In middle school, it seemed like all of my friends were giving up meat, and I wasn’t slow to join them. After a bad experience with some black pudding (it’s seriously gross), I became a vegetarian.
That didn’t last long because steak is delicious, but going from omnivore to herbivore and back again really allowed me to appreciate meat for what it is: a healthy, filling protein that helps your body function.
Since becoming a meat-eater again, I’ve sometimes struggled with feeling guilty for my food choices. Now that veganism seems to be the trendy lifestyle choice, it can be hard to justify eating animal products, but I’m sick of feeling like a bad human for enjoying a tuna sandwich or a slice of pizza.
If you’re stuck in the same rut and sometimes feel a little guilty for enjoying that Thanksgiving turkey, read the following words of wisdom from a former vegetarian and never stress about your dietary choices again.
1. Going meat-free is a lot of work.
When I was a vegetarian, every meal was a struggle. I could either eat what my parents had cooked for dinner, minus the meat — which left me with half of a meal — or try and fend for myself. That usually resulted in sad veggie burgers, limp tofu, and endless scrambled eggs.
As a meat eater, it’s so much easier to throw grilled chicken onto a salad or ground beef into some chili. Not only is it faster, but it’s way more filling than the vegetarian version. I no longer find myself getting seconds of everything in an effort to feel satisfied.
2. Meat is good for you.
While peanut butter and quinoa also contain protein, you can’t beat meat when it comes to health benefits. There are so many helpful nutrients in meat that vegans and vegetarians are missing out on.
The most unique health benefit of meat lies in the B-vitamins it provides. Not only does meat have a higher concentration of B-vitamins, but consuming meat is the only way to ingest vitamin B12, a nutrient that is essential to the function of every cell in the human body.
This study actually found that 92% of vegans and 47% of “lacto-ovo” vegetarians had some form of B12 deficiency. This can be detrimental to essential brain functions, so it’s something to be wary of. While B12 supplements exist, the real thing is always better.
3. Eating meat-free is repetitive as hell.
Unless you can afford to buy a lot of different meal staples at the grocery store, most vegetarians are stuck with a handful of protein replacements to add to a dish.
Tofu, rice, beans, veggie burgers, tempeh, and mushrooms are good in moderation, but after your third vegetarian burrito of the week, you start to get sick of the bland, brown, soggy food you have to deal with. You start fantasizing about juicy ribs, meatballs, and fried chicken. Next thing you know, you’re drooling all over your overcooked mushroom medley.
I know that not every vegetarian lacks creativity like I do, but it can be seriously boring to avoid meat.
4. You can still be an ethical meat-eater.
Nobody likes factory farms. They’re cramped, dark places where animals are abused and fattened for their entire lives, only to be killed in torturous ways. Promoting an omnivorous diet doesn’t mean promoting the livestock industry.
All meat eaters should be aware of how they encourage the meat industry, and take steps to eat more ethical animal products. Words like “organic,” “grass-fed,” and “free-range” are good markers of ethical farming. An even better option, though more expensive, would be to buy meat from family-owned farms or butchers in your area. Not only does this ensure that the animals you eat had a better life, but it also supports local businesses.
5. Meat is just really tasty.
This argument isn’t ethical or logical, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t important. There are so many kinds of meat and so many ways to prepare them that I’ll never run out of scrumptious dishes to try. To me, nothing is better than greasy sausages or a nice grilled steak. I wouldn’t give those things up unless I absolutely had to.
Eating meat doesn’t make you a bad person — as long as you remain educated, ethical, and accepting. I’m confident that meat-eaters and vegetarians/vegans can exist in harmony, without anybody feeling guilty for their choices. Not convinced? Here’s a handy beginner’s guide to veganism.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go fry some bacon.