Writing Life

Why I’m a Vegetarian

Inspired by Blog Action Day, I’m writing about food while having my first (late!) coffee of the day. I’ve been on an oatmeal craze ever since a lower wisdom tooth was fixed (and my cheek swelled a lump the size of a pingpong ball) because it’s soothing and the maple syrup on it is a treat. That’s an aside because there’s some left-over oatmeal waiting for me on the table.

I never liked meat. As a kid, I used to hide it under the potatoes. It was worth sacrificing a few potatoes to avoid the meat. Tongue was a delicacy in my neighbourhood, one that I avoided for aesthetic reasons. But the first time I saw a cow open its mouth, I shouted, “Tongue!” in horror. That was when I realized that meat came from animals.

In university I lived mainly on a diet of pancakes and cheesecake, so meat wasn’t much of an issue, but it didn’t occur to me as a young adult that eating meat wasn’t really a necessary part of obtaining all the non-cake food groups. I wasn’t much of a cook, and living on my own I didn’t have the incentive to become one. I still ate cookies before the main meal (in case I ran out of room for the good stuff).

I didn’t decide to become a vegetarian. It was a process of attrition. My cooking style consisted of coming up with a dish and, having discovered it, I’d make it daily for the next 6 months until I found something else I could easily throw together for a main meal. One of those phases was a vegetarian dish, and when I realized how long it had been since I’d eaten any meat, I just kept going.

The first dinner A and I had together was at a Chinese restaurant, and only at the end of the meal, when the meat dish hadn’t been touched, did we each confess to the other, discovering that we were both vegetarians.

For A it’s an ethical issue. For me it’s a combination of preference, health and ethics. I’m glad that what I do is better for the earth. Many more people can be fed on a hundred acres of crop growing land than a hundred acres of grazing, where the land has soil that could support either. And I’m glad that I can look at a cow yawning and feel no pang of guilt.

But the fact is, too, that I’m relieved not to have to hide meat under the potatoes anymore. However, I still have the problem of wishing I had more room to eat A’s wonderful cooking. The universe had mercy on me when we were put together!

(All right–if he couldn’t cook, he’d still be cute, smart and sweet but it helps.)

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8 thoughts on “Why I’m a Vegetarian”

  1. I think I could quite easily convert to vegetarianism. But my husband is an Irish meat and potatoes guy, and it would be a really hard sell for him. I try to do one meatless meal per week, and when he enjoys it, I’m tempted to say “See! You could eat like this all the time!”

  2. I am vegetarian too, Lilian, and in my book, the vegetarian path is the only ethical way to live. I never look at meat counters when shopping – they make me feel sick at heart and rather nauseous too. This was a fine thoughtful post, and thanks for it.

  3. I’ve been vegetarian for, quite literally, as long as I can remember. I suppose I have a lot of reasons, but the #1 these days is habit, if I’m honest. The idea of eating animals is just *weird* to me.

    It’s sweet how the two of you discovered that you both were!

  4. I am so jealous of all the bloggers I know who have husbands who cook. I wish mine did! But then, I guess I am used to choosing the meal, and it would feel funny now not to do that.

  5. Rachel, I remember so vividly sheepishly confessing, and then laughing out loud with relief and delight.

    Litlove, I now “cook” (easy, semi-prepared) 2x a week when A teaches late and I do like the choosing part.

  6. “In university I lived mainly on a diet of pancakes and cheesecake,”

    LOL!

    I’ve been a vegetarian since I was a teenager, and while at first it was a matter of feeling uneasy about eating animals, now there are many reasons why I remain one (kind of like you, “preference, health, and ethics.” My partner recently became about 2 years ago when she got grossed out by some of the processed meat that was in one of her frozen lunch meals.

    1. Processed meat will do that! When my kids were little, they’d toddle around the grocery store pointing and saying in loud voices, “Is that MEAT? Mama, what’s MEAT?” And I’d say something like, well that’s a chicken dear. And they’d say, “People eat a chicken?” That was their earliest sense of identity, the world divided into people who ate meat and those who didn’t.

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