Notes on Becoming a Vegetarian / by Nathan Jones

Gnocchi with pine nuts and spinach, garnished with Parmesan cheese. Currently my daughter's favourite dish.

The realization that it was both possible and reasonable for me to become a vegetarian surfaced exceedingly slowly in my conscious mind. Though I was deeply moved years ago by Schlosser's Fast Food Nation and Foer's Eating Animals, and had been considering a plant-based diet for over a decade, it wasn't until the beginning of this month that I finally decided it was time for me to stop eating meat. 

These are my reasons for becoming a vegetarian:

  1. Desire for personal health and well-being.
  2. Concern for animal welfare.
  3. Concern for the environment.

Specifically, I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian, that is, I do not eat meat, poultry, or fish, but do consume eggs and dairy products. I do not rule out the possibility of either narrowing, or expanding, these restrictions. This is an experiment.

"Becoming" is the operative word. I have come to peace with the realization that my adopting a strictly vegetarian diet is a process rather than an abrupt transition, not because I personally lack discipline, or have an overwhelming desire to eat meat, but because I find it difficult to enforce my restrictions in family and social settings. Therefore, over the last month, I have eaten meat on four occasions; whenever I have been free to choose, or prepare, my own meals, however, I have always eaten plants. I don't consider this a failure, in either practice, or resolve.

I don't feel hungry. I don't lack energy. I haven't lost weight. I don't miss meat. I'm comfortable with my decision and excited about exploring new kinds of taste experiences.

(My becoming a vegetarian has coincided with a return to cycling. I now ride 200-250 km a week. I also run and swim occasionally. It is not a problem for me to satisfy my caloric needs without eating meat.)