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.
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?