The most important thing about eating meat or not is having a habit for
eating richly salted meat or not. If you eat that regularly (as well as
other salty foods), all other, non-salty food will taste bland. If you get
off these 'in your face' food for a period of time, non-salty food becames
as tasty as meat-based food, and then you'll never be able to take part in
heated arguments pro or vs, because there won't be much difference to you.
Both options will be equally acceptable, as far as taste is concerned.
I eat vegetables for the last 2 years. I do this for mixed reasons.
Hodge-podge or reasons
Meat takes long for me to digest. I like the feeling of lightness and
alertness when all food is digested. I come from work at about 5:40, if I
ate right away, I'd be heavy and my mood would be lower until sleep. If I
ate later on, I'd not get a good night's sleep. Meat does not taste good
to me unless it's quite salty. I find salt has an unpleasant effect on me,
too - it's a little like caffeine jitters. If I eat 5 (yes, only 5)
good-sized potato chips on an empty stomack, they'll have enough salt to
make me queasy. Meat of high quality is expensive. I don't make much
money, and this is somewhat important for me. I've heard cattle is fed
antibiotics and hormones. Grass-fed 'natural' cattle is more
expensive yet and has to be ordered by mail, or so I hear. Again, this is
impractical to me. I'm peaceful by nature and I'd rather not kill anyone.
I never had to, and though I think I may kill an animal or a human (not
much difference, imho), if pressed, I'd quite simply rather not do it. On
top of that, if I *do* kill someone, I'd do it myself. I'll take a knife
and cut the throat, get my hands all bloody and sticky, drink the warm
blood first and then cook the meat - this just feels more honest than
hiring someone to kill for you. If it's a human, I'll only do that if
he attacked me and I had no other recourse, and I need his body for food.
If it's an animal, I'll do that if I'm starving but it's not necessary
that he attacks me first. In a shipwreck scenario, I hope I won't let
hunger get the best of me and make me a cannibal, but of course you never
know until you're right there on golden beach, by azure waves, under
romantic palmtrees, 2 weeks passed since your last potato-and-broccoli and
a cup of hand-rolled georgian tea. As far as taste goes, I find that a
well-done meat dish is very tasty, but (sorry), I find a well-done vegie
dish tastier yet. One thing about meat, though, of a somewhat redeeming
nature, is that you can have a salty piece of meat in a fridge with
something on the side, and you can re-heat it and it will taste half
decent and filling. A nice dish of freshly prepared vegies will be *much*
better, BUT it will take some time to prepare, and sometimes you're hungry
*and* tired. On the other hand, I find vegies unpalatable when reheated,
or cold for that matter. So, the meat totally has the instant
gratification appeal. If I always had some meat at my place, it could be
much harder for me to keep up with vegetarianism. In two years I ate meat
5 or 6 times, never more than half or a third of a portion. It's tasty and
filling but so are some vegie dishes.
Another reason is that I practice yoga and it recommends to avoid meat.
In one of his books, Swami Sivananda says "one who eats meat can become a
warrior or a scientist, but rarely a yogi".
In yoga, there is no vegie/meat diet division. There are three kinds of
food, instead: sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. The first one, sattvic, is
the one that's good for yoga practice: vegies, fruits, grains, milk, nuts.
Sattvic food makes your mind calm, dispassionate and concentrated -
qualities necessary for yoga practice. Rajasic group is meat, onions,
garlic, all sour, hot, pungent dishes, salt, pickles, etc. This group
makes you agitated and excites passion. Tamasic food makes you heavy and
inactive; eggs and some meats (I don't remember what else) belong to this
Sivananda says that onions and garlic are worse than meat. Yogi Bhajan,
though (of Kundalini yoga school), recommends using some Rajasic foods,
and in particular onions and garlic. Sivananda allows black and red pepper
on grounds that they assist digestion. (I think).
Anyway, the core of yogic approach to diet is that one should eat to
live, not live to eat. Food is fuel, it allows me to live, experience,
move, work, love, and so forth. I am not to focus on the sensuous pleasure
of food. Light, simple food is sattvic. Another aspect is that one should
not be dependent on one particular food - if there's rice I'll eat rice.
If there's potatoes I'll eat them. If only meat is available, I'll take
that, not giving much thought to it. Refusing a meal because it is not
sattvic is bad karma. The idea is not that eating this or that is bad, but
having a dependency and drug-like attachment to a particular taste. This
isn't entirely true, though, because meat diet will have effect on your
body even if you don't have mental attachment; but the essential idea here
is that if there's no attachment, you will tend to pick the 'right' food
and eat the right amount, not more than you need or less than you need.
No convincing proof
I have no mathematical proof that sattvic food is better or healthier. I
find that it is, for my own body, and I suspect that it is for most if not
all other people, but I'll never try to convince anyone who is attached to
the taste of meat or onions, for example, because there can be no proof
obvious enough in this case to override that attachment. If there is no
attachment, or someone finds this food taxing, he can try it and may
convince himself, or not; but as for me, I'll never be able to do that and
I will never waste my time trying.
I think a lot of vegetarians perhaps do it to feel superior. But that may be said of any other endeavor. A scientist may have become such to feel intellectually superior. Ditto for a programmer. A businessman may have chosen that path to be materially superior to someone. I guess to avoid this accusation you have to be very careful to stay very average. What, you're watching a movie that did not do well in theaters? What the hell, you think you're so tasteful and we're all dumbasses?
When I used to eat meat, my attitude was generally that, yeah, maybe I shouldn't, but nothing else tastes good. Or it does, but is not filling. If I had known a vegetarian, I may have felt that nobody can put up with that only because of highly abstract idea of some animals suffering somewhere who'll be killed off anyway, and so the only 'real' reason must be that he gets off feeling superior to the rest of us. The fallacy here would be that vegie diet taste is in any way inferior to meat based diet. But, as I said above, if you're accustomed to the taste of salty meat, this is true to a large degree. So, instead of a whole life of tasteless, unsatisfying food you really only have to endure maybe a week or two. For me the benefits were good enough - I'd do it even if it took a year.
My typical meal is romaine-based salad, some cooked grains with butter and
vegies on top. I often drink milk and eat fruits.
My salad will always have some romaine in it, because it has the most
amazing aftertaste, that kicks in after you eat half the salad bowl. It's
the tastiest flavor I ever met, by far. It's amazing. I could add spinach
or celery, cabbage and other stuff.
The 'filling' food is mostly potatoes, rice, pasta, buckwheat, always
with generous chunk of butter (very important! taste improves by tenfold),
and lightly boiled asparagus, or broccoli, cauliflower, or maybe
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day