Why I became a Vegetarian

The probability of a SRI investor being a vegetarian is higher than for non-SRI investors.  How much higher, I don’t know.  But it seems logical that SRI investors that are more aware of the bigger society and negative derivative effects from large farm factories, etc. would be inclined to abstain from eating animals.

Below is a transcript from a speech I gave at a local Toastmaster’s club:

Good evening fellow Toastmasters’ and guests.  Tonight, I’m going to talk to you, perhaps convinceyou, or even better, inspire you to become a vegetarian. 
In my personal experience, people are extremely sensitive about what they eat so I wasn’t sure about speaking about this.  I’d add “eating habits” to the list of taboo topics to bring up at a dinner party, like politics, religion and money.
But wait a minute…..EVERYONE lately seems to be talking about Trump, so then maybe I can talk about my eating habits.
As a background, let me give you a brief definition of a vegetarian and derivations of that:
·      Vegans:  don’t eat ANY animal products including dairy products
·      Pescetarian:  eat fish but no other meat
·      Ovo-Lacto:  don’t eat meat but eat eggs & dairy (that’s me)
·      Fruitarians: only eat fruits and nuts.  These are the hippies of the world
·      Also, some vegetarians don’t use animal byproducts (e.g., leather)
I started being aware of vegetarianism when I was dating a girl who was one.  For me, vegetarians were like other-worldly religions.  I knew that they were out there, but I never had to think about it.  My girlfriend was kind of preachy about it and her anti-American antics. 
One time we were on vacation in Poitou-Charentes, which is a beautiful region on the west coast of France that’s known for its oysters and mussels.  So while restauranting, I did my proper duty and ordered a plate of oysters.  As I was enjoying my freshly shucked oysters my girlfriend critically noted how if I looked closely I could still see them wiggling.  Needless to say, it was years later until I became a full fledged vegetarian (2010).  (Reminder:  Nobody likes being preached too!)
The process of becoming a vegetarian was easier than I expected.  What’s helped me become disciplined in many aspects of life is not becoming hung-up or guilty if I had wanted to eat meat on some days. 
Here is a list of pros/cons of why I am a vegetarian.
·      You are saving countless lives of animals
o  When I first realized, as a young boy, that my dinner was once a living breathing animal, like our family cat.   I rationalized that they lived tranquil lives on pastoral farms, but in fact they lived in prisons called factory-farms.
o  I will not show you any gruesome photos.  That, my friends, is only a Google search away.
·      Your energy footprint declines substantially.  Here are some key facts from vegetarian.procon.org:
o  Over 10 pounds of plant protein are used to produce 1 pound of beef protein
o  It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef and it takes only 220 gallons of water to make a pound of tofu.
o  Did you know that the livestock industry produces 18% of all greenhouse gases?  That’s more than all forms of transportation COMBINED.
·      You are more accepting and empathetic of others’ dietary restrictions
·      May prevent certain diseases
·       Helps keep down your body weight
·      Your skin even starts to look more “glowy”.  I’m starting to sound like a TV commercial…
·      TMI Alert:   Pooping becomes a lot easier and an overall smoother process
·      You give up fast-food almost instantly.  Few fast-food restaurants have veggie options.
Some drawbacks:
·      Everyone and their mother asks why you don’t eat meat
·      You come across as thinking that you are better than everyone else
·      Vegetarian restaurants can be pricey
·      There are some detrimental health effects if you don’t get enough B12 or protein
·      Choosing what to buy is a lot of work, but this burden is what it’s all about
o  When I good food shopping I have to read the labels carefully.  The same thing goes when dining.  I can’t simply order a French Onion soup because after doing some research I discovered it’s not just Onion and cheese.  It has a beef broth base.
·      People may view you as “not normal”
o  Definition of normal:  conforming to a standard, or the common type (“commoner”)
o  Noun: the average or mean
o  In Mathematics:  being at a right angle
Some of you may remember my first speech, the icebreaker, in which I described growing up in a “parochial” “small town” in the Bronx.  There, parochial wasn’t just the name of the catholic school I attended but a way of thinking.
I rarely questioned anything and was taught to be highly obedient to authority.  But then something magical happened when I became a vegetarian…  I starting thinking because I had to !
The process of identifying vegetarian ingredients in cookbooks, reading labels etc.., grew into questioning every page of my life.  It was like Peeling an onion to find the truth.  Since then, I’ve never looked back.  When I delve into an issue, I don’t just look at it from a right angle.  Instead, I look at it from all sides including secondary and tertiary affects.
Hmm…maybe I should have changed the title of this speech from Why I became a vegetarian to How becoming a vegetarian changed my life.
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