Vegetarianism and Me

I’m going to do an experiment.

I’m a born-and-bred, beef-farmer’s-daughter, eat-steak-rare, proud-to-be meat eater. Always have been. Some women like chocolate on Valentine’s Day, I’d rather have bacon. (Yes, bacon in a heart-shaped box would be nice.)

But, I got to thinking, what kind of personal challenge would it be to go a week without meat? Could I do it? What would it be like? During my stint in Wisconsin, I’d go a day or two without eating meat and never think about it. That was partially because meat wasn’t offered; it wasn’t available. Now, I’m back on campus where meat products abound and my self-control will have to be significantly higher.

But, if you think about it, it’s an interestingly new view on the food system. While my meals are normally based around a meat products and what “goes with” it, for the next week (or however long I last, since I’m not sure I can make it a week) they’ll be more…I don’t know. I can’t explain it.

So, either way, I’m starting a week-long experiment. This experiment, if it’s a success, will open my eyes to a lot of the not-so-appreciated farmers out there. I know I’ll eat a lot of salad; do I ever bother to thank lettuce farmers? What about spinach growers? I’m so quick to #thankafarmer for beef and bacon and chicken on Twitter, but when’s the last time I thought about thanking cucumber growers?

See, while I’m doing this as a “just because,” I’m finding there’s opportunity in this fun self-challenge. I’ll gain a new appreciation for the food I eat, and a new appreciation for the farmers I usually forget about.

In closing: thank you, meat producers. I’m already excited to join the ranks of your consumers once again, and can guarantee that I probably won’t last the full week. And to the veggie, grain, and fruit growers (and dairymen…I’m still doing dairy!) out there who will provide a large portion of my nourishment, thanks! I look forward to gaining a relationship with you.

To view the continuing adventures of my week-long stint as a vegetarian, see my next post: Observations From My First Two Days.


20 thoughts on “Vegetarianism and Me

  1. You’re welcome for the dairy products. I know I can go a few days without meat but life without milk would certainly a lot harder. Perhaps that’s because I’ve built my diet around it being the most plentiful food product on our farm. This may sound surprising coming from a dairy farmer and direct to consumer meat producer but I think many people would be healthier if they set aside a few meals each week to support the fruit, veggie, edible bean, etc. farmers. I wouldn’t be offended if people did in fact I’d probably start growing lentils or something yummy. Just my thoughts.

    • Thanks, Tim! I knew I couldn’t cut dairy out, because 1. I love cheese and 2. I’m going to need the protein.

      I agree, we all need to reassess our eating habits now and then. We do need to be more conscious of what we eat, and that includes having a diversity of fruits, vegetables, and legumes in our diets.

  2. Kelly, interesting and worthwhile experiment in keeping an open mind. It seems to me that in most cases being “positional” about our diet preferences is expected if we’re vegetarian. I only met one very wise vegetarian who shared with me that he always has at least one very large t-bone steak every year to remind himself that being vegetarian is a conscious choice…not a position. Best wishes on your experiment.

    • Great thoughts, Warren. I want people to understand that I’m doing this as a choice, and it isn’t necessarily a lifestyle change. It’s a decision, not a motion again farmers and ranchers that produce the meat products that I’d normally consume everyday.

  3. I think this is a great idea. I eat a lot of salad because I like it, but we don’t go very long w/out eating meat around here! It’s pretty much a staple at every meal- be it, pork for breakfast, beef for lunch and chicken for dinner.

    As an aside:

    I don’t like being called a farmer, Kelly. In our experience here in SD, most farmers are NOT cattlemen, and as such have a mixed lot of miscellaneous cows; they’re not particularly concerned with raising a good quality meat, as is evident by looking through their herds. Their cattle typically handle like crap, as they do everything ass-backwards on them. They’re not particularly thrifty cattle in the winter. All the cows we ever made the mistake of buying from farmers are not ranch cattle- they’ll put their heads up and run for cover when you ride by them, typically because in our experience farmers don’t work their cattle with horses, and they don’t know enough about cattle to work them like the cow would prefer. Additionally, there are virtually ZERO subsidies available in the US for cattle ranchers; unlike the subsidies available to farmers in the US and the subsidized beef being produced in Canada.

    Chances are a real cattleman doesn’t raise anything but beef, and enough hay to feed them through the winter.

    That said, I’m thankful you like beef! And a bloody, rare steak, now that is the best!

    • Jenn,

      Thank you for giving me that more clarified and regional version of what cattlemen are; I’d say it’s probably a little bit different in Illinois, since most people here (even the really serious beef people) don’t have enough grazeable land to raise only cattle. There’s a cattle industry, but most cattlemen are also farmers. I don’t know if that makes much sense, but from my own family’s history, we used to raise beef in conjunction with corn and soybeans. I think regionally it changes. Thank you for adding the opinion to the topic, and I CANNOT wait to eat a nice rare steak when all this is over.

      In the future, I’ll try harder to differentiate between cattlemen and farmers. Thanks!

    • I would like to know where you learned that Canadian beef is subsidized? I would like a piece of that action, being a Canadian cattle farmer. I mean, if its available and all my peers are collecting, why am I not? So if you could direct me to where you found out about these subsidies, that would be great. Thanks.

  4. Good luck with your experiment. I’m looking forward to reading how you make out. It’s always hard to change an ingrained habit – especially one related to eating, which we do every day.


  5. Kelly, I often don’t really think whether I’ve eaten meat for a day or not… Sometimes I might go 2 days without eating meat (sometimes I forget to count the slice of ham on my sandwich), other days I eat meat for every meal and as a snack in between. It is not like I consciously say to myself: “I have to eat meat this very meal!” It is more a unconscious craving, a way of the body to let me know, hey bud, I need some of those nutrients in meat. I know growing up, we had some sort of meat with our main meal about 3 or 4 days a week, another day we had meat as kind of a side dish, and the other days, we had meatless meals. But we always had sandwich meats for supper.

    • I agree, half of the reason I’m thinking about meat so much is because I know I can’t have it when I get that subconscious craving for it. If it’s out of sight, it’s pretty well out of mind, too. The times it gets difficult is when I go to the cafeteria and they have hamburgers or (like last night) sweet and sour pork. The few quality meat dishes we have at the caf tend to be coming out of the woodwork this week just to spite me!

  6. Kelly – congrats to you for such a great idea. I have been thinking of doing this for so long, but with far different motives! Are you going to post about your experience? Thanks for being such a postive role model of agvocacy.

    – Buzzard

    • Hi Brandi!

      Yeah, I’ll probably post an update or two, and wrap-up with my insights and perspective on how the week (or however long I last) affected me and my views on food. Thanks for the comment, and thank you for the wonderful compliment. It’s great to get to agvocate alongside you!

  7. Hi Kelly, I am anxious to hear all of your feedback on this experiment. After this you can try a week of vegan. Take pictures, journal about it and let me know. I personally love meat and dairy way too much to ever going with out and it is also a part of a very healthy diet for me!

    • I love meat and dairy, too, so I think that’s half of the motivation for this. You don’t know what you’re missing until…you, you know, miss it! So far I’ve only taken one food photo, but now that I have my new Droid there may be more vegetarian-related pictures in the future. And I’m not sure I could do a week as a vegan! Being a vegetarian is hard enough, and I’m sure I haven’t found enough creative ways to get protein!

      Thanks, Katie, for the support, the comment, and the time!

  8. Pingback: Observations From My First Two Days «

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