Cruelty-free Living on a Budget Part 1: Becoming Vegetarian

Dexter and I became “vegetarians” in May of 2008, shortly after my little sister made the decision to switch to a meatless diet. It’s in quotes because we’ve both eaten some meat since then. I like the term “flexitarian.” We didn’t buy meat, but we would eat meat at house church or if we were eating dinner at someone else’s house. People started being interested in our new habits, and after a while, our house church had a meatless option every week for dinner. Those people rock!

Before we made the switch to our meatless diet, we’d been reading and seeing a lot of stories about how animals are treated in the food industry. We decided to use our food purchases to cast our vote against the cruel treatment of animals. We decided to become vegetarians in sometime during the spring semester, but didn’t totally get into the swing of things until May. We were in school, and it was too much of a change to make while I was taking so many classes. We used up the meat in our freezer, and didn’t buy it again for a long time.

I honestly don’t remember what we ate at first. I stocked up on some “fake meat” products, but we weren’t crazy about them. I have a feeling there was a lot of pasta involved. It was a long time before I stopped cruising the Fareway ad for good deals on boneless, skinless chicken breast. I’m still always just a little disappointed when they’re on sale for really cheap and I don’t buy any. We grilled portobello burgers (which Dexter loved and I hated) and humus (which I loved but Dexter disliked and now likes), ate canned soup, frozen pizzas, and my interesting, ever-changing take on “Chinese food.” I think I counted on cheese for a lot of our protein.

Our grocery budget didn’t change much when we stopped buying meat. Any money we saved by buying beans instead of meat was probably spent on cheese, soy burgers…and probably extra boxes of Oreos. Since cooking is a hobby, I never have trouble using up my grocery budget. There’s always a new recipe to try or a new spice to taste.

We didn’t give up eating dairy or eggs, because those products don’t require animals to be killed to get them. I bought cage-free eggs every once in a while, but usually stuck to what was cheapest. I kept buying our the local brand milk that I grew up on. In the back of my mind, I knew that the cows and chickens that gave us our milk and eggs probably weren’t very happy, but I really didn’t know, and I continued in happy ignorance. I also knew that I didn’t agree with the animal testing that went on in some companies, but I didn’t know which companies were “good” and which were “bad,” so I kept doing what I was doing.

Since becoming vegetarians, we’ve learned a lot and changed a lot about what we buy. Dexter and I desire to be good stewards of God’s creation, and we feel that standing up for the rights of people and animals who cannot speak for themselves is a way we can do that. I hope to share with you, over the next few weeks, some of the things we’ve learned and how they have affected our daily lives.

Proverbs 31: 8-9
“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
       for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
       defend the rights of the poor and needy.”

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2 thoughts on “Cruelty-free Living on a Budget Part 1: Becoming Vegetarian

  1. Thanks for sharing! I’d go “vegetarian” in a heart beat if I thought I could get Jonathan on board. I think he’d do it some of the time, but not fully. We haven’t bought meat since moving to the new house (still working our way through some chicken I got on sale in Feb). However, we’ve discussed buying organic free range beef from New Pi. We figured it’ll be way more expensive, but it 1) tastes a thousand times better 2) comes from “happy” cows. I personally have a hard time eating something I wouldn’t kill myself (despite loving beef) so in the past when I went “vegetarian” I still ate fish (cause I did actually catch my own food).

  2. Such hard decisions…the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

    We very little meat at our house but still I haven’t gone organic or cruelty free either. (Mostly chicken or pork, I rarely buy beef.) We know that our milk comes from happy cows that I could go and touch if I wanted to. We get eggs frequently from chickens that I could go and see running around. There just becomes some point where the time and the grocery budget just don’t allow for everything that you should do!

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