Contrary to popular belief, Texas A&M University has a large vegetarian and vegan population. Each vegetarian and/or vegan has their own reasoning behind their decision, and not everyone’s decision is the same. Below are some excerpts from Aggies describing their decision to not eat meat and meat products.
I became a vegetarian because I lost my taste for most meats during my junior year in high school. After that, I decided that since I didn’t like the taste of most meats anymore, I would just go vegetarian. I tried it out and I like it a lot, so I kept doing it. I did still like some meat products like fish, but since I didn’t like most, I decided to just get rid of it entirely.
I went vegan for several reasons. Primarily for sustainable reasons. I began living more consciously about a year ago and started educating myself on sustainable living. When I learned about animal agriculture and what it took to produce the amount of meat we consume in the USA alone, that gave me enough to conviction to stop right then and there and stop eating meat/meat products.
The first thing that spiked my interest was the documentary “Cowspiracy” which really opened my eyes and made me look to other sources and studies and learn even more on the subject. I would not be a hypocrite any longer talking about sustainable living and recycling and trying to educate others when I couldn’t make the easiest and most effective change myself. So I decided to go vegan.
Next, I began to learn about the health benefits and ethical side of veganism. Once I made the decision I did the 30 day vegan challenge online to learn about the lifestyle as much as possible. Through that challenge and the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” “Fat Sick And Nearly Dead” and several other articles and blogs I learned about how much consumption of meat/meat products affects your health. This along with the change I felt in my body and energy levels once I transitioned helped me strive to be more active and take care of myself. And I was able to do all this while living more compassionately, and sustainably.
If there is anything I can say to people who are skeptical or critical of this lifestyle it’s not that you should stop eating meat/meat products completely or to point fingers on who’s right and wrong, it’s that you should educate your self about where your food comes from. What did that animal endure during its short life? In what conditions was it raised, what was it fed and how was it killed? How many resources went in to producing that 8 oz steak or lb of cheese and is that truly a sustainable way for the amount of people on the planet we have to live off of overtime?
I completely understand that animals are here for us to consume and predator/prey relationships are natural in the world. But I also believe that humans, in particular, Americans, have taken advantage and have strayed from the basics of that lifestyle. The rate and manner in which we produce and consume meat is neither sustainable, healthy or ethical. All I can say is that before you eat, think about what it is you’re eating, where it comes from, and what it took to produce. What will be left for our children and grandchildren? What will be our legacy? Animal agriculture is the leading cause of habitat destruction, species extinction, ocean dead zones, and water pollution and use.
I want our future generations to be able to enjoy the earth and all its wonders like I have and I know that this is truly the most sustainable way to live to try to achieve that.
Bianca Garza, junior biology student at Texas A&M University
I stopped eating meat because I realized that I couldn’t call myself an animal lover if I paid industries to kill and treat them inhumanely. It is just something that is so unnecessary when I know I can get all my necessary nutrients elsewhere. Also, the way we produce meat is ecologically unsustainable.
Yamile Garcia, senior landscape architecture student at Texas A&M University
I stopped eating meat because I thought it was unethical. I mean, I still think it is unethical, to a degree. I don’t know. I gave up. I’ve been eating meat for a year, now. Mainly because I’m poor and I’m lazy. I can’t afford to be a vegetarian like I used to. It’s too hard to think about a diet.
Walker Weinheimer ’15
My grandfather was a school bus driver and part-time cattle wrangler. He chased cattle around the old South Texas plains and raised poultry in the front porch. My grandfather loved animals, and even though he acknowledged their importance, he couldn’t muster up the courage to kill them for dinner.
When he would go out to feed the cattle each afternoon, my grandmother would kill and prepare the chickens he raised, because she knew he couldn’t be around to watch. He created meaningful connections with his animals and struggled at the thought of eating them.
I like to think things came full circle, with my grandpa Ropo. When I was a freshman in high school, I began showing heifers and steers at the Starr County fair. During my senior year of high school, I raised a black and white, American steer named Avelardo that I showed at the Rio Grande Valley Livestock Show and Rodeo.
I always heard that it wasn’t a good idea to name your animals, but I didn’t care.
Avelardo’s skin was sensitive. When I would scrub his hide during his daily bath, his skin would raise up if I pressed too hard. I had to be careful with Avelardo. He was delicate, despite him being a 1200 pound bull. He was well-behaved and, rarely, if ever, started fights with other cattle.
On auction day, I wasn’t allowed to keep him. It was mandatory to sell our animals. I was left with the thick ear-tag that once hung by his ear, identifying him as just another number. When my father handed me the tag, there were still black hairs stuck to it—my only memory of Avelardo.
If rubbing his side made his skin raise, I couldn’t imagine his skin after getting that ear-tag clamped on. I couldn’t image his skin while he was standing in the crowded trailer as he was leaving the fairgrounds, or once he actually reached the slaughterhouse.
And then, three years later, after two decades of eating meat, I stopped without telling anyone. Avelardo could feel all these things, just like I could, and the thought of that urged me to give up meat.
As an agricultural communications and journalism student in an agriculture-heavy department, I didn’t want people to associate me not eating meat with negative ideas. I avoided the topic and only brought it up when necessary. This resulted in a lot of awkward “Is it me, or did you give up meat?” or “Wait, are you a vegetarian, now?” questions thrown around the lunch table.
With my transition, came the typical “Why don’t you eat meat?” and the “Well, don’t you miss bacon?” questions. Then, came the harder, uncalled for statements like, “Meat production isn’t just what PETA shows you” or “You’re studying agriculture, yet you don’t eat meat.”
It’s been a fun ride, though. I’ve learned to be more aware of what I’m eating and where my food comes from.
My abuelo Ropo passed away before I was born, but I’ve always been told that I’m a lot like him. I guess, we both felt too emotionally attached to animals to eat them for dinner.
Angela Flores, senior agricultural communications and journalism student at Texas A&M University