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Vegetarian and My Lifestyle

CIS 110
Project1: Exploring Culture Essay (Final draft)
Nana Takahashi
912050927
November 6, 2014

For majority of people in the world, it must be really hard to imagine that they
spend their life without eating meats, and I am one of them. Because we cannot imagine
it, they tend to have bias or stereotype toward vegetarianism, who do not consume any
meats. According to Vegetarian Times, a webpage which has provided information to
vegetarianism about them for over 30 years, 3.2 percent of U.S. adults, or 7.3 million
people, follow a vegetarian-based diet. (Vegetarian Times, 2008). If we only see the
portion of the population, it seems really small part of the society, however, in reality,
there have been some vegetarians around me so far. Even though there have been many
opportunities, I have never tried to know about how they live because of stereotype or
misunderstanding about them. Therefore, by seeing them in terms of variety and
difference of vegetarianism, custom, and interesting facts, this paper will deepen our
understanding about how they are different from my lifestyle.
At first, variety of reasons for being a vegetarian makes me think about my
food habits in terms of ethics, lives and health. Even though society generally calls them
vegetarian, they are categorized into some types; vegan, ovo-lacto vegetarian,
lacto-vegetarian, and total-vegetarian (International Vegetarian Union (IVU), 2013).
Mainly, they are categorized depending on what they eat and what they dont, but
sometimes it contains habits toward animals. One of the biggest international

organization of vegetarianism, International Vegetarian Union, defines each of them


that vegan is those who
excludes any use of any animal products for any purpose, including animal
flesh (meat, poultry, fish and seafood), animal products (eggs, dairy, honey); the
wearing and use of animal products (leather, silk, wool, lanolin, gelatin); also
excludes animal use in entertainment, sport, research etc. (IVU, 2013)
Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian eats plant food plus eggs and milk products, (IVU, 2013).
Lacto-vegetarian eats plant foods and milk products. Common in India, (IVU, 2013)
and Total-Vegetarian is used to mean plant foods only, especially in North America.
(IVU, 2013). In this way, vegetarianism has some levels and they can choose what they
eat and what they dont based on reasons of being vegetarian.
Then what makes them choose vegetarian? The reasons for being it also has
variation and different one by one. One of the factor is belief of religions. Hinduism and
Jainism are the representative religions whose ideas make people choose vegetarianism
in India. Especially in Jainism, they consider that animals here are depicted
primarily as beings who feel pain, experience fear, and lack understanding of their
predicament. (Dalal, 2014). This means that they recognize animals as same level as
human beings who feel fear and pain. If we think them in this way, we can understand

why they do not consume meats. Same as Jainism, Hindu also has similar idea toward
animal and they treat animals as sacred things. According to Dwivedi, all living
beings have souls, and God resides as their inner soul. (Kemmerer, 2012) In this way,
Hindu considers that God is in all animals souls, which connects to the idea that they
should not kill and eat any animals body. If we compare Hindu and Jainism, the ideas
which makes them prevent eating meats are a little bit different each other. The
Jainisms way of thinking is rather caring about animal, and that of Hindu is related to
their God, both are the major reasons for being vegetarian because of religions.
What I should learn from the ideas of Jainism in terms of animal is that they
do not consider other animals as lower level. As mentioned above, they considered
animals as those who have feelings and fear. For most of the people who grew up in
developed societies, including me, this idea should be felt really new. Of course, human
is no more than one of the creatures which exists on the earth, and any lives in this
planet is precious. However, I have never looked back what I eat. I have thought that
eating meats, eating other animals lives, is just one of the ways to survive for humans
just as lions eat small animals to survive. What we really should learn from their idea is
that their thought treating animal lives precious things. Even though we eat meats
every day, we should appreciate that we can eat the meat by sacrificing other precious

lives. Recently, there are many farms which keep livestock as productions in the world.
Almost all of them treat their livestock as things. However, we should realize again that
we can eat their bodies and lives by killing and sacrificing important lives. Even though
any lives need other lives to live and human is not an exception, we should appreciate
that we can eat other animals bodies as Jainism considers animal precious things. On
the other hand, Hindus idea is totally opposite from my idea. I personally dont believe
in any god. Therefore, the way Hindu thinks about animal that god is in their souls is
really difficult for me to believe so. However, I felt the idea is good because this is
connected with peoples behavior which treats animals better. In this way, religious
factor made me look back about what I eat every day.
Another reason for choosing vegetarian is health issue. Since I came to the
United States, I really feel that it is difficult to eat vegetables in order to maintain their
health. In general, it is known that eating vegetable is good for keeping humans body
healthy. This understanding is one of the factors which makes people choose vegetarian.
According to Reed Mangels, a writer for Vegetarian Journal, those who said that
their primary motivation for following a vegetarian diet was for health or weight loss
were categorized as health vegetarians. (Mangels, p.26) He also mentioned that people
who chose to be vegetarian because of feeling for animals are categorized as ethical

vegetarians. Before I learned about vegetarian, I had a stereotype that all of vegetarian
choose their food habits because of the ethical reason. However, since I came to the US, I
could know that its really hard to keep my health good with foods that I can easily get
around school. Therefore, after I came to the US, I could understand the reason for
being health vegetarian and why US has more vegetarian compare to Japan, where I
grew up. As a participants of the interview, Inhae Hwang, told me, many of health
vegetarian is not that strict about what they eat because they only care about their
health. Compare to ethical vegetarians who does not eat soup which is taken by
animals, most of the health vegetarian seems to allow themselves to eat those kind of
products which are made from meats or animals. In this way, caring about their health,
and appearance can be also another reason for being a vegetarian today.
However, about the health vegetarian, what I care about the most is their
nutritional problem. Since my mother is who really cares about her and my familys
health, I grew up with a lot of her knowledge and information about health and healthy
foods since when I was a child. Of course, every meal that she cook is mainly consisted
with vegetables, but she also always taught me to get protein and other nutrition which
I can get only by eating meats. Especially, protein is really important to grow out body
and every human being needs to get it. Some health vegetarian might say that they can

get protein by eating beans, but I believe it is not enough. In terms of eating a lot of
vegetables, I can also insist that it is really good for our health. My family who has been
living with my mothers meals is really healthy and we dont have to care about obesity
and we dont have to go on a diet. When I was in Japan, I have never lived alone, so my
mother always cook what I eat. After I came to the US, I have to cook or choose what I
eat, and I really feel my health condition turned to be bad compare to that when I was in
Japan and ate my mothers cooking. Even though my mother taught me so many
information about what I should eat before I left Japan, I believe my mothers cooking is
best for me. In terms of knowledge about nutrition, Im really appreciate it that my
mother gave me those important things to live. Therefore, although I respect what
health vegetarian think about their health, I want to live with my style that my mother
has taught me since when I was a child.
The final major motivation is animal rights or a feeling for animals. As I
expected, vegetarians because of this motivation occupy a large part of total vegetarian.
Vegetarian Journal says that About half of the study subjects, all of whom had been
vegan for at least 9 months, reported health beliefs as their main reason for being vegan.
Animal welfare concerns were the main motivation for 40% of subjects. (Magels, p.16)
One of the persons who I conducted interview, Woorim Hong, also mentioned that she

stopped eating chicken for the first time because his friend showed some pictures about
KFC. According to him, they are creating genetic modified chicken in order to produce
their chickens more efficiently. Those pictures are chickens which did not face and
feathers because they can omit their process to cut them off. She also showed them to
me but it was shocking and I cannot believe that KFC has used those kind of chickens
and that I have eaten the genetically modified chickens so far. Many vegans follow
vegetarian because of those reasons. Even though those pictures were really shocking
for me as well, I could understand the feeling of them. I dont think that genetic
modification is bad but the chickens that I saw in the pictures were not what they
should originally be. Those feeling that they felt a sense of discomfort also make them
go on vegetarian.
In terms of animal welfare, I can understand and agree a part of their
insistence. Today, we dont have much opportunities that we can know about what we
eat because most of foods are sold by others and the others also buy those products from
others. Im also one of them and I havent paid much attention on what we eat and how
those are made by other people. However, ethical vegetarian tried to know about the
truth of foods and they just followed how they felt about it. I sometimes cannot follow
what I decided even though I myself made the decision, so I respect their strong faith

that they never eat meats because of what they decided. However, about their ideas, I
feel that they should also think about it in different way. Most of the people living today
usually dont appreciate for eating animals life all the time they eat meals in the US,
but in Japan, we usually say thank you for those animals and every meals that we can
eat every time before we eat. I grew up in that culture and I believe that I could have
expressed my appreciation for animals life so even though I would keep eating meats, I
would like to continue this custom to express my appreciation to them.
As mentioned above, their idea towards what they eat is really different but
their life style is also different. On the internet, there are many cooking recipes or
information of ideas how they can enjoy their meals without meats. On Goggle,
18,200,000 results or searching could be found by searching vegetarian recipes, which
shows how popular those webpages are and how many people who use those webpages
there are only in countries which use English. If I mention other than their food habits,
some of them, especially those who chose vegan, also care about not only foods but also
what they choose for everyday life. Basically, they dont support animal experiment,
animal use for entertainment, and animal skin or hair use for fashion. In their ideas,
using animals for human beings purpose is wrong because its not the animals original
lifestyles. Many vegans think that they can make animals have better life by following

vegan, and I think its true. I have never count how many cows that I have ever eaten so
far but Im sure that I will be able to save some cows, chickens and pigs life if I follow
vegetarian from now on. Overall, what I felt by learning and searching about vegetarian
is that they have really strong will and idea about their lifestyle. As mentioned above, I
dont decide that much about my life style and live flexibly. Therefore I really respect
their decision about how they want to live, and I believe which is the part that I should
follow them.
In this way, vegetarian has many variation and each of them are conducting
vegetarian with different reasons and in different lifestyles. Basically, vegetarians are
categorized into 3 different types depending on what they can eat and what they cannot.
Also, the category is mainly decided because of their motivations for choosing it; religion,
health and ethics. The most famous religions which choose vegetarian are Jainism and
Hindu which are popular in India. Even though they are categorized as religious
motivation, it is almost same as ethical reasons; in those religions, they consider
animals as soul of gods or what feels pain or fear. Therefore, they believe that they
cannot kill animals for humans purpose. What I could learn from their idea is that I
should not take granted for eating other animals lives and I should appreciate about it.
People living today have few chance to appreciate for lives they eat, but their idea made

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me realize again that I could have lived because of some other animals sacrifice.
Another motivation is health and diet. They choose to be vegetarian in order to
maintain their health situation good, so they usually less strict than vegan who is
mainly choose to be vegetarian because of religious and ethical reasons. In terms of
health vegetarian, I agree to the point that vegetables help human be stay healthy. This
is what I can say based on my experience that my meal is mainly vegetables, and what
US society should learn from them. Finally, ethical reason and animal welfare is the one
of the biggest motivations for following vegetarian. Some of them also care about not
only what they eat but also how they live with animals; they also care about use of
animals for human purposes. What I could learn from them is that they have a really
kind heart, and they tried to know how their meals come from. Generally, I could learn
why they choose vegetarian deeply, which made me think about my eating habits and
realize that I should appreciate more about animals live that I eat every day.

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Bibliography
Dalal, N., & Taylor, C. (Eds.). (2014). Asian Perspectives on Animal Ethics: Rethinking
the Nonhuman. Florence. : Routledge.
International Vegetarian Union. (2013). Definitions. Retrieved November 4, 2014, from
http://www.worldvegfest.org/index.php/definitions.
Kemmerer, L. (2012). Animals and World Religions. New York: Oxford University
Press.
Mangels, R. (2013A). How do health and ethical vegetarians differ? Vegetarian Journal,
32, 26.
Mangels, R. (2013B). Survey of vegans in the U.S. Vegetarian Journal, 32, 16.
Vegetarian Times. (2008). Vegetarianism in America. Retrieved November 4, 2014,
from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/vegetarianism-in-america/.

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