Image is the masthead for this website: http://www.worldvegetarianday.org/
October 1 (today) is World Vegetarian Day, and I think it's a day worth celebrating! And you don't have to be a vegetarian to celebrate it. In fact, if we all just ate a little less meat, and when we do eat meat if we purchased it from LOCAL farms and farms that produce it humanely, then we'd go a really long ways toward giving our overtaxed planet a little breathing room.
Can you spend the rest of today not eating meat? How about tomorrow? Can you cut down your consumption of meat, in general? I'm not a 100% vegetarian. I'm probably a 95% vegetarian. At home, the DH and I eat a vegetable-fruit-grain-and beans-based diet (we include dairy and eggs). This diet helps me to feel GREAT! I actually feel better when I don't eat meat. I also acknowledge this is not the case for everyone, but for me it works.
The phrase I'm growing comfortable with is a "flexitarian." That means I am flexible in my food choices. At my house, being a vegetarian is not only easy, it's also fun, nutritious, colorful and very tasty. However, when I visit someone else I eat what they serve me with gratefulness. I fretted over this for some time when I began the path of being a vegetarian about a year ago. I decided fretting was undoing some of the goodness of what I have gained, and that's just silly.
I don't believe everyone needs to eat a 100% vegetarian diet, and so I don't have an issue with eating a little meat now and then when it's served to me in the spirit of hospitality and love. What I do believe is that we all, as a species (and especially those of us in developed nations), need to live more lightly on the earth. One primary way we can do that is to eat MORE veggies and fruits, beans, grains and nuts, and to eat LESS meat and highly-processed foods. Your health is worth it. Our planet - our only home - is worth it! I try to think of it like this - it's not a matter of what I can't eat, but rather an investment in myself and in the health of our world. It's not a scarcity mentality, but one of abundance.
I took a class last fall, based on the book by Jane Goodall, Harvest for Hope. I highly recommend the book, tho not all of it is a pleasant read. This book is what pushed me to finally give the mostly-vegetarian lifestyle a chance, and I am so healthy and happy because I did!
Here is what Jane says, "I believe that the single most important thing we can do, if we care about the future of the planet, is either to become vegetarians or to eat as little meat as possible, and that only from free-range organically raised animals."
By the way, this is not an anti-farming post. In fact, I come from farming families. Farmers are near and dear to me. My hope is that the move toward (return to) sustainable and organic farming practices will help the farmer of today. When farmers grow meat in a sustainable manner, they are paid more for it. As the demand for good meat grows, the unhealthy factory farms will diminish. We'll be back to the style of farming that is what draws farmers to it in the first place - the kind where they have a powerful, natural connection with the earth and with the animals.