Sunday, January 17, 2010

Veg vs. Flex

DH and I were discussing our culinary future yesterday. He is actually more committed to vegetarianism than I am, which surprises me. (It's good to be married to someone who surprises you from time to time; keeps things spicy!) During our discussion I said I think it's OK to eat meat a few times a year which would make us flexitarians instead of vegetarians, although we are veg on a day to day basis. (No meat in 2010 so far!) He countered and said if you buy into the reasons for becoming vegetarian in the first place then it should be all or nothing. Eating meat now would be like cheating at Sudoku; it would make it all pointless. I countered with remember the Sardinians! I read about them in The Blue Zones. They are among the longest lived people on the planet, along with the Okinawans in Japan, the 7th Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, and a group of people in Costa Rica. They routinely live healthy, vibrant lives well past the age of 100. Many of these people eat a largely plant based diet, and the 7th Day Adventists are vegetarians exclusively, but the Sardinians will eat meat a few times each year for special celebrations. That feels right to me- only a few times a year for celebrations.

So what are my reasons for going veg, anyway? I know I’ve written about a lot of the issues, but it boils down to two things that I can’t get past. One, the factory farming system absolutely disgusts me; there is NOTHING good about it except it keeps prices at the checkout artificially low for people on fixed incomes. Secondly, there’s the environmental impact. Prices may be low at the checkout but the price is high for the planet and that bill will come due. It already is due for the poor in third world countries; the food that goes to cattle and other farm animals is taken directly out of their mouths. The amount of water it takes to produce a pound of meat is also extraordinarily high, which my children and their children and their children will be paying for in the future.

There are other issues, of course. Animal cruelty (part of the factory farming system) is a big deterrent to continuing to eat meat. The health issues are big, too- as The Blue Zones points out, it is far healthier to eat a plant based diet. Plus now we’re finding out we just like it. DH and I are both surprised that we really don’t miss meat all that much. We may even decide, when it comes time for those special celebratory meals, that we don’t want meat. (Although The Youngest, aka The Wild Child, would be devastated. He loves his dead animals!)

Which brings up the kids. The girls are both adjusting well. The Eldest and The Middle Child are both OK with going veg at home. The Eldest still craves shrimp when we go out to eat at certain restaurants and I told her I think it’s perfectly OK for her to have that once in a while. (She’ll eat veg exclusively at places that don’t have good shrimp, though.) The Middle Child is content to give up meat entirely and doesn’t seem to miss it at all, like DH and I. She never orders meat/seafood when we go out like the other two. It’s hardest on The Youngest. He orders chicken tenders every time he possibly can and begs me to make meat at home again. I keep reminding him that he can order meat as much as he wants when we go out to eat (and we take them out at least once a week) but I’m not going to buy meat at the grocery anymore except for special occasions. His birthday will count as a special occasion- he’s already making up his menu plan! Luckily he likes Yves brand veggie dogs; he eats those quite a bit. Unfortunately he hates beans. I LOVE beans so bean dishes are making a regular appearance on our dinner table, much to his chagrin. I’m not sure what he eats when we run out of hotdogs; I just don’t look. He’s not losing weight or anything so I guess he’s getting enough. (We always have things around he can prepare himself- cereal, oatmeal, the aforementioned veggie dogs, PB&J sandwiches, fruit, and so forth.)

So are we vegetarian or flexitarian? I guess only time will tell.

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