Commentary: My daughter the vegetarian

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Many families have faced this, but it’s a new one for me -- my 13-year-old daughter recently decided she wants to eat vegetarian. What can I say? She’s 13 and easily influenced by her friends, the media and celebrity lifestyles.

She’s not a “vegan” anyway. She’ll eat eggs and dairy, and doesn’t object to her food coming into contact with meat during the cooking process, such as her veggie burger cooked on the same grill with my real burgers.  

We’re hoping it’s a passing phase. We're concerned with her nutrition, and talk with her about the role of meat in a healthy diet. Cooking a separate entree adds to the already challenging process of putting a balanced dinner on the table every evening. I’m also concerned over the expense.

I know that many nutritious veggies can be purchased at relatively low cost, including good protein sources such as various types of beans. I eat all those things too, along with my meat. But, like a lot of vegetarians, my daughter likes something “meat like” with her dinner. That brings us to the meat-substitute products that populate the frozen-foods section in your local supermarket. I’ve learned they come in all kinds of shapes, textures and flavor combinations to simulate a range of meat products.

This week, my wife requested I make a particular family favorite dish that includes Italian sausages. I was making the grocery stop, so she asked me to pick up the sausages along with other ingredients, and some “veggie sausages” for the girl. When I reached the meat counter, I was happy to see the store-brand Italian sausages, which are quite good, were on special – two 18-ounce packages for $5. I grabbed two – one for dinner and one for the freezer. Then I proceeded to the freezer section in pursuit of the meatless-wonder sausages. After some searching, I found them – Morning Star Farms Italian Sausage: “Classic veggie Italian sausage bursting with zesty spices.”

The nine-ounce package contains four sausages and cost $4.95. Ouch. I did some quick calculations. The real sausages, admittedly on sale, cost about $2.20 per pound. The veggie sausages cost four times as much, at $8.80 per pound. For $5 I took home 36 ounces of actual Italian sausages, while for the same price I received nine ounces of veggie sausage. Now I know that most sausages, Italian or otherwise, are not the healthiest meat selection. We cook them just occasionally. The veggie-sausage label boast 66 percent less fat than pork Italian sausages and 120 calories per serving. The ingredient list begins with “textured vegetable protein (wheat gluten, soy protein concentrate, water for hydration caramel color), water, corn oil and egg whites, followed by a long list of seasonings and other ingredients. (They would not fit in a vegan diet.)

I haven’t tried the veggie sausages yet, but I’m guessing they’ll taste OK and do a reasonable job of imitating the texture of a meat sausage. Nevertheless, they cost four times as much. Like I said, we’re hoping it’s a passing phase.

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Lebanon, PA  |  July, 12, 2011 at 07:16 AM

Instead of hoping it's a passing phase, why don't you support your daughter's choice to make a healthy and cruelty-free lifestyle change? Studies have shown that meat-free diets are typically healthier than the alternative, with a decreased risk of heart disease and certain cancers. And those meat substitutes are easy and inexpensive to make from scratch - just type in "vegetarian" followed by whatever meat she's craving in a Google search, and you'll find plenty of recipes she can make herself that will cost less than meat.

kansas  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:38 AM

Brandon - Why don't you butt-out of other people's lives, you ignorant sanctimonious twit? (how's that for for an unsolicited bit of advice?) Your suggestion that a 12 year old girl is wiser and better informed than her parent is typical "eliminationist" drivel, from the truly evil folks who target impressionable and pre-logical thinking grade-school children with biased, self-serving propaganda. (Mao/Stalin/Fascist much?) Studies Show, that studies show, anything the designer wishes them too. And if the designer can place a few meaningless abbreviations after their name, self-righteous true-believers like yourself will hoover them up like cruelty free manna dropped from heaven. Get a life of your own Vegan. And focus your proselytizing on your fellow weak-minded, urban, academics and hippies. Google that!

va  |  July, 12, 2011 at 08:14 AM

I completely agree with Brandon on this. Support your daughter! Not only is she saving roughly 90 animals a year by becoming a vegetarian, she's making the choice to become healthier and doing her part to save the planet at the same time! There are TONS of recipes at your fingertips! If this is what friends, media, and celebs are pressuring kids into these days then I say WAY TO GO!!!!

kansas  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Grow-up Trolls and find somewhere else to interfere with other peoples' families & spew your Vegan trash.

Maryland  |  July, 12, 2011 at 08:23 AM

Agreed. You should be proud of your daughter for considering the ethics of her diet and making a strong, informed choice. You may not agree with it, but think of the courage it takes for her to make this decision in such a pro-meat family. Incidentally, the American Institute for Cancer Research just released a report that found a "convincing link" between processed meats, such as sausage, and colorectal cancer. The group's advice was to complete eliminate processed meats from your diet. And this is not PETA or a vegan-driven organization. This is a cancer research foundation. If it were me, I would think it was worth a few extra bucks to shield my daughter from cancer.

kansas  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:42 AM

You disgusting piece of offal! You dare to imply that the man is risking giving his child cancer? Go back under your bridge you worthless waste of skin.

Vancouver  |  July, 12, 2011 at 08:57 AM

Your daughter is to be applauded for her choice to have conscious food. I know it's a difficult adjustment, but going from animal cruelty to animal compassion is a transition. The best thing you can do for your daughter is support her in her journey and hopefully someday you'll come around to seeing her side.

kansas  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Troll, troll, troll, troll! How many of you veg murdering, slaughterers of natures tender and innocent vegetable bounty are there? With nothing better to do than try to defame and denigrate people and businesses you don't know at all? I read this newsletter for business purposes, during the course of my daily work. What are you freaks doing here? Do you get paid to spread this mind-numbingly uniform, consistently biased and childish piffle? Y'all should consider not eating at all, that would completely eliminate your deep distress over harming your goddess gaia altogether - yes?

Baltimore, MD  |  July, 12, 2011 at 09:02 AM

As with all the other commenters, I agree. I have been vegan for several years and vegetarian before that. A vegan diet can certainly lend itself to a healthier lifestyle. And contrary to popular belief, instead of constricting my eating habits, mine have been greatly broadened. Since becoming vegan, I was 'forced' to expand my cooking and eating habits to include all of my essential vitamins and nutrients. This has been an extremely rewarding experience. There are endless recipes, blogs and cookbooks available on the web for vegetarians that are simply fantastic and an even more welcoming community (though largely not 'media' driven). Darrell makes a great point as well. Though some of the meat substitutes out there can be more expensive, looking into the long run, your daughter may very much be decreasing her risk of health problems later on in life such as cancer, heart disease, obesity, and cardiovascular disease, among others. I hope you don't take these comments as an attack, simply an encouraging opinion to be supportive and open-minded. Good luck.

New Brunswick, NJ  |  July, 12, 2011 at 09:07 AM

You are obviously raising a compassionate daughter with the ability to be an independent thinker. Two qualities that should be nurtured and supported!! Visit the Vegan Dad website for easy, kid friendly recipes. You can make veggie sausages from scratch for pennies of what it would cost to buy meat sausages. I hope you view this new adventure with an open mind because your daughter probably has a lot of great reasons for coming to this conclusion. Also, exposure to a few new meatless dishes will only do good for the collective health of your family! Good luck and please utilize the myriad resources that the internet has to offer. You can adapt ANY meat recipe to be meat free and they are just as yummy! I promise!

New Jersey  |  July, 12, 2011 at 09:21 AM

I'm sure that John and I could not be further apart in our viewpoints, but I want to commend him for supporting his daughter in what, I'm sure, is a difficult situation for him. While it is true that some veg-specific products, like the veggie sausages he mentioned, can be pricey, let's not forget why. The government heavily subsides the livestock industry. Without government welfare, those meat sausages would be far more expensive. Let's also not forget that the cost of food is not limited to what you pay at the register. Last I checked, cardiac bypass surgery costs about $40,000. Just because something is inexpensive, that does not make it good deal. If someone tries to sell you a dog turd on a plate for 10 cents, you aren't getting a good deal, are you?

Nicole Graziano    
Florence, MA  |  July, 12, 2011 at 10:35 AM

Great job on the part of your daughter for choosing a compassionate lifestyle. This decision will bring her peace and good health as well as impacting the environment in a positive manner. I hope that you will support her in her decision. There are many vegan meals that are cost effective, and vegetarian meats are certainly not a must at every meal. If your daughter is in need of support or some meal planning ideas, she is welcome to contact me at The website might also be a good resource.

Dennis The Omnivore    
Ontario Canada  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:24 AM

My goodness. Can anyone save us from this out pouring of Vegetarian righteousness? John I have endured your trial and rest assured she will come to her senses. We raise beef and eat beef and my daughter now understands and supports the responsible raising of livestock for human consumption. If you choose not to eat meat that is fine with me.......just stop the nonsense and lefty bafflegab. The last thing any kid needs in this world is to be influenced by "celebrities"!

Georgia  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:37 AM

I have been involved in animal agriculture most of my life. In doing so, I felt it important to consider the other side of the coin and attempted to live a mostly-vegetarian lifestyle (still drank milk and ate eggs) for 6 months while in college. While doing so, I struggled to maintain a constant energy level, did not perform well in school, and missed eating meat. Most of you commenting here have labeled the animal agriculture profession as cruel and inhumane, but I would say otherwise. The majority of producers in this country to a wonderful job of providing a safe, sustainable, and highly nutritious food product for the rest of the country and world. In fact, I would challenge many of you who are vegetarians, to add a small portion of meat to your diet on a daily basis (I am not encouraging a supersized hamburger or 72 oz steak) and see if you feel it helps you perform better on a daily basis. Meat is full of not only protein and energy, but also essential vitamins and minerals needed for our bodies to function. If you have ethical issues with modern agriculture, I would encourage you to schedule a visit with a local farmer, large animal veterinarian, or animal science group, and ask questions about the reason and science behind the current practices.

indiana  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:52 AM

Common sense - good to read and in such short supply these days..

Dr. Mauck    
Sullivan, IL  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:41 AM

Boy, it's obvious this story was posted on some commie-veg website with all these comments! Eating meat is not cruel, folks. It's what we as omnivores are supposed to do. Are lions cruel for killing a zebra? Are wolves cruel for killing elk? Is a large-mouth bass cruel for eating a blue gill? Believe me, we treat our cattle far, far better than the coyotes I see running around with rabbits hanging out of their mouths. And, by the way Liz, how does one skinny little 12 year old not eating meat save 90 animals per year? That is a ridiculous statistic. Our whole family doesn't go through that many animals, chickens included.

Kansas City  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:44 AM

I must agree with Dennis on this. I am sure she is a bright girl and will come to her senses and she does deserve the support of her family in her life choices. As for the other coments left in response to this article. It is typical liberal, bleeding heart gobley gooke. I sure don't know these folks get their comments regarding huge governmental support of the livestock industry, especially compared to the price supports paid to corn and soy farmers whose products comprise the majority of the meatless substitutes. Nothing against crop farmers but when you write a comment be sure you know the true facts. And tot he person that wrote the comment about his daughters decision will save the life of 90 animals per year. Where the heck is the math that supports that? It's insane.

ca  |  July, 13, 2011 at 11:51 AM

First, realize that most farms are not family owned. Corn is sold way below market price, with the government picking up the tab. This corn is fed to cattle. If the government help left, a big mac would go from 2 bucks to over 20 bucks each. That is how much the industry is subsidized.

family farmer    
indiana  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:51 AM

Since when do children get to set the family table... it is indicative of the way we cater to the next generation. Growing up, i ate what was served or made my own, thats true in my household too...The "me" generation, gets that way because they are taught life revolves around them. Bet you buy her the cellphone and jeans she wants too...

California  |  July, 14, 2011 at 10:27 PM

Spoiling a child is completely different from supporting a child. This isn't a case of, "Daddy, can I get a pony?" It's a case of her moral maturity coming into play and her questioning traditions, which is a very important part of a child's development.

Fort Lauderdale  |  July, 12, 2011 at 12:31 PM

I was a couple of years younger than her when I chose to become a vegeterian, and my parents also thought it was a "phase". Now I am a happy and healthy 25 year old vegan, and I am raising my daughter vegan as well. You should commend your daughter for making such a healthy, mature and compassionate choice, and possibly consider making the change yourself, as well.

bellevue, Wa  |  July, 12, 2011 at 12:37 PM

You and I as cattlemen should welcome another vegeterian into the herd. Let nature take it's course.

Ohio  |  July, 12, 2011 at 12:43 PM

If all you vegetarians want to make any points, especially talking to beef producers, you need to get your facts straight. Liz - not eating meat might save 1/4 of a beef a year - no where near 90 animals. Not even 90 chickens. Darius - there are no direct government subsidies to livestock. Some argue past subsidies to corn kept the price of feed down, but that would be a hard argument to make with prices where they have been the past few years - besides all those subsidies directly apply to vegetarian diets. As for more healthy - read the studies. The meat studies that do show something are population studies that might show a trend (not statistically significant) but never cause and effect studies. Meanwhile studies with vegan diets show real health problems. As for cruel - get off it. Watch wolves kill and eat a buffalo alive sometime. I can not think of a less cruel situation than beef production. Go visit a feed yard rather than pass on info you have not checked out. Finally as part of the animal kingdom - something must die for me to live. I find it hard to accept that those who have problems with killing food only have problems with killing animals. Killing plants does not bother them, but it still is death. If fact life was designed that way. John - if you daughter wants to be a vegetarian - well just make sure it is for honest reasons.

Michigan  |  July, 12, 2011 at 12:57 PM

You know I was wondering the other night why there are more commercials on television that try to pull at our heart strings to support the humane society and compare these pets with starving children around the world. They tie up the same air space that could help feed thousands of children and keep them from starving to death but you can get a picture of the dog or cat you "saved" by just donating on a monthly basis. THIS IS A SURE SIGN OF A SICK SOCIETY WHEN WE EQUALLY VALUE (OR DISVALUE) HUMAN LIFE TO THE CREATIONS THAT WERE PLACED UNDER OUR RESPONSIBILITY. I am an agricultural and livestock producer and will spend hours of blood sweat and tears, not to mention dollars, to care for the animals placed in my care as they then provide for my family. I believe if only people who know how to truly take care of animals had them then there would not be vary many that need rescuing. The sad truth is that the Vegan lifestyle has turned into Social manipulation and has nothing to do with reality nor scientific fact because it is based on a False Theory that there is no difference between Man and animals. These same falsehoods lead us to "assisting" the elderly or handicapped to kill themselves or kill children that have no say in the manner. It boils down to we(Humans) are extremely selfish in our nature and only listen to what tickles our ears or makes us feel self-righteous.

MN  |  July, 12, 2011 at 01:36 PM

I'd like to point out that nowhere has John indicated why his daughter has taken up vegetarianism, so it is presumptuous to assume it is for ethical (or any other) reasons. It is also wrong to criticize him for not supporting his daughter's choice. If making special shopping trips, paying four times more for her food, and cooking two meals to accommodate her isn't support I don't know what is. I hope she outgrows it too John, not because I have anything against vegetarians (some of my best friends are) but because of what she is doing to your wallet and your meal planning. Ouch is right. You are a better man than me.

Mary Johnson    
Texas  |  July, 12, 2011 at 02:48 PM

At 13, the parents should still have control of their child. So, that being said. The daughter should eat what was prepared for the rest of the family. If she did not like that - go hungry or let her learn to prepare something from what it already in the family cupboard for herself if she wants to eat differently. It is sad that parents have no control over their children anymore and cater to them no matter what. I am sure when that child becomes an adult she will want her children to do as she says and does.

Concord, CA  |  July, 12, 2011 at 03:12 PM

People are supposed to eat meat? Seems to me that my teeth and jaw function better grinding grains rather than ripping flesh off of a bone. I've never ran up to a cow to try to tear into it with my bear teeth, but I'm sure that it wouldn't work. I've been vegan for two years and have had a complete change in attitude towards nutrition. I was 240lbs eating the typical American diet, without eating fast food or a lot of processed junk, exercised fairly regularly and the most meats I eat were deer/elk as I was a hunter. In less than a year I lost 75lbs, gained tons of energy and have learn to prepare many healthy nutritious meals at home at a fraction of the cost of eating meat. I would suggest investigating how to prepare meals that don't use substitute meat products, but rather are naturally vegetarian. Mediterranean, Mexican, Indian, Moroccan, etc ethnic foods have many different vegan/vegetarian options. Also check out the many different types of grains, pastas, potatoes, vegetables, etc that you might not normally eat. The whole family can participate that way. I love quinoa, wild rice, barley, pastas , couscous, beans, lentils, potatoes, and the many fresh vegetables. There are so many options out there, it just takes some time to get used to shopping in the bulk section. I would defiantly try shopping at a health food store rather than a big box store as they often have more varieties of grains that are not processed or bleached. Eating whole grains is better as it has more of the nutrients that processing removes.

July, 12, 2011 at 05:07 PM

I truly hope you have more faith in your daughter, for her own self-empowerment, at least. You blame her choice on her weak will. But maybe she is the strongest person you know, and she has made the decision not to kill animals and promote cruelty. Imagine how difficult it is for her, to make that decision on her own, especially while living with parents who don't even bother asking her WHY she's abstaining from meat. Vegetarian food need not be expensive. Beans, lentils, peanut butter, tofu--these are all great sources of protein and are much, much cheaper than meat. Please trust your daughter, and try to let her teach you something. Congratulations on raising such a strong girl!

Oklahoma  |  July, 12, 2011 at 05:58 PM

So a year and a half ago we got a couple of piglets, which my then six year old daughter named Bacon and Pork Chop. We raised em on corn, acorns and grass. My daughter delighted in petting and feeding them. Then finally the day came when it was time to have them processed and we did. We were eating our first meal from the pigs, delicious BLTs, when I said, "Bacon was a pretty good pig huh?" Without a hitch she replied in a perfect deadpan, "Dad... Bacon IS a good pig." and went right back to eating her sandwich. Since then we've added a couple more freezers for beef, chicken and lamb. So we'll balance out your daughter's phase.

nebraska  |  July, 12, 2011 at 06:18 PM

I would be concerned if my young daughter made this decision. As a grass fed beef producer marketing directly to consumers for nearly five years, I have many customers who are former vegetarians. They are my best advocates. They have seen first hand the damage that was done to their bodies by poor diet. Soy should not be consumed unless it has been fermented. Tofu is not fermented nor is TVP. Soy is extrogenic and damaging to health. Information you can provide her is your best bet to change course. There is so much misinformation about animal fats being demonized. Unnatural, highly processed, vegetable fats loaded with free radicals should be avoided. The WAPF is a good source for unbiased information. Eating animals that lived a mature life, were healthy, and built healthy soil, while eating plants that conserve soil and clean water is good for the planet and your health. Vegetarians do not out-live meat eaters. In the history of mankind, there has never been a successful vegetarian population. Good luck John!

california  |  July, 12, 2011 at 06:34 PM

In the calculations of the prices of meat analogues vs. meat, you failed to include the costs to the environment, and personal health. the veggies sausages are a healthier choice. Also, why not eat vegetarian dinners along with your daughter. you don't have to waste time cooking 2 meals, just eat veggie with her. its better for you anyways.

Craftsbury, VT  |  July, 12, 2011 at 06:57 PM

I think you are doing the right thing by supporting your daughter's current diet. It is hard to come to terms with the reality of eating something that was once living. I am an omnivore, I've slaughtered and butchered, and believe it is a good skill to have, to be able to do it properly and with respect. I just don't understand why people, who stop eating meat because they can't come to terms with it, like to buy proteins that are shaped in traditional MEAT shapes, like burgers, sausages, hot dogs...

Wyo  |  July, 12, 2011 at 08:50 PM

You should both read......the Vegetarian Myth.......and understand the health compromises you are making.

Mary Johnson    
Tx  |  July, 12, 2011 at 09:06 PM

As a parent we try to do what we think is right and best for our children. I hope as an adult they will do the same for their children if they have any. For a family to cater to a young child just because they have decided to become a vegetarian (at 13) seems a little crazy to me. Again, I feel they should do as her family does in their home. There should be plenty of non-meat items in the home for her to fill up on. When she graduates from school and is out on her own then eat as she feels she needs to for herself. I disagree with the people who think meat eaters are responsible for the "cruelty" to animals that are processed for food! Where would we be if animals just reproduced over and over and there was no use for them. Grazing and feed is already hard to find for them now. Insects are food for larger insects and small rodents. Small rodents are food for larger animals and on and on. Is that cruel or just life! I grew up in Colorado on a farm / ranch. We produced and ate most of our own food just like most of our family and friends. I disagree that meat eaters live shorter lives. Most all of my maternal side lived to be 100 or almost 100 years of age. All of my paternal side lived to be late 80s to mid 90s. The same for my husbands family. We all enjoyed our meat, fish, eggs and chicken and most of it was fried. Guess that blows apart two scientific findings!!! I think anyone can find fault with about any type food or drink that we consume if we worked hard enough.

Wyoming  |  July, 12, 2011 at 09:25 PM

I can't help but think that if it were my daughter I would secretly hope it was a phase too. I do commend you for shopping and going out of your way to help foster her growing ideals of self-discovery and her flexing those "independence" muscles that our children so often do. My niece recently announced that she was making the change to being a vegetarian after seeing many of the scare tactics from certain groups that prowl the internet. I had to have a bit of a heart to heart with her. I had to remind her that her uncle and I not only raise beef, lamb, pork, and chicken, but we sell it retail to our community as all natural, hormone free, and free range. I asked her if she'd ever seen us treat our animals like that while they are in our care, to which she responded "of course not!" So I then asked her to not bash the livestock industry that is so near and dear to our own hearts. When she realized that I wasn't bashing her choice, she realized she had no right to bash mine. I think respect and education is the key. Not mind numbing facts that are slanted this way or that and rants and raves. I would love to have a vegan or vegetarian come spend a full life-cycle here with us on the ranch. Seeing a 10 minute video of our daily struggles doesn't do anyone any justice, and neither does the undercover ops that show the animal cruelty from the mindless. If you want to be vegan, vegitarian, carnivore or omnivore, that's you're right as a free American. I do however take a bit of offense to the statements that implied that the only way you can have compassion for animals is by not eating them. Hang in there John. The important thing, that I as a parent believed you expressed without putting it into words, is that you love your daughter no matter what!

Percy Pigeon    
Melbourne  |  July, 13, 2011 at 04:55 AM

Do you kill them all yourself Kacee to make sure they don't get treated 'like that', or do they go to the slaughterhouse?

WY  |  July, 12, 2011 at 09:54 PM

God wasn't to pleased with Cain when Cain offered up vegetables to God.I'm eating MEAT.

TX  |  July, 12, 2011 at 10:22 PM

Do any beef eating cattlemen, cattlewomen even read this stuff, or is this a veggie website. You daughter can buy her own veggie stuff with her own money instead of you buying it with money you make working for a livestock publication.

Jack Hudson Thomas    
Kansas City  |  July, 12, 2011 at 11:04 PM

I am a new vegan and have never had so much energy! I eat a lot of fruit and whole grains. Some vegetarians and vegans have horrible diets that rely on pasta and French fries (I call 'em "Junk Food Vegetarians"). These people spout cruelty-free this and that which can be really off-putting. I decided to go for this diet once I read The China Study (written by an ex-dairy farmer and Cornell scientist) and also educated myself on the serious environmental impacts of commercial farming. If you read The China Study with an open mind it may just save your life. I for one lost 45 lbs since changing my diet last January and have reversed my heart disease without costly drugs. My cardiologist was blown away by my cholesterol numbers. As an avid carnivore my whole life, I will say I occassionally miss meat, but these results are pretty incredible and keep me going strong. Numbers just don't lie. I'm living proof.

new york  |  July, 13, 2011 at 03:34 AM

You need to learn a thing or two about nutrition - your daughters choice is healthier than your own diet! visit or for all the info you/she require. As for costs, make your own alternatives from beans, nuts and legumes - far cheaper and usually healthier than the store-bought variety. And remember, the only reason meat is cheap is because of big industry buying out Washington to get subsidised grain and soy to feed their cattle - at huge environmental costs, and human rights costs (literally shipping food away froms tarving nations). your daughter is not "easily influenced" but incredibly smart... who knows where she got the genes from though??

California  |  July, 13, 2011 at 10:00 AM

When I was about your daughters age I decided the same thing. My father and mother, like you, hoped that it was just a phase. However, here I am today still vegan. If I had the support these other people are posting you give your daughter, I wouldn't feel crappy when I visit my parents. We're supposed to love our children unconditionally. If it is just a phase, at least you can still support her through all her decisions.

Gordon Kelley    
Portland, Oregon  |  July, 13, 2011 at 10:16 AM

The question for me isn't whether eating meat is justified *on principle*, it's about people supporting the awful reality of today's factory farms/CAFOs. If all meat eaters chose sustainably farmed meat, that would address 99% of the reasons I'm a vegan. But "sustainable meat" represents such a tiny fraction of the amount of animals grown for food that it's practically irrelevant in terms of the overall issues around meat consumption. I applaud those who choose to eat sustainable meat if you're going to eat meat, and encourage you to avoid supporting/buying/eating meat from large-scale "farming" that represents massive suffering (ie, almost all meat from the grocery store and restaurants). Again, I'm NOT arguing against eating meat on principle -- there's plenty of evidence for and against and the debate is unlikely to ever be settled. But the existence of intense life-long suffering prior to slaughter is a fact for billions of animals -- nearly all those grown for food -- and compassionate people should avoid contributing to it.

Florida  |  July, 13, 2011 at 11:43 AM

If you are truly worried for her health, then you should be happy that she's chosen to eliminate meat from her diet. A balanced vegan diet would be even healthier. You should do some research and support her in her decision instead of hoping its a "passing phase." I've actually found that since becoming vegan I usually spend less at the grocery store. And can you really put a price on good health anyway? Im not preaching to those of you who eat meat. Its your decision to do so. Just as its hers not to.

Stan Thomas    
Salt Lake City, Utah USA  |  July, 14, 2011 at 02:39 AM

I would suggest you do some serious research on vegan/vegetarian diets. When my daughter became vegan I was really worried about her health. My wife and I started reading and studying vegan health. I wanted to be certain my daughter was getting all the nutrients she needed. Being a scientific researcher I spent most of my time reading scientists journals and professional sources. There is a lot of mis-information out there from all camps. In the end my wife and I ended up becoming vegan and it has vastly improved our health, especially hers. She lost 80 excess lbs and went from having great difficulty walking or getting out of a chair to sky diving for her 50th birthday. The bottom line is that if you care about your daughter (of course you do), you have a responsibility to learn as much as you can to ensure she gets all the nutrients she needs whether she is vegan, vegetarian, or eats meat.

Nebraska Sandhills  |  July, 14, 2011 at 10:42 AM

I am a cattle producer, am also a Veterinary Technician and have worked in feedlots and packing houses. So I think I can say I have seen most phases of the industry. I have never seen the widespread "cruelty" so many of you seem to think is there. Yes there are isolated cases of cruelty and that is what hits the media, but that is true also for cruelty to pets, children, spouses and against other people. As many of the producers on this website have stated-government does not subsidize the livestock industry. Yes, grain is subsidized, which is used for livestock feed--but is that same grain not used to feed you vegetarians?? So, actually, we could say that the vegetarian/vegan diet is Government-subsidized, correct?? As a comment to the several who have posted that on a vegetarian/vegan diet they have lost wieght, lowered their cholesterol, had tons more energy, etc.--that comes from losing the weight, not strictly the diet. I recently went from 242 to 165 ON A MEAT-BASED, BALANCED DIET and guess what? I lowered my cholesterol, had tons more energy and was healthier overall.

Jack Hudson Thomas    
July, 14, 2011 at 02:53 PM

You can calorie restrict and still lose weight on an meat based diet, sure. I wasn't interested in calorie restriction. I eat as much as I want. Congrats on your weight loss. I bet you could see even further improvements if you tried a plant-based diet for 30 days. Seriously, check out the China Study. I'm so glad I kept my mind open and did just that.

manhattan, ks.  |  July, 18, 2011 at 04:04 PM

I fail to understand all these vegan/vegetarian arguments against eating meat. How is killing a plant not as "morally wrong" as killing an animal for food? Both are lifeforms that response to stimuli and their environment. I haven't found a diet yet that doesn't require one lifeform to die for another to live, that doesn't sound compassionate or cruelty-free to me even if youre only eating plants. I support the freedom for people to make their own dietary choices but bashing people for eating meat because you may be mis-informed or morally disagree is just wrong. I get tired of hearing vegans/vegetarians say they have so much energy and are healthier when they quit eating meat. As with any diet moderation and balance is key. Just because I eat meat doesn't make me unhealthly. I eaten meat my entire life and I have aced every physical I have ever taken. Please rescept each others differences and leave it at that, just because you think its right doesn't mean it is (that goes for vegans/vegetarians and onmivores)!

Colorado  |  July, 18, 2011 at 05:47 PM

Such a lively debate - a lot of good comments (and some incredibly idiotic ones by people who need to find their inner peace apparently). I transitioned to a mostly plant-based diet over two years ago and at first, I ate a lot of processed meats as well. Eventually, I learned to cook foods for myself that satisfied my "meat" cravings using whole grains, vegetables and beans. I chose a vegan diet primarily for health reasons. I just don't like reading those long laundry list of ingredients on the meatless packages and know it's better for me to make my own. As for dairy or meat - although I don't choose that path, I know several who do. For people who feel they need to eat meat as part of their diet, I advocate that people make sure they know where their meat came from and that it's "good" meat. My sister and mom purchased a cow together last year and they know exactly how it was raised and what it was fed. They also experiment more now with plant-based meals and have been very open to trying new foods that I have learned about. Even if you choose to eat meat, there are very few of us who can be accused of eating too many veggies. So even if you do eat beef, why not try a lentil stew or millet black bean burger for variety's sake? Are you FoodWired? Take the Pledge. Choose Good Food.

Yanqui Mike    
Argentina  |  July, 19, 2011 at 09:51 PM

Dad, you´re gonna have to put your foot down on "phony meat." You can explain to her that no self-respecting vegetarian would want their food to look or taste like the very thing they have sworn not to eat. That´ll keep your grocery bill low. This also sounds like a good time to teach her how to cook ...meat is easy, veggies take work. Sounds like she needs to learn to soak and cook her dried beans, wash and chop her salad ingredients, and figure out how much maccaroni she can eat every week ...before she gets bored out of her skull and comes back to the fold (most vegetarians do.) In the meantime, your grocery bill will get cheaper, Mom will get some help in the kitchen, and your daughter might become a hell of a good cook! Best of luck, Mike

Los Angeles  |  August, 01, 2011 at 10:15 PM

There are websites you can go to & learn ways to make sustitutes like soy, wheat & or lentil burgers, etc. at home. Tofu or mashed beans can be used to hold things together & she can season to her own personal tastes. Dried, crushed bread crumbs can be mixed in to give them some body it they are a bit mushy. They can also be pan fried until they are more 'set' & then put on the grill for the finishing touch & flavor. This could be a fun & educational project for your daughter to take an active part in her highly responsible & commendable newfound lifestyle. I don't know if you have any Trader Joe's nearby, but they have Tofurkey Sausage there in the cold (not frozen) case for less than what you quoted & they are healthier (no sugar). Morningstar (made by Kelloggs) is made with GMO sugar beet sugar (not healthy). But if that is not an issue they usually have Morningstar for less than the average supermarket prices. I commend you on being willing to allow her to make her own personal choices.

Los Angeles  |  August, 01, 2011 at 10:27 PM

When I saw some of the responses posted here my head told me NOT to go there but my heart wouldn't let me NOT reply. I have been a vegetarian for over 40 years. I felt immediate benefits physically as well as mentally & spiritually when I gave up eating meat. I have never looked back and recently went vegan & feel even better now !!! I tried to post some facts about meat but I guess my entry was too long because it wouldn't post. I will break the posts down into single paragraphs because I feel VERY strongly about the information I have to share.

Los Angeles  |  August, 01, 2011 at 10:36 PM

I try not to push my lifestyle on others but sometimes it's hard not to voice the obvious facts: The farming of animals for food is the single MOST damaging factor to our earth's environment. It is simply not sustainable in the long run & is destroying the ecological balance of the planet. The gases emitted by these animals causes more air pollution than all the vehicles (cars, trucks, planes, etc.) in the ENTIRE world COMBINED & eating one pound of meat emits the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving an SUV 40 miles. Sustainable ?

Los Angeles  |  August, 01, 2011 at 10:52 PM

The cutting down of forests to grow feed for meat animals is a SERIOUS mistake for the planet & our health. The trees are what clean, filter & refresh the air that we breathe. Intensive farming practices are depleting the soil & will eventually render it to be desert & virtually unusable. More than 260 MILLION acres of U.S. forests have been cleared to grow food for meat animals. So we just keep moving ever outward until there is no land left ? The equivalent of 7 football fields is cleared worldwide every MINUTE of EVERY day to create more room for meat animals. Sustainable ?

Los Angeles  |  August, 01, 2011 at 11:16 PM

All the wild animals & trees in the 2.9 MILLION acres of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil were destroyed in the 2004-2005 crop season to grow feed for meat animals on factory farms. And Brazillian farmers are illegally using AGENT ORANGE to clear the land. The same toxic, cancer-causing chemical that destroyed the lives & health of & killed our U.S. soldiers that served in Vietnam & also caused fetal deaths to Vietnamese babies that did not live to be born & horrible birth defects to babies that were born. Sustainable ?

Los Angeles  |  August, 02, 2011 at 01:06 AM

The inhumane & dirty living conditions on factory farms cause the E. coli outbreaks in meat. When they trace the E. coli outbreaks in spinach, lettuce, peppers, etc. to a particular farm, they don't tell us that if traced farther, it would be shown that the produce farm was infected by the filthy runoff from nearby meat animal farms. Sustainable ?

Los Angeles  |  August, 02, 2011 at 01:53 AM

The EPA reports that the excrement from factory animal farms has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states & contaminated the groundwater in 17 states. 25 million gallons of putrid hog urine & feces spilled into a North Carolina river in 1995 & between 10 to 14 million fish died as a result. BOTTOM LINE : Making the transition to a vegan diet is the single most effective step an individual can make toward living sustainably on the planet. Vegan choices lessen your ecological footprint more than any other lifestyle change, help to eliminate hunger worldwide & make a powerful contribution toward the beginning of peace on earth. Not enough GOOD reasons here ? What more can I say ?

MT  |  August, 03, 2011 at 05:31 PM

Maybe you should say "sustainable" one more time. Geez...

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