First let me state my personal position: if you want to be vegetarian or vegan that is great. It is healthy, good for your hip pocket and the environment, and let's face it, vegetables are delicious. Personally I only ever eat meat 2 or 3 times a week.
Attribution: Pixabay - PDPics
However let's put this on its head for a moment and think about whether it is really worth becoming a vegetarian.
You don't have to go all in to do good
People become vegetarian for a number of reasons; it could be ethical, environment, health or even financial. Do you really need to give up meat absolutely to do good? Why can't you just eat less meat?
If you are thinking of becoming vegetarian why not just focus on eating less and less meat. Next thing you know you will have gone vegetarian for weeks without realising it, simply because vegetables are so tasty anyway.
Meat is the easy way to good nutrition
A good diet would include a range of fruit, vegetables and grains, and meat maybe 3 times a week. Yes you can remove meat completely and still be healthy. I know a lot of vegetarians who have been told that their diet is bad for them but health checks always prove the opposite.
Attribution: Flickr - Joey Yee
However meat is a great source of essential nutrients, so cutting it out of your diet can create problems unless you take steps to replace it with other things. For vegans it is even more difficult. Meat on occasion is just a great way to balance your diet without effort.
The social issue
I know 2 types of vegetarians. The first type are aggressive and won't even go into a restaurant that serves meat. The other type are always going "We don't have to go to a vegetarian restaurant just because I am vegetarian." Personally I love vegetables and I rarely feel that I have to eat meat, so I don't mind, in fact it is good to hang out with people who also love vegetables.
But think of all the social implications of being a vegetarian. It is easy worse when you travel. You never know what you are eating and personally I don't care, I will try anything once. But for vegetarians eating out in other countries can be a nightmare. Then there are dinner parties, barbecues and so on. Do you really have to be strictly vegetarian or can you chomp some flesh now and then?
The A-hole factor
I went camping with a friend, and he refused to let me cook my non-vegetarian food in his pan, which we had planned to share in the first place so I hadn't brought my own cookware. Then when we returned to town we stopped off at a takeaway place that cooked his veggie burgers in the same oil as the meat. But he said he didn't care.
Attribution: Flickr - rian_bean
Vegans of course are even worse. I don't mind accommodating my vegan/vegetarian friends as well as cultural differences in food consumption and from experience most people are the same. However if being a vegetarian or vegan means you act like an A-hole then maybe you need to steak to calm yourself down.
It is not really about being a vegetarian anyway
Many of my vegetarian or vegan friends are also concerned about the treatment of animals, the environment or their health. Most vegetarians I know don't just eat vegetables, they eat only organic vegetables.
Attribution: Flickr - Josh Russell
It is great to be healthy, environmentally conscious and treat animals better. My view is that we can embrace these concepts first and worry about being vegetarian later. I think that the message shouldn't be give up meat, but eat more vegetables.
There is nothing wrong with being vegetarian or vegan
I love vegetables and respect anyone else who does as well. Without vegetarianism there wouldn't all the great vegetarian restaurants that I know and love. So all power to the veggie brigade.