For the month of September, I am going to “test-drive” vegetarianism.
As it stands now, I only eat red meat once or twice a month. This is not due to some moral superiority, but because I don’t like red meat except in two or three dishes (a cheeseburger is one). I have never liked steak, and I don’t care for much pork. Again, I’m not smug about this – if anything, I wish I liked more meat because it would help my husband be more adventurous in the kitchen. And I make up for it by eating an enormous amount of chicken.
I have never tried to be a vegetarian before, and I’m curious to see how easy or difficult it’s going to be. I realize my motivations might be completely different from other people’s, but for better or worse, these are the two reasons I would consider someday eliminating meat from my diet:
First: I am an animal lover. I know this sounds cliché and childish to many people. But to me it is a very real thing. I think about how much I love my two dogs, and then I look into the eyes of a pig at a county fair.
I’m not convinced there’s enough of a difference there to create the distinction we are all so comfortable with.
At the same time, I know that every person sees the world through a unique lens and I understand other people don’t feel this way. It’s a luxury to live in a country where you can choose not to eat meat and still survive.
The second reason: I am frustrated with the agriculture industry in this country. I don’t feel like I am educated enough to speak on this topic…which is one of my points of frustration. There are so many problems with the situation that it’s hard to know where to start and whom to listen to. I have no interest in reading a pamphlet that vilifies meat eating or scoffs at vegetarianism, because I respect everyone’s dietary choices.
This problem extends far beyond meat products, as we know from the near-constant recalls of our vegetables, fruits, eggs, etc. In the United States in 2010, people should be able to go into a grocery store and purchase groceries that will not make them ill. This is something I firmly believe, and it doesn’t sound like an outrageous expectation. The beauty of this nation is that people can pursue all sorts of careers instead of attending to the task of trying to raise their own foods. (For instance, working full-time and teaching four yoga classes this week!)
Similarly, not everyone has the money, time, or resources to attend farmer’s markets or drive out to nearby farms and buy locally-grown food. I’d be happy to explain to you why these actions are a luxury of the middle-to-upper classes.
But I’m getting off track here. The point is: people should be able to purchase food in the grocery store that doesn’t make them sick. But even the foods that don’t make us ill are suspicious. The chicken breasts are oddly large and the apples are three times as big as they were when I was a child, yet strangely have less flavor. I don’t have to read up on the subject to know something is going wrong.
Giving up meat for a month will do absolutely nothing to change any of this, and I am completely aware of that. But I do hope it makes me more mindful of what I’m eating. I hope my body talks back and tells me how it feels about the situation. I hope to learn something. Follow me on twitter if you’d like to stay in touch with my project. Who knows, maybe more food projects lie ahead: a month of gluten-free meals! A month of no dairy! A month of no chocolate (yeah right)!
If anyone has any unbiased sources information on the topic, please share. I’d also love to hear your omnivore-vegetarian-vegan-related thoughts in the comments.