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The Singapore Vegetarian Meetup Group Message Board › Why are you vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian/etc?

Why are you vegetarian/vegan/pescatarian/etc?

Joe G.
Singapore, SG
Post #: 33
Edit Apr 28, 2009: I've added a new post on why i've turned vegan, find it a few posts below this one!

It all started back in 1998 or so when I was still a teen pretending to be a young adult with blue hair. I was bored out of my skull, visiting a Chinese temple for my grandfather's death anniversary. The boredom was so intense that I started flicking through the reading material they have at the temple and I was shocked to find a thin book written in English amongst a heap of Chinese texts (which I can't read without extraordinary effort). The book was written by an Australian monk and there's the usual discussion on Buddhism but there was this small chapter too on vegetarianism.

Although I didn't really like the taste of pork and chicken since I was a kid (only really liked seafood and beef), I carried this view (at the time) that vegetarianism is inherently unhealthy and there's just no incentive for anyone to subject themselves to such needless suffering to their health. I really liked my veggies, but there was just no way for me to turn away from fish and chips, oysters, a hamburger or a oozing-with-blood steak (yeah, my steaks just *had* to bleed when cut or its Just Not Right). Its like giving up sleeping on pillows and using a piece of rock instead. Sure you could do it to build character, but why bother really?

The chapter on vegetarianism gave an example that if you had a sack of soy beans, you could feed it to a person for a really long time. But if you feed this same amount of food (the soy, not the human) to a cow, a lot of the energy from the food would be "wasted" from maintaining the many biological functions of the cow going (e.g., keeping the heart beating, moving around, keeping warm). The resulting amount of meat grown by the cow would therefore have less energy than just consuming the soy beans. Its a matter of physics and biology that even a high school student can hope to understand. Since energy can only be converted from one medium to another but never created, unless the cow runs on solar energy, there's definitely going to be energy loss.

This appealed to the logical side of me, and for the first time, this economical and ecological standpoint on vegetarianism made me think that vegetarianism may make sense after all. And this planted a seed of thought in my mind.

Fast forward to 2006, and i'm back in Singapore from my studies overseas, leaving my previous job and starting my own company a few months ago at the time. One evening, I was out dining with my then-girlfriend at this steak restaurant in Tampines. I remembered ordering some combo-meal with a steak, lamb, some chicken and whatnot. The food was horrible, with an overdone, non-bleeding steak - my pet peeve. For some reason (maybe indigestion?), when I was heading back, sitting down at the MRT platform seats waiting for the train, I was suddenly struck with the thought that I should be vegetarian. I wasn't really thinking actively about it or anything, it just came into my head out of the blue. I turned towards my then-girlfriend and declared that starting from tomorrow, i'm going to be vegetarian.

So that's it. I made the decision to be vegetarian in about 3 seconds while waiting for a train, no long prior deliberation or anything. ;-) I told her that i'll probably last perhaps 2, at most 3 weeks as a vegetarian. I foresaw that there'll be One Day When I'll Have A Huge Craving For Meat kicking me where the sun doesn't shine, and i'll go crawling back to the nearest restaurant for some steak, burgers, oysters and fish (all during the same meal).

I've been waiting for that day for almost 2 years now. :-)

I've just somehow never been struck with The Craving so far, so I guess that little seedling of thought has grown to a tree. And as time passed, I just find more and more reasons to be vegetarian and as our fellow member Pauline has mentioned before during a meetup, "why NOT be a vegetarian"? That's the exact thought I have these days and whenever I get asked why i'm a vegetarian, I can come up with all sorts of reasons, but hardly any argument for not being one unless its a matter of survival.

Off-topic section follows. You may stop reading now. :-)
And all this influenced my "policy" on why i'm not more "forceful" towards anyone attending any of the meetups regarding vegetarianism and never try to actively preach "the cause" or try to convert anyone towards adopting a vegetarian diet actively. I generally don't raise topics of discussion regarding vegetarianism at the meetups unless there's already a discussion on the topic, or i'm asked a question regarding it.

I'm convinced that if instead of me serendipitously finding a book in a Chinese temple 10 years ago, someone told me all the virtues of being a vegetarian and the evils of eating meat or whatever (worse, without me even asking), i'll be forever spurned from the idea of being vegetarian. There would be no seed of thought in my mind, and in fact, any existing seed would be crushed.

I'm definitely unoriginal here in this approach though. There was this section in the same book that I found in the temple regarding why Buddhists don't generally "evangelise" their religion. Its a concept called "spreading the light". The book describes that the fundamental goal of Buddhism is to create happiness for the person practising it while in this lifetime. If a person is genuinely happy, there'll be this "aura" of happiness and "light" that cannot be fully described, that invokes curiosity in the people around them. People around you might ask why you're so happy all the time, and it is then that you can talk a little bit more about the reasons why. And this is how the light would be spread.

And I guess that influences the general approach I have towards promoting vegetarianism. Live healthily and responsibly, and let it be known when the situation arises that you are a vegetarian. Some people will naturally be curious about why you're vegetarian and it is then that you can share the reasons why. A seed of thought would be planted that perhaps its not really that wacky to be a vegetarian after all, the vegetarian I was hanging out with seemed pretty normal and seemed perfectly healthy! And perhaps one day, that seed would grow into a tree too.

This partly contributes to my opinion too on why I don't consume artificial supplements like dietary pills. At least for now, I have the view that it sort of defeats the purpose of being a good example of being able to live healthily as a vegetarian if I have to consume pills like a person who is sick (no offense to anyone who is doing so!). Although this prevents me from being a healthy vegan (as vitamin B12 does not occur in plant foods), I am perfectly able to accept this for now.

BTW, I've never managed to find that book again after reading it in the temple.
A former member
Post #: 1
G'day all,

I am not sure this is the right way to add messages to this thread - I just simply clicked on Add Reply at the top.

Well, I am semi-vegetarian and far from bona-fide one, to be honest. For purely health reason, I tend to stick to veges - this is how Australians call it - rather than meat. I read a short snippet of how to live long and this Japanese guy who is well over 100 years old cited some pointers for that;

1. No alcohol.
2. Be active.
3. Be social.

Hum, interresant! I always think meat is enriched with iron and other minerals, far more than veges. Alas, if one is a pill-popper to supplement these essentials, it may not matter as much. I am not one of them, so my natural reaction is eat meat sparingly :)

I shall put my pen down now.

A former member
Post #: 1
Mine was all due to a little movie called "Earthling"
I was in Singapore for a work project last year ( i've just recently returned to Singapore) and my friend had returned from Bali where he went for a meeting.
While he was there he had watched this movie - Earthlings... and he kept of telling about this movie and why I should watch it...

Of course when someone tells you to do something - you dont :) but a few months later i decided that i did want to watch this movie.... so I logged on to google video and watched it... I then read some of Don tolmans stuff and cause I feel like I can say it here.. the thought of meat rotting in my body pretty much killed the concept... I've had the occasional craving but i've been told hemp protein is great for fixing that
I was vegetarian from pretty much then on..... I occasionally still ate fish cause it didn't resonate to me about sea food..... until this same friend suggested i watch Sharkwater..... this time I took his advice and fish is back off the menu....
Its a little hard to make sure your getting it all right but I'm currently reading the Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier.. ive had some meals "cooke" from the book and they were delicious so here's to no meat, no meat by products and a more healthy life!
Joe G.
Singapore, SG
Post #: 55
An update on my post above.

I've turned vegan for the past 8 months or so, and yes, that means i'm a B12-pill popping one too. So why the change in perspective?

It boils down to all the reasons why i've stayed vegetarian, although the decision to switch was made impulsively. The ecological reason I stated in my first post is the main reason why i've turned vegetarian, but as i've read, watched and discussed more, i've found so many more reasons to live this way. Its just taking the lifestyle one step further.

Personally though, it's tough. Pill-popping issues aside, i'm a bona-fide cheese and lassi addict, and I have an emotional attachment to eating eggs. One of my passions, the board game go/weiqi/baduk (围棋), uses shell stones traditionally for the white stones, and they still are, by far, the most aesthetically pleasing. Its a daily struggle to keep all these impulses in check, and yes, there are times that I slip... but i'm quick to stand up and resume the journey. Being a lacto-ovo-vegetarian was really easy for me, being vegan was, and still is, hard. There is no point in being anal, but there is a point in trying your best to reduce harm, wherever and whenever you can.

So why did I turn vegan? 3 reasons.

1) As a personal act of rebellion against the meat/seafood/poultry/etc industries. Dairy and egg inflict cruelty upon the cows/sheep/chickens, and harm the environment, just as much as meat production, or even more.

2) Do my bit, and help inspire others to make a positive change to our environment. Earth will still be here even if global warming and other environmental problems continue, so its not about saving the planet. Its about saving ourselves. Its about making our environment more suitable for living by humans, and other "Earthlings" we share this big piece of rock with. Even if you don't believe in global warming, don't you want cleaner air to breathe? Turning vegetarian, or vegan, is the best way to make a positive change to our environment, forget about that switching-lights-off-for-an-hour-annuall­y nonsense. ;-)

As mentioned before, dairy and egg production, in terms of harm inflicted on the environment, is similar to meat production, so veganism is just the logical step forward.

3) My prejudices against pill-popping is outweighed by the benefits of turning vegan. From http://www.treeoflife...­ , "The personal physical, moral and spiritual reasons for succeeding at live food vegan diet, the shift in world consciousness and healing of the planetary ecology brings is a far greater gift than the ego gratification of holding on to a concept of naturalness.". For me, it wasn't a so much of ego gratification, but a matter of achieving my goal of inspiring others to make the switch. Eating supplements, carries with it the stigma that you are unhealthy. Like i've heard around me, "I'm perfectly healthy! I don't need supplements!". By taking supplements, its as if you're admitting that you're unhealthy, and even if its by choice, what kind of role model is that?

I see it now as a temporary measure until the problems we're facing gets resolved.
My views:
- Veganism is a modern concept, in reaction to the harm inflicted on the environment by the explosive growth in human population, desire for cheap meat, etc.
- Factoring farming, a modern concept,is a symptom of these causes, not the problem.
- Global warming caused directly by humans through factory farming and other practices? Also a relatively new phenomenon.

Taking dietary supplements in pill-form, is thus, a new phenomenon, to deal with these new problems. Just like you can't use a branch from a tree to repair your kitchen sink, we need new tools to deal with new problems. A necessary evil perhaps.
A digression and expansion on my first post. I failed to mention before that I almost became a vegetarian when I was 10. My family was watching this documentary (on Singapore TV, channel 8, Tuesday Report, or 星期二特写­) on how meat production works behind the scenes. We were so affected by it that we turned vegan for a week! After that week however, my mom resumed cooking meat for all of us. I remember thinking that I could have stayed vegetarian, but as a 10-year-old, I didn't have any power in making decisions on my diet. So I guess the first seed was planted when I was 10, although this one, failed to sprout. The lesson to take away from this though, I guess, is not to direct efforts towards advocating vegetarianism to children. Target the parents. Target people who are able to make decisions about their choice of diet, perhaps teenagers, and older?
A former member
Post #: 1
Hey Joe and everyone!

I was a Vegetarian for 3 months, a Vegan for 1.5 year and now back to a Vegetarian (2 months). The sad reason is I can't strike a good balance for being a Vegan. I have only included Yogurt in my diet. My parents asked me to drink milk because they said I am a female.

Please help. Without supplement if possible. I told myself Nov, a definite month for Vegan-going (for me)!

It started with health. I had a bad "hangover" with pork. Then, I saw a dog, my teacher for teaching me to be a Vegetarian. Lovely Meimei, you teach me that animals are sentient beings that we should respect and protect. If not, we shouldn't harm at all!

The first "animal product" I got off 3 years ago is shark fin. I "signed a secret internal petition" not to include shark fin in my diet. I didn't really eat too much of it before that.

I also don't eat seafood often esp. live seafood and beef. I was into mutton, chicken and pork...hmm... now it sends shiver down my spine. :P

Glad to see everyone here who shares common interest.

It's good to note Vegetarianism is also a good leap towards environmental issue. The "hit" is more "animals as sentient beings" in my case. It works well. I participate more in the 3 Rs and etc.

It is a good start to everything, a more compassionate living with mother earth, animals and human.

Thanks Buddha(s) and Bodhisattva(s) for first teaching me that and thanks for having good conditions to learn more.

Best wishes.
Gin Lee
A former member
Post #: 6

Hi all and dear Gin Lee,

I am amused about what you are saying about your parents. What theory is behind that or did they just confuse something? In any case. I would stop. Drink soy milk or don't drink milk at all. I read some medical guy's dietary book from a hundred years ago when I considered stricter vegetarianism about 5 years ago and it mentioned what is probably obvious but not clear to most of us: milk is for kids (of whatever animal if I got my biology right).

I think the reason we are used to drink milk (we the lactose tolerant people, I suppose) is purely industrial: cattle is more efficient for large-scale milk production than goat, which is, I believe, the only kind of milk that is easily digestible for the human stomach.

Maybe the best way to get through life and become wiser and more responsible is to drop a myth per day.

A former member
Post #: 1
DH & I started to be more "aware" about cutting out meat after watching this VCD. It's called “动物的呐喊­“. We saw how animals were brutally being killed/slaughtered for human consumption, though none of the footages were local(as in, in Singapore). After watching it, I asked DH if he were the chicken/duck/pig/cow/lamb, would he want to be killed for food?

Honestly, we never bring duck, cow or lamb meat into our house. But yes, during the early marriages years, we do takeaway & occassionally did include chicken or duck. We never fancy pork. More than 3 years, after we watched the VCD, we're even more determined not to bring meat into our house. When I cook, it's either green veggies, shrooms, beans, legumes, berries or nuts. For soup, the base is either carrots, corn on the cob, potato, yam, mushroom stalks or mock meat.

Recently, we brought home another set of cartoon DVD for DS. It's to teach the children not to kill animals for food. There are many stories in each DCD, a total of 5 DVDs. At the end of each story, there's a short description. There's one particular description that's deeply etched in my mind: There's NOTHING that we can find ONLY in meat & not in veggies & fruits. Eating meat is also NOT started by our ancestors centuries back.

DH finds that vegetarian food is more easily digested & healthier. Hence we're slowly converting. DS doesnt take meat & seafood, but fish. Probably when he's more grown up & sensible, will cut it out as well. I do know of many strict vegetarians who grow up strong, healthy & fit too!

I do have a few colleagues who're strict vegetarians & they're fleshier than me(that's the main point as I'm desperately trying to put on weight)!
user 9320230
Singapore, SG
Post #: 1
hi :)
i'm a vegetarian since secondary school. my mum started first & the whole family support this idea. feel very lucky tat we have become vegetarian together & my mum is a great cook :) so no worry abt having healthy nice veg meals. hee..
u r right; some vegetarians r fleshier. i also like to put on weight but no use however more i ate. ha..
user 9320230
Singapore, SG
Post #: 2
ya hor. the reason. actually didnt think much & follow my family..
however, life is precious to all living creatures. everyone has a family (humans/animals..); nobody would want to be food in the end.
A former member
Post #: 2
hi :)
i'm a vegetarian since secondary school. my mum started first & the whole family support this idea. feel very lucky tat we have become vegetarian together & my mum is a great cook :) so no worry abt having healthy nice veg meals. hee..
u r right; some vegetarians r fleshier. i also like to put on weight but no use however more i ate. ha..

Haha......that's why now I add in 2~3 more snacks in between meals but to no I just continue with the 5~6 meals & be happy!
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