I filmed this video a month ago, edited it a week ago, and changed my mind about whether to upload it or not about a thousand times. But as Mistral Spirit is my creative outlet and this is something I’ve thought about and researched a LOT, I’ve decided to upload it anyways. My goal with this is to share my own thoughts and experiences and that’s all. I might come out tomorrow and say I’ve gone vegan, who knows? I’m human too and I don’t have the right answers. I’m still going through my own journey of determining what I want and can eat. In the end, I think we have to make a choice and this is the choice I’ve made at this point in my life.
Also, I want to mention that I’m open to any comments and criticism; I think having an open discussion about the arguments from both sides is valuable!
SO, at the start of 2018, I decided to try being pescetarian for ethical reasons. It seemed that there were so many reasons for it and no reason in the world not to. Plus, the “lifestyle” side of my social media was saturated with messages about veganism and vegetarianism that I felt compelled to give it a try. After all, why eat meat when we really don’t NEED it?
Reasons NOT to eat meat
Here are some of the most prominent reasons to be vegetarian. I haven’t bothered to include data or anything, but honestly if you research hard most of the data will be contradictory.
- why eat meat when it’s not a necessary part of our diet (we can get protein from other sources)
- animals are sentient beings that we ought not to exploit for our benefit
- egg and dairy industries cause a lot of suffering to animals
- the impact of these factory farms on the environment
Yet after three months of being pescetarian, it didn’t feel quite right for me. Although the reasons against eating meat resonated with me, most of them seemed exaggerated. And it felt uncomfortable labeling myself and being restricted by a “diet” rather than by my choices. Eating plant-based with occasional meat or seafood (that I purchased from sustainable, ethical sources) seemed a more reasonable, realistic, and healthy lifestyle.
But try as I might, I could not find any concrete reasons to eat meat that would convince me to. After taking part in a wine tasting while on vacation, I finally reached a few conclusions…
Reasons to eat meat
It’s unhealthy for our minds. As a way to ensure we eat “healthy”, we mess with our own minds and create extremely restrictive diets consisting only of foods we deem “clean”. Even the whole image of “eating another animal’s flesh” is exaggerated to create disgust, which is unhealthy.
There is evil in the world. People exist who torture other people. Who beat dogs. Who boil lobsters while they’re alive, and slit pigs’ throats so they bleed to death. The world is disgusting, and we don’t want to take part in that. However, veganism can harbor an unrealistic mindset that is very naive and sensitive – of course we won’t be able to get consent from animals, but is occasional meat-eating really the thing that will solve this? There are other ways to advocate against animal violence.
We all know that this planet isn’t a perfect sphere of rainbows and unicorns. We are here to survive and to put OURSELVES first. I’m not an egoist, I don’t think people are naturally evil like Hobbes said, but I believe that we cannot possibly live productive, happy lives unless we focus on our needs first. If I want to eat a little bite of a steak or add a bit of chicken to my pasta, then I will do me. If at the same time I want to lead a plant-based lifestyle, eat organic, and just make choices that feel right to me, then I will.
Meat is a culinary experience. It forms the basis of many dishes, and we ought to appreciate the nourishment that the earth and animals provide for us. To do this, we should TASTE our food and obtain it from ethical, sustainable sources.
Not to mention that fitting yourself into a little box so you can call yourself “vegetarian” restricts you from making choices based on the situation and your actual needs. If someone cooks a soup for me made of chicken broth, I don’t want to be constricted because of my “diet”.
My diet is my diet. I don’t like beef, so I don’t eat it. I find quinoa bland, so I don’t eat that either. I also don’t feel the need to label myself a “chicken-but-not-beef-and-gluten-free” individual. I’m Ioana, that’s who I am.
Diets with unprocessed foods may actually be healthier AND better for the environment – soy products are processed in huge factories as well, with added chemicals!
The Bottom Line
All in all, I’ve come to the conclusion that meat is something that you can eat and enjoy but should limit. We’re not killers and yes, it’s true: our diets DON’T need to be filled with meat. However it’s a food and it nourishes us and is extremely healthy. It’s not highly processed like many other foods today and contains many excellent nutrients. It’s yummy. There’s no reason to adopt a strict diet or fit yourself into a perfect little box. Not to mention that there’s also no right answer. What you eat is your choice, and sometimes you’ve just got to go with it and stop overthinking everything.
Most importantly, and as I learned in the wine tasting, we need to truly TASTE and enjoy our food. That is the mindset that promotes the most healthy lifestyle. Not only will your body tell you what it wants, but you’ll be more in tune with your actions.
Anyhow, without further ado, check out my video where I talk about this in more detail!
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April 16, 2018 at 10:30 am
I think this is such an interesting post and you did such a great job of explaining you’re reasons for your actions! I’ve always been very conflicted on becoming vegan or vegetarian mostly because my family are pretty big on meet and dairy etc, but I’m always seeing people talk about how wrong it is and how I contradict Myself because I only use cruelty free makeup products/brands “but what’s the point you still eat meat” and that’s always compelled me to want to stop and do better until I realized I didn’t need to change who I was based on other people’s values/opinions, if you do decide to become vegan or vegetarian I hope you make another post saying how it went! I love your channel btw✨
April 21, 2018 at 1:17 pm
Thanks Kelsey! <3 That's also a big reason for me too – I don't want to be restricted when I visit family or friends and they cook me a meal, and it's a big part of my family's culture. Honestly, I think it's important to just do our own thing, and not worry so much about what it's called. I think it's fantastic that you use cruelty free makeup though! 😉 And for sure, I will!
April 16, 2018 at 6:31 pm
Hi, Ioana! First of all, interesting points. You always articulate yourself so well, and I can tell you think a lot about what you want to say and how you want words to be taken. I’m glad that you are an open-minded young adult, much like myself, who is brave enough and interested enough to have these sorts of discussions. You’re an inspiration. <3
That being said, I am a vegan, and I disagree with your points about the shimmering, glamourous, but always elusive idea of Culture, as well as with the fleetingly phrased "the impact of these factory farms on our environment" (although I'm sure you didn't mean to be cursory or inattentive :-). ) I'm twenty, and in July I'll have been vegan for 2 years–I went vegan at your age, coincidentally. I consider myself an environmental vegan, but I think that environmental veganism bleeds into ethics, and not just for animals (I have always thought that going vegan only for the animals and nothing else, while noble, is a bit of a flimsy argument in the face of avid meat-eaters because the logic is that with artificial insemination, the number of animals able to be produced is virtually infinite), but for the people who produce these animals for our mindless consumption. And before that, there are the people who slave away, sometimes and often outside of their will so that these animals we treat so poorly and think so little of can be fattened, cooped up and slaughtered. Usually the people planting and harvesting and raising these animals are marginalized groups, and in many parts of the world, these marginalized groups are starving and get paid very little for all the work that gets put into our indulgences. You talk about taste and enjoyment, but is a fleeting taste, a blip of an experience that you admitted we don't often think deeply about, really worth so much labor from people, so much suffering and murder not just for the animals, but people? I think in first world countries like America, or in your case, Canada, it is so easy to not even think about it, but these people think about it and resent it, burn under the strain from their skin to their souls every single day of their lives.
Culture is an interesting construct. What is culture? You're interested in philosophical examination, and like any young and promising intellectual I can tell you like to be challenged and convinced of things, even if it requires the unravelling and re-examination of previous, carefully reasoned out thought patterns. But I — a person who loves to read classics and write on philosophy and paint and view other ancient people's work, and who deeply loves and appreciates aesthetics and beauty– don't quite buy the authenticity of "culture." What is it but what we make it out to be? It changes and morphs to the high-fashion of the time, and you know what critics of a bygone era will say? "Wow, that was a Golden Time!" even if it wasn't. The truth will be that it was a Golden Time for very specific people, but for everybody else, it was quite ordinary or sometimes it was a practice in drudgery. The culture we create has often been built on the backs of slaves and unwilling participants. The highlight reel is selected and played over and over again before our believing, starry eyes. But most of the world Then was much like ours Now. A gold-dusted masquerade of Puppets and Survivalists.
Which brings me to my next point (I swear I'm almost done, I wax poetic activist very rarely. I'm not much of a fighter of many battles, but I know you really are a good listener and will take what I'm saying with an open mind), that survivalist practices that most people call "self-interest" or appreciate as "putting ourselves first" are actually beneath our grandness as human beings. If we are the great and towering minds that we think we are, what are we doing trying to "survive" off the suffering of others (other humans, other sentient beings, our planet and thereby future generations, et cetera, et cetera). We are free to make decisions that don't necessarily benefit ourselves immediately but which could exponentially benefit the world in the long run. You've heard the arguments about "supply and demand." But this also applies to unfair labor and unfair treatment of our species as well as others. If corporations saw that enough people cared enough about the imbalances of power to significantly impact their profits, the world could change for the better. And not all at once, but slowly, bit by bit. And if only a few hundred families are helped, that is still an impact that can make all the difference. Culture then can be redefined. Written anew by people who aren't simply white and male, but inspired individuals of color and various socioeconomic backgrounds. I know this may seem to have traveled very far from the question of "to meat or not to meat," but if examined closely, it really hasn't.
And for the "do it for the animals" argument, because it does deserve a shoutout: If we are to value true beauty and harmony in the littlest things then we are more apt to value it in other people. It keeps us sensitive and less hypocritical, and I do like avoiding hypocrisy wherever possible. Sensitivity and empathy are what this world needs, I've realized for a long time now. It doesn't need more people to sing odes to civilizations long gone when our civilization is an industrialized, cheapened expression of even THAT former time's cheapened imitation of lost "culture." Soon there will be nothing but shadows and smoking ash heaps of what we once found Beautiful and Pure and Just–all gone, all forgotten as it was in truth, and nevermore to be recovered except in the dusty tomes of literature.
So why not make culture and history rather than reflect and recycle it?
Culture just seems a paltry answer to the reason for destruction, especially if that culture is an idea built on distortion.
Thanks for reading all this, if you did! Love your videos!
Sincerest warmth and best wishes,
April 29, 2018 at 9:32 pm
Hi Lexi! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts in such a detailed and articulate comment. Saw it when you first commented it and finally set aside some time to thoroughly read it. I have to say, you have a beautiful way with words.
I totally agree with nearly everything you said. In occasionally eating meat, I don’t at all deny that the industry is horrendous in its treatment of the people and animals involved, the corporations harm the environment, and that eating meat calls into question issues of ethics. I also love your point about culture being something that we create – because I truly believe that as well.
The only thing I would want to look into further is the suffering that you say workers go through. Having studied economics, I feel like there’s more research to be done about this. Wouldn’t boycotting the industry entirely cause more harm to the workers in developed countries? Maybe we should take direct action to help encourage growth and development in those countries rather than simply refusing to purchase from them. That’s more of an economics discussion rather than a philosophical one.
As for eating meat or not eating meat – I very rarely eat meat anyways. For the past week I haven’t had any meat, and even made an effort to drink plant-based milk options. Then, today I went out for dinner with my family to a restaurant where the only vegetarian option was a salad, and as I’d just had a salad for lunch, I decided to order a chicken-based meal instead. Call me selfish, but coming from a place of eating insecurities and struggles, I’d rather nourish my body with what it feels that it needs at the moment rather than nourish need to feel morally perfect and satisfied with my choices. Not at all putting down people who stick to a vegan lifestyle. Those people really are amazing, and heck, they probably are morally superior to me. But, I’ll reiterate the cliche: I’ve got to do what works for me.
Anyways! Sorry this was a bit of a rushed reply, and hopefully you’ll know that I don’t mean to come across as rude or dismissive in any way – just wanted to share a few thoughts in return. Thanks again for your lovely comment and I hope to chat with you more! I love meeting new “young intellectuals” my age, even if just online! 😉
May 10, 2018 at 11:04 am
Thank you for reading and replying! I’m always glad to hear people like my writing style, since I am, in fact, hoping to make a career out of writing books and short stories. Makes me so happy! <3 🙂
I definitely agree that you should do what's best for you, especially if eating and nutrition have been a bit of a struggle for you. I have similar problems and tendencies for unhealthy thought patterns which I've been trying for a few years now to mend. There's also a lot to be said for individual experience and it's responsibility takes on different shapes and meanings for people of different lives and philosophies. And in these cases "selfishness" is also subjective to the actor and their audience. Moral perfection is also probably an unrealistic achievement, probably on practicable in characters like Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky's "The Idiot," (a great read, btw; you should check it out if you haven't already :)) and which is, again, highly subjective to the actor and the audience.
Also totally agree with your point about how best to help developing countries. Personally, I'm very anti-tourism of developing countries because it all just seems vulgar and dystopian, knowing your experience is very filtered compared to the lives they are living outside of the resort/hotel one is residing in. I think if one is to travel the world, they should definitely be trying to help the less fortunate in more direct ways, and I definitely don't think veganism is the best way to help that sort of thing; you're right, it is more political and economical than that. I just think if the WTO, IMF, and IMO knew that we don't want as much from other countries, they'd probably be permitted to thrive off of their own produce as well as go back to living lives pre-neoliberalism (although I'll admit I'm not entirely sure if that's possible; let me know your thoughts on that, if you would :).) Check out this documentary if you have time, called "Life and Debt." It talks about that sort of thing in Jamaica.
Anyway, you're awesome no matter what you choose for yourself. Sorry for the essay, I tend to ramble. Haha! Thanks again for the reply and I also hope to chat more. 🙂
April 24, 2018 at 8:05 am
I saw your tweet about animals and thought I will check your website. I like it!
I love pets. I have two beautiful thai cats called Tammy(female) and Yommo(male). Yommo is 1 year older than Tommy. He acts like a bigger brother for her. 🙂
I have even created an Instagram account for them ( https://www.instagram.com/tayo_home/ ) and probably soon they will have more followers than me (kinda funny).
I have subscribed to your newsletter. 🙂
Keep up the good work on your blog.