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.

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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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8 thoughts on “World Vegetarian Day: What do you eat?

  1. jessimonster says:

    I guess I’m technically a flexitarian (I really try to avoid eating meat, but every now and then I cave and eat some). I’ve really been working at making that final step to vegetarianism, but I don’t know how well it fits into my life. First of all, I come from a hunting family, and meat is kind of central to their diets. In fact, I’m pretty sure my family’s version of the food pyramid goes meat, grains, dairy, fruits, then vegetables. Second, I’m in the military, and a lot of the times refraining from meat at a military function means refraining from eating entirely. I really thought those would be my only obsticles, until I went on a date the other night and we ended up going to Good Times. What do you get there but meat? I caved and ate a hamburger. Luckily (?) I threw it up later that night. Food poisoning. Ewww.
    When I do eat meat, I prefer fish. Its healthier. But I worry about over fishing. I know I should give meat up entirely, but its so hard! I’ve quit smoking before, but giving up meat is harder.

  2. Harper says:

    I was a vegetarian for about 8 years and slowly morphed into a ‘social carnivore’ [I was veg at home and when I went out, would eat seafood and chicken occasionally]; then when I moved to New Orleans I made the choice to not be a vegetarian anymore. Red beans and rice without andouille sausage, no crawfish etoufee, etc was beyond bearing for me. When I was vegetarian it was because I felt it was a better use of finite resources to eat lower on the food chain and now I’m pretty much like you [less the quarter animal in a chest freezer], mostly still vegetarian and making an effort to eat local humanely-raised options when I do choose to eat meat.

  3. cheaplikeme says:

    @Harper – Very understandable; when I visited Creole relatives in SE Texas I believe we had sausage with every meal and twice as much at breakfast! But they had made a bunch of it themselves …

  4. jmisgro says:

    I didn’t know about the day but thank goodness we had fish for dinner!
    I tried being a vegetarian once. I started craving meat. I even dreamed about it. Then one night I lost it and drove to Sonic in the middle of the night for a burger. That was in 1981 and I have never tried it again! But I do eat more veg than anything else.

  5. CT says:

    About five years ago I talked to a bison rancher, who told me that bison were increasingly being raised/finished in feedlots. That negates the health benefits (lower saturated fat, higher omega-3s) of eating grass-fed animals, obviously. You can get lists of bison producers committed to grass feeding from the American Grassfed Association’s website, http://www.americangrassfed.org. As with all our food, sadly, you can’t assume anything.

  6. The Future Is Red says:

    I’m pretty much the same as you, including the pregnancy thing. Pre-pregnancy, if I had red meat once a year, it was a lot. Pregnancy hit, and suddenly I’m all about the eggs of one animal on the meat of another sprinkled with the milk of a third.

    Now I’m back on the organic only, raising awareness method. Which is somewhat difficult when you’re moving around all the time. I’ve found it somewhat easier, though, in other countries.

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