Friday, January 14, 2011

Being A Vegetarian in America

I recently became a vegetarian.  I tried it out for about three weeks, then went back to eating meat for a couple weeks, and decided that a vegetarian lifestyle was definitely the way to go.  My reasoning behind it is two-fold.  First I came to think that while it isn't inherently wrong to eat meat, in a society where you can live without it, why not try it out.  Animals have brains and are able to experience fear and pain.  My other reason for going back to it is the way I felt physically.  When I started eating meat again I felt more bloated and heavy in general.

What brings me to this blog post is the way vegetarianism is treated in the United States.  I don't eat out all the time, usually once a week when I go out to dinner with my mother, but when I do go out I find that my menu options are usually very limited.  Meat is Might in America it seems.  Most of the time I choose an entree such as a big salad or pasta dish and ask them to leave the meat out.  The majority of the restaurants I visit do not have any meals that are explicitly vegetarian. 

Restaurants that cater to vegetarians do exist.  I work at a restaurant with a number of menu items that vegetarians go for, such as veggie burgers, veggie sandwiches. vegan stuffed peppers, and vegan sausage.  The cafe where I work is very progressive in my opinion.  They are open to all walks of life and truly enjoy when people who have differing lifestyles come in to eat.  This isn't something I think is true of most restaurants in my area.

Statistically speaking, the United States eats more meat than any other country.  A lot of people I know scoff at vegetarians and vegans.  My personal vegetarianism isn't as strict as some.  I still eat eggs and cheese and drink milk.  My policy is that as long as it didn't used to be a living animal I'm cool with it.  I also try to eat organic foods although that is sometimes not possible and is usually expensive.  The only restaurants I frequent that offer vegetarian meals, other than where I work, are Subway, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. 

Meat and potatoes is the norm, with vegetables and fruit as an afterthought.  On a typical day a person needs about three ounces of protein.  In the U.S. most people eat a lot more than that.  You can go into a restaurant and order a 12-ounce steak.  Some places serve 1/2 pound burgers.  Is it any wonder that we are the most obese country in the world?  Pretty much every restaurant I go to serves extremely large portions, with the meat dish being the largest.  Like I said, Meat is Might. 

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