My wife and I have been (sort of) vegetarian for twenty years now. I say “sort of” because we do eat fish regularly, and we’re not obsessive about avoiding foods that might have animal stock in them. More simply, we avoid eating meat. However I often find it hard to explain this to people, partly because it doesn’t seem to fit with anyone’s standard notion of vegetarianism. Reaction tend to fall somewhere between being weirded out by the idea of a diet that’s not based on meat to a detailed quizzing of how I decide which creatures I’m willing to eat. The trouble is, our decision to avoid meat isn’t based on a concern for animals at all.
The reason we went meat-free many years ago was threefold: it’s cheaper, healthier and better for the planet. Once we’d done it, we also found ourselves eating a more varied and flavourful diet, but that was really just a nice side-effect.
The “better for the planet” part was based on several years of reading about issues in global equity and food production, which I have found hard to explain to people in a succinct way. In other words, yes, it would require me to be boring for an entire evening’s dinner party, which I would prefer not to do.
Now I can explain it much more succinctly, with just one graph (h/t to Neil for this):