That Vegetarian Thing; Part Un

I’ve been sort of dreading writing my recap of our 30 days as vegetarians.

Not because it didn’t go well but because I knew it was going to take a lot of time and energy to recap such a changing experience. I learned so much over the course of the month, I have a lot to say so I think it’ll be best if I break it into a few different posts. I suppose I’ll talk first on the social aspect of being a vegetarian.

As I mentioned in my initial postabout our little 30-day test drive, our main motivations were money and health. Those haven’t changed but I now know there are huge economical, environmental and ethical reasons, also.

I’m really, really glad that we abstained from eating meat while taking the time to really educate ourselves. Yes, I suppose I could have educated myself without becoming a vegetarian. But there is something to be said for drastically changing your lifestyle so you can step back and study it objectively. I spent many evenings reading, skimming and pouring over information about the animals we eat, how those animals are raised and killed, the repercussions of eating meat and how others have made it work.

J being a smartypants vegetarian.

The hardest part – and I think J would agree – is the social aspect of being a vegetarian. It was really easy to be vegetarians in our home. But when our meals included non-vegetarians, things got tricky.

Pretty early in, neighbors kindly invited us to dinner and I had to have the awkward, “Uh, so we’re kind of vegetarians now. Oh, and my daughter can’t eat dairy, either. So we’re sort of vegans, actually. But, we eat eggs. But only ones that are local and farm-raised. So,  good luck finding something to make us for dinner. Thanks for the invite!”

That’s not exactly how the conversation went, but I still felt awkward. They were incredibly understanding and kind and made us a delicious meal.

But some people can be really sensitive about their eating habits. Communal dining is a huge part of relationships in every culture. Celebrations, first dates – even funerals – typically revolve around getting together and breaking bread. By telling people I’m a vegetarian, it sometimes feels like I’m breaking the sense of camaraderie and a lot of people become defensive about their own eating habits. As if my informed decision not to eat meat means I think they are cruel and barbaric in their decision to. Not entirely the case. If you have researched and educated yourself on where your food comes from, I can’t pass judgement on your decisions. But more on that later.

When we decided to go meat-free for July, we didn’t really think about J’s family coming for a 9-day visit. While we miss our families terribly, we are spoiled to live so far away when it comes to our lifestyle choices. Our families support our decisions but we don’t have to spend much time considering if our decisions are compatible with theirs. I didn’t realize how difficult it would be to sustain a vegetarian lifestyle when sharing a table with others. J’s family are pretty conscious omnivores and were respectful of our decisions. But it’s hard to feed 9 people (4 of whom were kids) all with different dining styles and preferences without using meat. Most of our meals were vegetarian but a few nights, we had dinners made with beef from a local farm. As a family, you have to make compromises and this was one I was comfortable with, given the situation.

But, generally speaking, is it worth the social awkwardness worth being vegetarian? Absolutely.

Girls are waking up from their (very short) afternoon naps, so I’ll continue this later.

We’re going to visit family next week and I’m unsure how we’re going to handle the 13 hour drive north. If it were just J and I, we would just pack food instead of stopping at restaurants to eat. But the girls will need to get out of their seats occasionally and there aren’t any fast food restaurants I’m comfortable eating at. The route we take doesn’t have any real rest areas, either. Any ideas?

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9 thoughts on “That Vegetarian Thing; Part Un

  1. *S* … I am not a vegetarian, but most of my friends think I am because I rarely eat meat.

    As to you dilemma about cooking/feeding others that are not vegetarians ~ from your writings I gather that not only has others respected your choices, but that you respect theirs as well. I do not personally think there is anything wrong with cooking a variety of meals for a single sitting. (Think kids … what you and your husband eats vs what you sometimes have to cook for the children!) Also, the more you delve into vegetarian fare the more variety and options you will see.

    Restaurants ~ Many restaurants will have vegetarian fare … at least the one’s I’ve been to. Also, do an online search for veggies places. You’d be amazed how many there are and the most scrumptious of foods that are to had *S*.

    Good luck and happy eating!

  2. pack food and eat at parks! thats what i do on long trips. better than trying to get them to sit some more in a restaurant. i miss you! I am glad you are happy with your food these days! that is a wonderful feeling.

  3. My spouse and I are new vegetarians too (starting June 1), and like you, we have some limited exceptions. I was really ambivalent starting out, but now it`s easier to maintain than to drop!

  4. Love this post! I’m so excited to read your next installment on being a vegetarian. I know exactly what you mean about feeling like you make other people feel bad because of your choices…I’m so used to feeling that way that I don’t even notice it much anymore.

    • Hey Maggie! I’m hoping I get a thicker skin, soon. I don’t know why I’m being so nuts-o re: the rest of my recap; I’m making myself crazy trying to cite and back-up my thoughts. I need to remember I’m not in J-school any more 🙂

  5. Pingback: That Vegetarian Thing, Part Deux. | The Lambent Life

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