1 - 2008

World Vegetarian Day: What do you eat?

It’s World Vegetarian Day today, Oct. 1, and the kickoff of Vegetarian Awareness Month. Let’s recognize the day with a poll to gauge our collective level of vegetarianism (or the lack thereof).

How much meat do you eat?

1) Meat free, baby – I’m vegan.
2) Ovo/lacto vegetarian.
3) I eat fish, but no other meat.
4) My taste likes chicken.
5) Red meat once in a blue moon.
6) Red meat once a week.
7) Iron man/woman – red meat daily.
8) No restrictions as long as it’s organic.

View Results

Make your own poll

Where my diet stands

I’m not a vegetarian. For about ten years, I was, with the exception of some fish and the occasional strip of bacon — and the dishes served at family get-togethers (“it’s all vegetarian; there’s just some sausage in it”). I gave up meat for health reasons and because I’d never much cared for it. I stuck with it after college environmental science classes addressed factory farming and environmental degradation.

I married a meat-eater, but for a long time he indulged only outside the house. Then I worked for a French cooking school (where some of the chefs mocked vegetarians, both with words and with tempting, tasty dishes). Finally, I conceived my daughter and really, really NEEDED to eat beef flautas (I’ve since mostly given those up, but not the guacamole that came with them).

And yet I get an uncomfortable feeling when too much meat comes into my life. It’s just not who I am. So I have a sort of compromise: I do eat dairy, I do eat eggs, I do eat some meat — perhaps a couple of times a week, which sounds like a lot to a former vegetarian.

I avoid endangered fish. The beef I eat is pretty much only from our own organically raised quarter animal, raised locally and stored in our chest freezer. I buy organic chicken. Sometimes I eat meat at a restaurant, often something tempting like lamb, which comes from a local farm and not a factory, or a bison burger, (which I presume is pretty much all range-fed, although I can’t find details online — anyone have info on bison?).

My solution isn’t perfect, but it keeps my husband from weeping about his lack of meat. By choosing our meat consciously most of the time, it keeps our level of consumption in check, too.

How do you resolve the meat-or-no-meat issue?

Keeping it clean

In addition to keeping my conscience cleaner, the way we eat also provides a higher comfort level when it comes to the dangers of our mass-production society. Verda Vivo recently published a post about the 6 Dirtiest Foods — those most likely to contain contamination. Five of the six are animal products. A phrase like “A single hamburger may contain meat from hundreds of animals” is enough to make my stomach roil.

I’m something of a kitchen paranoiac, especially given that we try to use greener cleaning products rather than harsh chemicals. Less meat generally means fewer surfaces and items to scrub down and worry about.

Knowing it’s local … or how far it’s come

On a related note, for those eating meat or vegetables and seeking to have a more local diet, Green Daily noted this week that a new law requires foodstuffs to be labeled with their country of origin. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) should be taking effect now.

Have you seen a difference at your market?

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