Why We Don’t Eat Meat

Micah and I don’t eat meat. I figured I’d just talk about how that happened, why we still don’t eat meat until today, and some general thoughts on the matter.

This post talks about our experience and does not endorse or vilify any diet. We should all eat in a way that best suits us and respect the conscious decision everyone makes.

How did it happen?

Our favorite outside place to eat.

In 2018, Micah and I did our 200h Yoga teacher training in Rishikesh, India. What we didn’t know was that Rishikesh, as the self-declared birthplace of Yoga, is pretty much entirely devoid of meat. Not devoid of cows, mind (they were everywhere), but meat as a food item simply does not exist there.

At the start, this was pretty weird for us. Both of us were used to eat meat regularly, especially Micah. Anyone who knows about The Philippines will know how ingrained meat is in Filipino food culture. But there we were – no meat and barely any dairy products, which meant essentially vegan meals for a month.

When you see it.
(The black blob in the back is a cow. In the café. It just strolled in.)

Perhaps surprisingly though, neither of us missed meat at all. Maybe it was because of how tasty Indian food is, or because the city offered a large variety of non-meat food options and meals – probably it was a mix of both. But to make a long story short, we left India after a month and simply didn’t feel like eating meat anymore.

Why do we still not eat meat?

There really was no moral basis for us giving up meat. It just kind of happened as a result of the circumstances. But why, then, did we not get back into eating meat after leaving India, especially since we returned to The Philippines with its abundance of excellent meat dishes?

For Micah, it was that she developed an aversion to the consistency of meat. The texture and eating experience suddenly felt weird, which killed her appetite for meat forever. She also gets the runs from eating it. For me, it was a bit more complicated.

I used to have a rather pragmatic relationship with food. I need food to not die, so I will eat – that was about it. In the back of my mind, I always knew that there were serious arguments for cutting the meat out of my diet, both of the moral and the pragmatic kind (more on that later). Up until that point, I had left them there, probably to avoid the inconvenience of having to be consequential with them. Now, however, I saw an opening to just keep going without getting used to eating meat again and decided to take advantage of it.

To be fair, though, I had an advantage that most people do not have: Micah makes great food. Healthy, indulgent, sweet, really anything you could think of, Micah can make it. And, just like Indian food, she does not depend on meat to do an excellent job of it. So, I continued to not eat meat because coming out of Rishikesh I saw an opportunity to go through with it and because Micah’s cooking really made it easy to do.

Some thoughts on eating meat.

Roti, an all-time favorite. Looks simple, but it has layers.

Is eating meat a problem? You could think so, seeing how animals and the climate are being harmed in the process. But I still would not say that it is.

First, on the most obvious issue: To eat animals, we must kill them first. But why is that a problem? Organisms consume each other to survive – this is how all life works. Where do we draw the line between animal and plant, organisms that are ok to eat and those that are not, and how do we justify it?

We could say it’s the ability to be conscious, which is why eating meat is wrong and eating plants is right. But as we learn more about the world of plants, we also learn more about their consciousness and ability to communicate – so that argument doesn’t really fly, since we need to kill most plants to eat them, too. Not to mention that a division between “animals” and “plants” is pretty vague to begin with. For example, where do fish, insects, or mushrooms belong? Ultimately, any line we draw here will be arbitrary and thus not very helpful.

This is why I don’t see any inherent moral problem with eating meat. However, a serious moral problem does arise from how we treat animals before we kill them: The cruel experience that most animals go through before they are slaughtered. There is abundant evidence of animals not only vividly experiencing the suffering but also of them being aware of their imminent slaughter once the time comes.

Veggie noodles at our favorite shop in Bali.
Sourced 100% locally, including their meat in other dishes!

Second, the climate takes multiple hits due to our meat consumption. Destruction to make space for grazing and growing animal feed, water waste, methane produced by livestock, pollution from transportation and refrigeration, the list of problems is long.

Still, these problems don’t strictly arise from eating meat, but from the wider context of our meat consumption. Luckily, I think there is a simple solution: Eat locally.

Eating locally means that you know where your meat comes from and how it is produced. It also means that no extensive transportation and refrigeration is necessary to get the meat to you. Finally, local, decentralized meat production needs to rely less on the cruel practices associated with industrial livestock farming.

To add some perspective: Eating a chicken from the next farm over is certainly both a better moral and environmental choice than buying an organic avocado flown in from half a world away – or even than drinking milk produced in industrial farming lots, which also leads to its own share of cruelty even without directly killing an animal for it.

So, to summarize this post that already got way too long: Micah and I don’t eat meat because it just naturally happened that way, and we decided to go with it. We don’t think there is anything wrong with eating meat, but that there is a lot wrong with how we produce it. A simple thing everyone can do is to try and buy their meat, and indeed all their food, locally.

68 thoughts on “Why We Don’t Eat Meat

  1. I think it’s so great that you’ve talked about the moral and environmental factors without going after anyone who chooses to eat meat, educating and not attacking is definitely the way forward. My husband is a die-hard meat eater, I’m a reductarian. I will still eat chicken (in moderation), but beef and pork I definitely don’t enjoy. I have rescued battery hens in my time and I definitely do know about the conditions these birds are kept in. Mass farming is extremely cruel, hence I prefer a vegetarian diet where I can get away with it without an argument.

    In my very humble opinion, the only way forward, whatever we do, is conscious and ethical farming. Animals should have a right to land and a humane slaughter, if that is what we see fit to do. As for plants, we need to better understand and educate ourselves on their proper growing conditions. Planting large crops in a small space is no more cruel than the animals that are kept in barns and cages.

    Environmentally, one of my biggest frustrations is that we are still transporting food from halfway around the world. I order meal boxes, but one of their common ingredients is basa fillets. Why? Basa is not native to the UK. You cannot talk about zero waste packaging and zero food waste when your ingredients are being transported from across the globe, it’s hypocrisy at its finest.

    This is a great post and I loved your in-depth analysis and rational thinking, great work 🙂

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  2. Yeah in the Philippines meat is everywhere. Haha! I eat meat but not everyday. It’s like once a week. I prefer vegetables too.😉 I love pasta as well. Good to hear Micah cooks good food.😍

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  3. This is so interesting~ thanks for sharing Markus! Did you Guys notice any changes to your bodies from not eating meat? Like smoother skin, increased performance, better sleep, etc?

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    1. Honestly, I’m not sure. I have been sleeping much better for a while now, but I’m not sure how much my diet has to do with it. What I can say for certain, though, is that I didn’t experience any negative effects as a result of not eating meat.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I read this yesterday and adored it. What I particularly love is your wide-open not-shaming attitude about how we choose to eat. I loved eating vegetarian and vegan for many years, but developed a health problem almost three years ago where the doctor recommended eating meat again. Specifically, cutting back on most grains. Many of the health challenges were corrected by going back on a meat diet, but now am trying to slowly sneak in more vegetarian foods again. Trying to be more moderate. It’s working for now…we shall see. Thanks for posting this.

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  5. Great post!! we can certainly be kinder to nature in general ❤ Indian food is one of the tastiest cuisine i’ve ever tastes. And it’s weird that i was only able to try an “authentic” meal in San Francisco. But i never forgot about it. All the dishes here look so yummy! Great job Micah 👏 how to be you po 😂

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    1. Thank you, Princess. That is a long way for Indian food! At least you enjoyed it. We love it, too. Curries are the best and we are just crazy about anything flat bread. When I lived in Makati, there was one authentic place in Rada, but I think they moved somewhere. This is why I cook what we have eaten while traveling – the cravings are near but the destinations are far!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awkward super late reply as usual–but yes it’s funny i discovered it there. We seem to have a shortage of authentic indian food in Manila. It’s mostly Korean, especially in Makati. I still haven’t found a place i liked.

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        1. No worries. How was your Facebook event? I cannot remember it exactly, but I think the Indian restaurant I am talking about is Swagat? It used to be in Rada and moved. In Angeles City, Rasoy’s is a very good one.

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  6. Very well put, Markus. We are not vegetarian although I often chose a vegetarian option rather than a meat one, if its available. My sons and husband all eat meat, as does my dad. My mom, like me, eats a little. I always opt for local, organic meat and veg. We can afford to do this though, and many in my country cannot. It is a difficult conundrum.

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    1. Yes, affordability is a very important point. In fact, I pretty much ignored the entire economic side of things. Could more people supporting local producers lead to lower prices? Or would it just drive large-scale producers out of business and this way make meat unaffordable for many? Hard to say! But I do think it is important to think of alternatives, as the current state of meat production feels rather hard to bear.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you, Markus, 100%. I am just pointing out the economic reality because the poor tend to view survival as more vital than mistreatment of animals. This is evident by the mass slaughter of protected animals like rhinos and elephants in Africa.

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  7. I don’t eat meat either – and haven’t for nearly 20 years now (drag I sound old now 😂). So I agree with you when you say it’s possible to eat delicious food even without the meat.

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      1. Haha thanks. Not really. My decision to go vegetarian was partly for religious reasons (as a Buddhist). But I was also never particularly attached to meat or fish – so I didn’t miss anything. In fact now it doesn’t appeal to me at all.
        The only thing that does get tricky is to find ways to get enough protein in my diet. But I manage ☺️

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        1. I’m glad you mention that because we think about this sometimes as well. I guess tofu helps a lot with the protein. But another challenge is Omega 3 – do you have a tip on good plant-based sources of that?

          Liked by 1 person

          1. That’s true except I’m not a huge fan of tofu. So I get by with things like egg, cheese, pulses and soy based food.
            You’re right omega 3 is pretty tricky. I think kidney beans and walnuts are what help me there.

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  8. This was really interesting – we do eat meat in our family but I try to buy locally from farm shops where I can. My husband and daughter are both huge carnivores so I don’t think I’d have much luck converting them! 🙂

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  9. Thanks for your informative share. I gave up meat, dairy, and eggs last February. It has been easier than I imagined it would be and the health benefits have been worth it.

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    1. Glad the switch worked out so well! It is interesting how different people seem to respond differently to going vegetarian/vegan. Most people seem to react positively, but I have also heard of some who had to go back to eating meat because deficiencies started to show.

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      1. You can definitely get all of your vitamins and nutrients from eating a plant based diet. By eating this way, you are setting your body up for success. Most chronic diseases are usually caused from what we eat. By not eating meat and dairy you are preventing diabetes 2, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and most cancers. Thank you for sharing your story and rising the awareness of how amazing food is without meat and dairy.

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        1. A plant-based diet can certainly come with a lot of benefits! Unless the body really responds badly to it. And yes, I think one of the key points here is that plant-based eating can be at least as indulgent and enjoyable as what many people experience eating meat!

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  10. An important topic that everyone should at least consider. Less meat consumption is a global win. I’ve been spent a few years. vegetarian and like you guys, it was easy for me to switch as I never even enjoyed meat. I eat fish these days as I like it and food prep is much easier. Sometimes chicken as well, but I not often. Bon appetite!

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      1. Agree…
        there’s a thin book called ‘Food Rules’ that you’d probably like. By a guy Michael Pollan — it offers a sensible approach to eating, much like yours.

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  11. I really enjoyed this post! I especially liked your take on the ethical/moral topic around eating meat and plants. I have never tried going without meat in my diet because I do enjoy it and have never been in a situation where I couldn’t have it. I love the idea of eating more local foods!

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  12. I really enjoyed this post. I always try to get local produce, from meat to veggies – for the reasons you already described and also because I feel I am helping local business. Something I really love about you guys is how non judgemental you are: you explained your reasons for your diet, without trying to convince people to do the same or try to make them feel bad about eating differently. Well done!

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    1. Thank you! Also couldn’t agree more with the business component. Just another reason why I think buying food locally is one of those things that require little effort but leads to large positive results.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Very interesting topic! I can’t say that I don’t eat any meat at all, but I have definitely decreased my consumption of it a lot. I very rarely buy it for myself but sometimes order it at restaurants or something. I still really like the taste but for sure don’t miss it! I also think that the most impactful thing to do is to eat locally, so totally agree! Thanks for sharing 😊

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  14. First, OMG those food photos look incredible! (Happy to see roti feature in your photos :))
    I’ve been a vegetarian for a decade now. I chose to quit eating meat in high school after seeing a chicken get slaughtered in a local village farm. I was never able to look at meat the same way again. 🙈 Additionally, the meat industry is a very polluting industry and isn’t sustainable!
    My next goal is to turn vegan but it’s been so difficult. 🙈 Are you two considering turning vegan?

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    1. We love roti! Still working on making it ourselves, so far Micah has perfected the flatbread but the folding technique of roti is still a bit intimidating.

      Crazy how our relationship to food can change when we learn about how it is made, no? I think knowing about this is an essential part of being aware of one’s diet.

      We have cut down on dairy a lot, but I don’t think removing cheese or chocolate from our diet will happen any time soon!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I still haven’t perfected making roti either. It takes practice, I guess. My mum makes around 10 perfect rotis in the time it takes me to make one funny one. 😛

        Same – and I just haven’t developed a taste for vegan cheese and chocolate. But I’m trying – hopefully soon! 🙂

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  15. Thanks, Marcus for this great read! We still eat meat! Sunday lunch here is traditionally a ‘roast’ meat meal often beef but can be white meat too. We usually have a ‘roast’ meal on Sundays but some years ago my wife and I decided (1) to eat less meat and (2) to eat more vegetables. So starting on Sunday with a ‘roast’ meat meal, Monday is completely vegetarian, and Tuesday is fish! And so it goes around repeating the rota and quite often we don’t eat meat again until the following Sunday. Basically, we’ve really cut down on meat and it hasn’t caused us any problems but has actually done us more good! Of course, we no longer work for a living, we’re both retired now, so we can organise our ‘eating’ routine the way that suits us best. It is quite possible that we could go completely vegetarian one day. That may still happen! I have to say that you guys look so very well for your no-meat diet, fit and healthy! 😊

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    1. That seems like a great way to maximize the good while still enjoying some meat now and again! And thank you – not eating meat does not have to mean eating fewer calories, as you can see on the photos hehe

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  16. I remember first time i saw them cut the chicken and i stopped eating meat for one year. Recently i’ve been into Reiki healing, so the urge to eat animals or even drinking is fading away. I guess because of that, certain people have left my life too since i stopped drinking. Yoga and healing has definitely made a huge impact on my life. And i wouldn’t trade it for anyone.

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      1. To be totally honest, during those vulnerable moments, I sense that I don’t fit in anymore. But I tell myself that it’s okay. I don’t have to carry on doing things the exact same way that i’ve been for so many years. Someone once told me, I can’t keep on living the same story over and over again. Something had to change and so I did 🙂

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  17. Thank you for this. It’s a very balanced and interesting perspective on the topic.

    I do eat meat but could very happily go without. My husband, on the other hand, is a big meat eater so I would have little success convincing him to eat a vegetarian diet.

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      1. He grew up on a farm so most of the meat he ate as a child came from their own herd. 🙂 We do try to buy our meat at local farmer’s markets when we can.

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  18. I wish I had someone to cook!! I periodically go vegetarian but eventual end up eating carbs instead of protein (carbs are so readily available!) and end up back on meat.

    Most recently, the Netflix film “Okja” made me confront the moral issue and go veggie during the movie (I was baking chicken strips and ended up throwing them outside for wildlife). I stayed veggie till I started buying meat for my very sick cat, to get him to eat this year. I eventually started eating the leftovers. I feel like I eat meat all the time now but it’s actually pretty rare, maybe a couple times a month.

    I love the idea of eating locally. Maybe I’ll adopt that when I have income again and feel safe going to farmer’s markets!

    Everything in the pics looks fantastic!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, getting cooked food like this makes it easy not to eat meat! The most important thing is to be honest with ourselves, no? And then do what we can, one step after the other. Whether that means eating less meat, eating more local food, or whatever else we think is the right thing to do.

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      1. Yes. I think it’s important to at least be honest with yourself about your choice. It’s extremely easy for people, esp here in US cities, to be so far removed from food processing that they never think about what was required to put meat on their plate.

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        1. The problem exists in Germany, too. Meat can be excessively cheap here, and those prices don’t come out of nowhere. I guess the only way to do anything about that is by changing the demand for food.

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