And I’m about to become one. Beginning Sunday, we will be omitting chicken, beef and pork from our diets for the month of July.
I’ve had this conversation frequently over the past few weeks as we’ve mentioned our upcoming lifestyle change to friends and family. So pardon me as I presume your thought process.
A lot of you are thinking, “say whaaaat?! Girl, you crazy.”
To which I say, yes. Well, actually, not really. Maybe. We’ll see.
It probably seems strange to go from eating meat for over 27 years to suddenly decide to stop. I grew up on a farm and we raised beef cattle, for goodness sake. Only this isn’t a decision that was made suddenly or lightly. Hubs and I have talked about taking on a vegetarian diet on and off for years.
Over the years, I’ve learned bits and pieces about the gruesome practices of most major meat producers, the conditions the animals are raised and the intentions of these mega-farms. If you’re curious, Food Inc. is a great source of information on these practices. So about a year ago, we stopped buying grocery store meats. We began purchasing farm-raised beef and chicken but kids, that stuff is expensive.
For beef-lovers, the most economical solution is to purchase a ¼, ½ or entire cow. You know, buying in bulk. It comes (obviously) butchered and packaged for storage in a deep freezer. But this is still expensive. We’ve considered taking on a vegetarian lifestyle for awhile and before we invest several hundreds of dollars into beef, we need to give this a serious shot. Because once that money is spent, you better believe we can’t afford to let it go to waste.
We’ve also discussed raising our own chickens for eggs and slaughter. While I don’t consider myself to be overly sympathetic to animals and I don’t personify them, I imagine I would have a difficult time killing something I spent time caring for even if the intentions were clear from the beginning. Especially when it just isn’t necessary.
“Expense is a weak reason to cut out all meat. Just cut back!”
It’s not all about expense. You can’t un-read or un-see things, as much as you may wish to. I became so bothered by the habit of companies like Tyson, I found it difficult to eat out not knowing where the meat was from, what it was fed or how it was prepared. I suppose it goes back to having an annoyingly strong moral compass. It just felt wrong to be supporting a practice that I found so disturbing.
Becoming vegetarians isn’t a small task for our family. You see, the majority of vegetarians love them some cheese, yogurt and other delicious dairy products. But with B’s milk allergy, those items are off the table. So we’re looking at a lot of vegan meals with the addition of eggs and honey.
“But aren’t you worried about your kids’ diets?!”
We have two excellent eaters who generally eat whatever we cook. There are lots of plant-based sources of protein (quinoa, beans, peanut butter) and they eat lots of fruits and veggies every day.
“Earlier, you said you are removing beef, chicken and pork. What about fish?”
At this point, we will still occasionally be eating fresh, wild-caught and/or local seafood.
“But that’s cheating! That makes you a pesceterian, not a vegetarian!”
No, it’s not cheating – our diets, we make the rules. Yes, technically, we will be considered pescetarians. With B’s unusual dietary restrictions, I felt omitting seafood would be very limiting for her and traveling and eating out would become nightmare (Ha! As if it wasn’t already with a toddler and preschooler). Also, coastal living provides us with access to a variety of affordable and locally-caught fish and shellfish. The foundation of our diet will be plants and seafood will be an accessory.
“What happens at the end of the month?”
I don’t really know. If Hub or I are practically dying for a taco or grilled chicken, we’ll reevaluate. He seems to think he’ll go back to eating meat. We’ll see.
“Man, I love meat. I could never be a vegetarian.”
Hey, that’s ok.
Part of the reason I started this blog was to share with people how easy and enjoyable it is to live a simple, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Please understand, I am in no way saying you or anyone should jump aboard the vegetarian wagon. Eating is a personal choice and there are a lot of emotions and societal factors attached to diets. But I do want to show you that it’s doable and even (hopefully) enjoyable.
I do hope, however, that you will educate yourself on where your food and meat, specifically, comes from.
“So, why are you telling me?”
Because this is my blog and that is what I do. I’ll be sharing recipes and recaps of what worked and what didn’t. Also, I’ll be blogging to keep myself accountable. No emergency Chick-Fil-A lunchtime drive-thru when the kids are famished or last-minute sloppy joe dinners. And if there are slip-ups, I’ll tell you.
Lastly, I need your help – what are your favorite vegetarian and dairy-free recipes?
Want more info?
- Food Inc.
- The Kind Diet (her recipes are a little impractical but her insight is worth the read)
- Midwest Maven – many kudos to her for the 30-day inspiration and sharing her awesome story on becoming a vegetarian.
- The Omnivore’s Dilemna (disclaimer: I haven’t finished this yet but Michael Pollan shares some fascinating information on the American Diet and how screwed up it’s become)
- Really interesting infographs on America’s meat consumption