The Vegetarian Experiment

Yeah yeah, I’m writing about food again. Sorry if you’re expecting commentary about life in Alberta or on making games, but this is what’s on my mind lately.

So in a recent post, I mentioned that I was fine with the moral implications of eating meat. However, I also pointed out that, according to vegetarian wisdom, you cannot truly make a decision about eating meat without first “freeing” yourself from it long enough to clear your judgment.

Fair enough, I say. I’m not convinced of the validity of this argument, but I’m willing to take it for a spin.

And so, starting in January, I’ll become vegetarian for 3 months.

If your immediate reaction to this is to think of arguments against vegetarianism… Please, there’s no need to try and dissuade me. Truth of the matter is, I’ve heard most of them, and I agree with a few. Like I explained in my previous post, I am perfectly fine with eating meat, so I am not doing this because I’ve somehow become convinced it’s the right thing to do.

Back in 2000, after watching The Insider and reading about the 60 Minutes findings that led to the real-life incidents the movie depicts, I made a similar experiment. I quit smoking, initially for 2 weeks, just to truly understand the extend of my addiction at the time. (See, I thought I could “quit anytime I wanted”, so I set out to prove it.) Five days later, having weaned myself cold turkey, I realized I could never go back to being a smoker.

And so, who knows? Maybe I’ll discover that vegetarianism is for me, and will resort to avoiding meat from now on.

Now, one doesn’t simply “become vegetarian”, I found out. There are numerous ramifications to walking down that path. For which branch of vegetarianism should I follow? Wikipedia lists more than 12 varieties of vegetarianism, ranging from the half-assed to the hardcore. Which one is the one for me?

Let’s say, for the sake of the argument, that I were to turn permanently vegetarian today. My reasons for doing so would be:

  • Moral opposition to directly harming animals for food
  • Moral and ecological opposition to the suffering animals go through when producing animal byproducts (eggs, milk, cheese) in industrial conditions

In other words, I would be opposed to any meat, but willing to accept eggs, milk and cheese if they were produced on a small-scale farms treating animals humanely. For the record, treatment of a chicken in an industrial egg farm is pretty atrocious, but you could argue that a small-scale farm producing eggs can do so in a way that leaves the hen living a pretty content life.

Interestingly enough, my own definition does not correspond to one of the many flavors of vegetarianism. My willing distinction between small-scale agriculture and agro-industrial seems to mark a divide that doesn’t exist in a formalized enough way to make it to Wikipedia.

And so, let me christen my own little brand of vegetarianism “ecovegetarianism”. Pompous word, I know. Here are the tenets of ecovegetarianism:

For the record, I’m currently lacto-ovo vegetarian with agro-industrial products, and non-vegetarian with small-scale, local farms.

Any advice or comments on this? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

About Daniel Roy

Daniel is a writer, backpack foodie, slow traveler, and endurance runner. He is the author of the upcoming book, "The Way of Slow Travel: A Hands-On Guide to the Best Travel of Your Life."


  1. You definitely should try hunting, especially big game hunting! If you manage to get a bull moose, you’d have ultra-bio meat for ages!
    Alternatively, if you’re unlucky as I was this year, you could then revert to tofu.

  2. Haha, yeah, I was sorry to hear you didn’t catch anything… To tell you frankly, I want to pick up hunting next year, at least to catch something once. That’s Step Two of the plan!

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