Why people are vegetarian

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Reading through Suite101.com’s Vegetarian section led me to this article covering why people become vegetarian.

A few of the comments bothered me, but most of them came from this paragraph:

Some people have tried a vegetarian diet and decided it wasn’t for them. Jodi wrote, “I tried leading a vegetarian life, and felt utterly unsatisfied with tofu burger substitutes and unfilling vegetables. Veggie living was not for me. I missed the steaks and trips to McDonald’s. Being a vegetarian, and doing it right, is hard work. And if you’re not educated about proper food substitution, you can become malnourished and ill. I admire those who commit themselves fully to the vegetarian lifestyle. For me, the decision to try out vegetarian living had nothing to do with animal rights (and I think you can wholeheartedly support animal rights and still eat meat), it was for curiosity’s sake. I tried it, and it wasn’t for me. Eating out became a chore (and for someone like me who doesn’t cook, eating out is a must). In smaller towns, like the one I’m from, it’s hard to find restaurants that cater to non-meat-eaters, and I became frustrated. I didn’t give up, I opted out. And though I still don’t eat a lot of meat, I do enjoy the occasional burger or steak.”

“Being a vegetarian, and doing it right, is hard work.” Yes, and so are most things worth doing. But I also agree with a quote later in the article from Karen: “I think being a vegetarian is really easy, but being vegan is harder.”

“And if you’re not educated about proper food substitution, you can become malnourished and ill.” I’d bet that being not educated about proper eating is even more dangerous if you do eat meat. Few people die from an excess of fruits and vegetables.

“I didn’t give up, I opted out” Nonsense, Jodi. You did give up; vegetarianism isn’t a mailing list. If you’re from a small town and find the restaurants you go out to don’t have many options, then here’s the solution: eat in. Make your own dinners.

“I think you can wholeheartedly support animal rights and still eat meat” Sure you can, but aren’t you just sweeping animal rights issues under the carpet as you chomp on your Big Mac?

As I’ve said before, I don’t look down on meat-eaters. Vegetarianism is a personal choice and I’m not going to shove it down anyone’s throat. But people like Jodi are the type that say they “tried being vegetarian” but then try to discount it with lame excuses like the ones listed above. If you’ve tried it and it’s not for you, fine, but look at your reasons and make sure they’re not just empty justifications.

Another quote I had problems with:

I, too, heard many arguments on what defines a vegetarian or vegan. Susan considers herself a vegetarian but does eat fish. “I read somewhere that what I really am is a ‘pescatarian’,” she wrote, “but I still consider myself a vegetarian.”

for reasons I’ve stated before, but also was a bit discomforted by this one:

Laura, a very strict vegan, wrote, “If you eat sugar, which is processed through animal bones, you are not vegan, nor vegetarian. If you eat eggs you are in absolutely no way a vegetarian – ovo-vegetarian is a ridiculous term! Eggs are basically unborn chickens – if you eat them, you eat meat and that’s that. As for dairy eaters, where do you think milk comes from? An animal. It’s an animal product and again, if you eat animal products you aren’t vegetarian. If you wear leather, fur or wool, please don’t even try to call yourself a vegetarian. It’s insulting to those of us who are. I don’t know what you should be called, but I know what you shouldn’t.”

This quote is reflective of the problems that Dr. Sapon discusses here of the vegan-vegetarian rift.

Taste of Vietnam

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I went with Alex today to lunch at Taste of Vietnam across the street from my work. I’d eaten there a few times before and was moderately impressed by their vegetarian offerings. They have 10-15 dishes for vegetarians and the two I had were OK. But today, wow. I had wheat gluten (which doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but really is) covered in a caramel soy sauce and topped with black pepper. It was outstanding.

Alex, who is also vegetarian, had a similar dish, but with curry. He gave his the thumbs up as well.

Each of them went for $6.95. Not bad at all.

Meatout

I decided to go ahead and make a conscious effort to follow a vegan diet as my contribution to Meatout 2001. It’s not an easy thing, as a lot of items labeled “vegetarian” (like soy cheese) have ingredients like casein, which is not vegan-friendly.

For breakfast, I had a half a grapefruit.

For a morning snack, I had organic celery with some organic peanut butter.

For lunch, I had a Boca vegan burger on whole wheat bread with lettuce, onions, and mustard. I also had a huge organic red delicious apple, an orange, and a 1/4 sleeve of whole wheat Ritz crackers. No Double Stuf Oreos for me today. :)

For dinner I’ll be having Rigati pasta with some sort of tomato sauce—probably a tomato basil blend. I haven’t decided on any side dishes.

Tomorrow: Meatout 2001

Don’t forget: tomorrow is Meatout 2001. Leave a comment here and let me know if you abstained from meat, chicken, and fish for the day. I’m thinking about making tomorrow a vegan day for myself, so that I’m also doing a little something extra.