Wait, Am I Vegetarian?

Photo credit: Me

It hit me today that I’m practically a vegetarian. No, I don’t identify myself as one. But my diet consists of so little meat that I’m starting to wonder what, exactly, do I categorize myself as?

Since our holiday ham, I can count only two times where I have ate meat. Both were breakfast related – eggs benedict and a piece of bacon (seriously, if it wasn’t for bacon I could probably be full on vegetarian). I don’t think I’ve consumed beef since last summer’s home-made burgers from organic, grass fed beef. And as for chicken, which used to be a household staple, escapes my memory completely.

I began ruminating on the subject (pun intended) when my mother in law commented “so, are we vegetarians now?” when I served yet another meat-less dish for dinner.

So, am I a vegetarian? The answer is simple, yet complex all at the same time (go figure, this is life, right?). No, I’m not vegetarian – I still eat meat, even if only on occasion. Instead, I like to identify myself as a “conscious omnivore”.

What does that mean, you ask? It means that while I admittedly eat meat, I only do so when I can purchase organic, pasture raised meat or wild caught game. This means grass fed, organic beef, CSA pastured pork and organic free range chickens and the very rare deer meat when offered by a friend or family member. The prices for these type of meats are generally substantially more than your freezer pack of mega-corporation raised chickens from Costco, but at least I know I’m not consuming a bunch of crap with my meat and am relatively comforted that the animals were treated with a least an ounce of humanity.

Is this a perfect solution? No, not really. In the end, I would like to raise my own meat – so that I can be 100% confident in the feed and care of the animal. Terms like “pasture” and “free range” have proven to hold little water when placed under scrutiny. These terms are often used loosely (i.e. since there’s a little door to a little tiny pen outside the giant chicken house, they are now “free range”). So unless I personally know the farmer I’m buying my meat from or raise it myself, there’s still no guarantee.

My dilemma with the idea of raising my own meat, however, is (and here’s the phrase again) simple, yet complex. The question I ask myself over and over again is if, when the situation presents itself, can I bring myself to kill an animal? If the answer is “yes” then I think I can say with a straight face that I am Ok with eating meat. If the answer is “no” though, then do I have the right to continue to eat meat?

This question, funny enough, has plagued me since I was quite young. I’ve always loved animals and abhorred people who were careless or simply abusive to their animals. Yet I eat meat and wear leather. So on what moral ground do I stand to criticize others?

For now, I hover in a gray area of moral standing, where I’m quite certain that CAFO’s are evil, but I’m not convinced that eating meat from properly cared for animals is wrong.


  1. aranislandgirl February 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Had to google CAFO. Just couldn’t get it. Ugh, I hate them!! Conscious omnivore, good one 🙂 Xx

  2. jobfarms February 4, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Wonderful blog post that addresses some very relevant questions! As the proprietor of a Pasture-Raised, TRULY free-range chicken farm, I really appreciate the time and effort you’ve put into educating yourself about the differences instead of simply writing off all meat as “bad”. It is only by being responsible for our own food choices that we take back any power and our own health from CAFO and government telling us what we should be eating!

  3. The Zero-Waste Chef February 4, 2015 at 4:00 pm

    Great post and I can relate! I do eat some meat, mostly because my picky-ish younger daughter likes it, so I eat a little bit when I make it for her (usually but not always). I try to buy pastured meat. Whole Foods used to sell pastured chicken, but doesn’t anymore. My store switched suppliers and now sells chicken with “enhanced outdoor access.” 🙁 I also get free pork fat from the butcher and render lard with it. They just throw the stuff away which I find a bit obscene. But I never buy pork unless it’s pastured, which is hard to find here. Talk about complex!

    I know the farm where I get my pastured eggs, and those chickens are very lucky to have wound up in such a happy place, so we’ve been eating lots of eggs lately. I think if you eat meat, ideally you should give the animal a good life and then kill it yourself. It seems the most honest way. My sister has goats and chickens and eats them very occasionally, usually if they had been suffering (her husband kills them). I think if I ever get my farm, I will have to become a vegetarian. How could I kill a goat or chicken? So many ethical dilemmas! Fortunately, I love Indian food…

    1. humblebeefarms February 5, 2015 at 10:48 am

      Indian food is awesome! One of my first cook books was “The Art of Vegetarian Indian Cooking”. Really, it was an eye opener! So many amazing flavors and new ways to work with milk (paneer cheese). I think in the end, I could kill a chicken (with a few tears of course). But I’m very hesitant on my ability to slaughter a pig or goat.

      1. The Zero-Waste Chef February 5, 2015 at 11:22 am

        Oh, I love paneer. When my daughter worked at a goat dairy, she made it from fresh goat milk she milked herself! I’ll have to make some. We haven’t had it for ages. Thanks for the reminder. I will look up that book too. Maybe I could kill a chicken. If I was hungry enough I could. A goat or pig would be really difficult.

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  5. Maryanne March 1, 2015 at 6:11 am

    Beautiful, honest post! I was a vegetarian for 28 years and started eating grass-fed beef and organic chicken last summer due to minor health reasons. (I’m now 100 percent healthy!)

    At first I wanted beef all the time, and now I only have it every other week. So I’m like you, eating pastured eggs for breakfast and just vegetables, sweet potatoes, avocados, etc. for the rest of the day. I call myself “paleo” now, but really do eat so little meat.

    However, since the mid-1990s I haven’t used make-up or products that test on animals and continue to do so. I am also a conscious social drinker as I won’t drink anything that was filtered through bone char. (For example, vegan vodka choices are Absolute and Skye).

    We all do the best we can in our efforts. I’m definitely “saving” this blog for future reference and inspiration.. THANK YOU! 🙂

    1. humblebeefarms March 2, 2015 at 8:03 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words. Sometimes you think your posts just echo into the darkness. I also put a lot of effort in sourcing ethical personal care products. But I had not even thought about alcohol. I’ll have to investigate some of my favorites and see what they use for filters. We are lucky that in the past decade there has been a growing number of vendors that offer organic, vegan, non-animal tested, etc. options. 10 years ago it just wasn’t so simple.

      Thanks again!

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