I’ve been asked this (and variations of it) more times than I care to remember, even by complete strangers at corporate dinners! I suspect if you asked 100 veggies the same question you’d get 100 different answers.
I usually give people a short answer: I just didn’t want to eat meat any more (the questioner usually takes this as a criticism of their own eating habits and generally starts to mutter about humans needing to eat meat!)
However, there’s a lengthy background to that short answer: I was always picky about what meats I would and wouldn’t eat; I would never eat fish on the bone and I wouldn't go anywhere near offal, veal or game of any description, then during the 1980s I stopped eating beef because of the first instances of CJD. Sometime in the early 1990s I was watching a magazine programme on TV where a veggie was putting forward reasons for not eating meat; unsurprisingly, she took a fair amount of stick from the studio audience and, completely exasperated, she finished by saying “I’m sure you wouldn’t eat your dog, so why do you find it OK to eat any other animal?” Bonnie, our much loved Cairn terrier (now sadly deceased) was asleep in her customary position on my lap at the time. She was my shaggy-coated shadow, my four-legged friend; I would no more have eaten her than I would have eaten my own leg.
The woman on TV had unknowingly struck a chord in my subconscious; I started to think a bit more about what I was eating and I set off on a train of completely stupid irrational behaviour…
I started by not eating any red meat, but chicken and fish were still alright; this led on to my not eating any meat I could identify, so e.g. a sausage was OK, but a roast chicken wasn't; I then had several months where I only ate meat that I could identify, so a roast chicken was OK but a sausage wasn’t! There was even a short period where I would cook a casserole or a curry for the rest of the family but I’d pick all the meat out of my portion and only eat the sauce!! Yes, I know, I know.…utterly pathetic!
Eventually, about two years after seeing that TV programme and after a lot of faffing about, I knew that all meat and fish had to go. I had one last omnivorous Christmas dinner, and that was the end of that...
I’ve never knowingly eaten meat or fish since Christmas Day 1995 and I can honestly say, hand on heart, that I do not and have never missed it. I’m completely at ease with my dietary choices and I never judge other people about what they eat, because it’s none of my damn business. It’d be nice if I was afforded the same courtesy, though.
So, in order to draw this rambling post to a close…..
Do I think vegetarianism is a good thing? Yes; for me, unequivocally.
Would I encourage anyone else to go veggie? No; absolutely not. Everyone should make their own decisions and eat whatever they’re comfortable with.
Will I ever go back to being an omnivore? Not a chance!