends, and the waiter is going around the table taking our orders. Someone orders chicken noodle soup; someone else gets a ham and cheese panini. As he approaches me, I ask if there’s any way to make the chicken alfredo vegetarian. Of course there is, he tells me, and moves to the friend on my right. She looks at me with big guilty eyes as she orders a cheeseburger and immediately apologizes after the waiter moves on.
This happens almost every time a friend realizes I’m vegetarian. Each time, I explain my abstinence from meat is a completely personal choice, and I’m not going to storm out of a restaurant because people are eating it in front of me.
Over the years, it has become apparent many people who choose to eat meat really internalize a lot of guilt about that part of their lives and, not surprisingly, it seems to come to the surface when they eat it in front of a vegetarian.
My level of guilt about consuming meat compelled me to completely stop eating it about eight years ago. For some people, that’s simply not a lifestyle choice they’re willing to make. Enjoying the taste of meat doesn’t make you a bad person. However, there are ways to consume animal products that are more humane and will alleviate a lot of that internalized guilt that comes with eating a once-living thing.
The number one reason I don’t eat meat is because of factory farms. These are places where animals such as cows, chickens and pigs are confined to small, painful spaces where they can barely move, are injected with growth hormones and live their lives never seeing the outdoors or engaging in natural behaviors. They stand in their own feces, inhaling ammonia and biting each other out of fear and stress, causing open sores. Ninety-nine percent of meat products come from these places because it’s cheaper to produce and makes the huge food corporations a lot more money. They continue to run only because we continue to support them.
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