This past August I reached my one year anniversary of becoming a vegetarian. I've only broken my vow not to eat any meat a few times: once on Thanksgiving, twice when I was at a restaurant that only served meat and I had a tuna melt, and one other time when I was starving and was offered beef dumplings and I just ate it. Other than that it's been no meat or fish for over a year.
I'm often asked why I'm a vegetarian by people I know and I always relish in the opportunity to explain why. There are two main reasons why I've given up eating meat and fish.
First is the moral argument. I do not want to support an industry, whether it's at the industrial scale or not, that kills animals and often tortures them in horrible living conditions. By not eating meat and encouraging others to do so, I will help reduce demand and that will hopefully shrink the industry as a whole, with the goal of putting it out of business entirely. A moral society simply cannot support the systematic torture and death of sentient animals for our pleasure.
The second reason is the sustainability argument. Animal agriculture is responsible for 91% of the amazon rain forest destruction, 51% of global greenhouse emissions are due to livestock and their byproducts, three out of four of the world's fisheries are exploited, and for every one pound of fish caught five pounds of marine animals are unintentionally caught and killed as by-kill. In short, an ever increasing population of humans eating meat is environmentally unsustainable. A vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is necessary.
So for these two primary reasons I have given up eating meat and fish, and I can tell you, I definitely feel better and more ethical as a person after doing so. I'm am trying to walk the walk on ethics, and not just talk the talk, but I'd be a liar if I said it was easy.
Unfortunately, I read recently that about 86% of vegetarians eventually go back to eating meat. That means I'm statistically likely to go back to eating meat at some point in my future. Maintaining a vegetarian lifestyle is really hard. There are synthetic meats that are on the horizon, that may be economically viable in the next 10 years. If they can take off, I will certainly consider eating their meat. I'm not a vegetarian because I don't like the taste of meat. I love the taste of meat. If I could eat meat without animals being tortured and killed and without the negative environmental impact, I would. Synthetic meat could make this possible. It could also put the existing animal agricultural industry out of business through market competition. But we'll have to see what happens.