Oh, how I loathe that question. I once wrote a paper trying to describe why, but it failed. I think now I can finally put it into words:
My choice to be a vegetarian was exactly that; My. Choice. It was not one thing, one event, or one thought that made me give up meat, it was many things, many thought processes, a lot of research and little events from my whole life combining to convince that becoming a vegetarian was the right choice for me. Notice how I don't say the right choice period. Or the best thing for all of humanity, or that everyone should be a vegetarian. It's a personal choice, if it's not the right choice for you, don't be a vegetarian! I don't mind; I don't like you less or more just because of your eating habits. I do what I want, you do what you want, and we'll all be happy!
And yet, when I tell people I'm vegetarian, there will be a polite nod, a pause and then, sometime later they will ask: So, why did you decide to be a vegetarian? When they ask this question, I have always interpreted to mean: Why should I become a vegetarian? That is why I hate the question. I have always understood that they are asking me to justify to them why they should make the same choice I did. I don't know!! I'm not them!! I don't know their experiences, their life, their thought process. I don't even know if they should be a vegetarian. That's their choice.
Drek and I had a long talk last night (on a different subject entirely) and I had an epiphany. After bringing up the vegetarian issue Drek suggested that when people ask: So, why did you decide to be a vegetarian? They are asking: What are you accusing me of?
People are, in general, defensive. I blame this on the fact that some people have a superior attitude. When someone says they have made a choice that differs from yours, like "oh, I never go outside on Sunday, it detracts from the spirit." or "oh, I don't eat dead animals, it's just so cruel." People assume they are looking down on them for not making the same choice. Usually, because the people are looking down on them for not making the same choice. And with PETA out there, screaming that meat-eaters are devils for murdering animals, who can blame people?
This came as a huge eye-opener to me. All this time I've been answering: "oh, a lot of reasons." AHHH!!! Very wrong thing to say!!!!!!!! I think a much better answer would be "because I want to." which is both true, and non-accusatory. Drek thinks I should go with "I'm protein-intolerant." which is not true, but very non-accusatory.
So, to those who read this blog, who thought I was accusing of them of not making the same choice I have, I apologize. Really, I had no idea I was accusing you. It was not my intent, nor do I think that my food choices are in anyway superior to yours.
Sincerely, K La