The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 18, 2012

Murray: No ribbing here; vegetarianism is what's for dinner

By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer

— Ribs. Steak. Chicken. Ribs ... Oh, man. I loves me some ribs.

But starting Monday, I started doing something I’m quite certain I’ve said I’d never do: I’ve become a vegetarian. But I’m not doing it for me. It’s for my daughter.

Let me be up front about a few things. I love meat in all forms, and I have no plans on making a permanent switch to vegetarianism. And I’m sure as heck not doing the vegan thing. (I also loves me some eggs!)

No, I’m taking this brief dietary detour for one reason: I want to understand my daughter’s decision and show her that I support her even if my palate doesn’t. So, for the next week, I’m goin’ meatless.

I wasn’t surprised when Emma told us she was becoming a vegetarian. I think it was the chicken video she saw that put her over the edge — the one where the dark side of the chicken processing industry is laid bare — but we could sort of see this coming. She’s kind of our little hippie.

Vegetarianism is at once very easy and very hard for me to understand.

From a diet perspective, we don’t technically need to kill other animals to survive. We can get by just fine on things that grow on plants and the byproducts that follow. And have you ever killed another living thing? Something inside me says that, even for the most avid hunter, it shouldn’t be easy or fun. I’d like to believe true hunters see hunting for its contribution to subsistence, not for its contributions to the taxidermists’ wallets.

But I also happen to believe that humans are meat eaters. I know, I know — there are plenty of people out there who would beg to differ. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals says there are biologists who swear humans were engineered — with wimpy canine teetth, a jaw better suited to grinding through vegetation than tearing flesh — to be herbivores. But plenty of other scientists say our bodies are, at best, designed to be omnivores.

I’m squarely in the omnivore camp.

However, I’m also in the camp of being open to new ideas. And in this case, I’ve got a pretty good (and cute) reason to venture outside my comfort zone, if only for a week.

Wish me luck!


Robb Murray is a Free Press staff writer. He can be reached at 344-6386, or