Several times someone (upon learning that I care about nutrition and am trying to eat a healthy and natural diet), has been surprised to learn that I am not vegetarian. So today I thought I'd explain why that is.
It is not because I like meat and am just unwilling to give it up. That reason might apply for my Hubby, but not for me. I don't like beef much. I rarely eat pig products (even though I like pork) because they give me gas. I do like chicken, but I don't care for turkey or goose. Lamb is pretty strong and I'm not fond of it either. Ironically, given that I live on the coast of Alaska, I really don't like fish and I won't touch any other seafood.
We do not eat as much meat as the SAD ("Standard American Diet"). Rather than a chicken breast per person, I use 1 or 2 breasts (or thighs) cut up and mixed in with the pasta or rice or whatever. I cut steaks in half, and even roasts--I cut it in half before bringing it to the table, and one half goes straight into the fridge to be cut up for use in other meals such as stew or stroganoff. Sure, sometimes we have burgers or ribs or some other meat-centric meal, but they are the exception rather than the rule. I believe that meat is part of a healthy diet, but not the basis of it.
But yes we do eat meat, and will continue to do so.
From a geographic and environmental standpoint, we live in a cold climate with a short growing season. Fresh produce is not as readily available as in warmer places. The higher fat content of meats, including the omega 3s of fish, help support our systems through long cold winters with little sunlight. If we wanted to be vegetarians we would have to buy food that was almost all shipped great distances, and that is not sustainable (nor is it economical, nor is it as healthy as eating fresh local foods).
From a genetic standpoint, our ancesters were all northern european (mostly scandinavian), meaning that they adapted to live in a climate similar to the one we have here in Alaska. If their genetic makeup adapted to that regional diet (which included meat), then it seems that our genetic makeup would also thrive on that same diet.
From a physiological standpoint, our bodies are not constructed the same as vegetarian mammals--we have much shorter digestive tracts for one thing. They are not as short as the average carnivore either though, because we are omnivores. Yes, most of our teeth (the 'choppers' in front and the molars in back) are plant-eater teeth. However, we also have those four corner cainines--meat-eating teeth. Considering the ratio of meat teeth to plant teeth, I certainly believe that meat should be a small part of our diet...but I think the simple fact that we have meat teeth is a clear indication that meat does still have a place in the human diet.
From a religious standpoint, we have The Word of Wisdom, the dietary policy which makes us teetotalers and non-coffee drinkers, but also includes a long list of "dos" with all of the "do nots." It talks about eating foods in season, and using all foods with gratitude and thanksgiving. It also says that it is appropriate to use meat sparingly, but especially to use it in times of winter, or cold, or famine. Considering that I live in a cold place with a long winter, there is the final reason why I am not--and am not considering becoming--vegetarian.