I have written before about how tired I get from labels and stereotypes- though I am guilty of using both myself.
Can Christians be environmentalists?
Can Tomboys wear stilettos?
Can one who loves hardcore punk rock also dig Patsy Cline?
Can vegetarians eat meat?
The word "Vegetarian" is a word that has been draining me as of lately.
(Now don't panic at this point and think this post is a huge "anti-meat" rant. It's not.)
(my tee shirt)
I am a vegetarian and I also love meat. There, I said it. Most labels and definitions from society would not allow me to put those two statements together in a sentence.
As a young child of the 70's and 80's, I grew up eating Shepherd's Pie and Tuna Noodle Casserole with crushed potato chips. Meat was in EVERY meal. My mother was a wonderful cook, but in that era, the only mushroom I knew of was what was found in cans of condensed cream of mushroom soup. Onions and green peppers came pre-chopped in frozen bags, tomatoes were something you bought in cans, and garlic was found in the spice aisle in little shaker containers. I think as a child we only went to the fresh produce area of the grocery store to buy bananas. A "salad" was something that had jello, Cool Whip, canned fruit and marshmallows in it. No fault to my mother, in the rising era of convenience food, that's the way moms cooked. And, it tasted great!
In college, my now husband and I were on a date at Barnes and Noble. (Yes, we're nerds and proud of it.) I fell in love with a vegetarian cookbook because of its beautiful photos. I thought: Surly food made only of vegetables could not taste as good as these beautiful photos made it appear. I bought the book.
As a young married couple trying to make ends meet, we went vegetarian one meal a week to "save money."
Thirteen years later my eyes were opened to the reality of factory farming. I'll spare you the details. Though I had never considerd myself an animal rights activist- I knew:
1. I could no longer consume the amount of meat that I was, now knowing what I did.
2. I could not afford (but fully support those that can!) to buy meat from animals that were treated the way I believe God intended them to be treated and fed the food that I believe God intended them to be eating.
Michael Pollan writes in the Omnivore's Dilemma, "If all factory farms had glass walls, every American would be a vegetarian, or would demand something different."
So a couple of years ago my husband, children, and I began a reduced meat diet.
Was I protesting by not eating meat? In a sense, yes, but it became so much more.
After my father was diagnosed with cancer, between all the research I had done on the factory farm industry and cancer "diets", a plant based diet was the direction our family was headed. At the same time we gave up processed food and I began making everything from scratch.
In time, our bodies began showing us that this was the way of life for us. My husband and I lost weight, felt better and had more energy. We began tasting vegetables for the first time, something that was always covered up by the flavor of meat. Food tasted so much better when we could taste all the seasoning and each ingredient!
Though I still love meat, I have lost my taste for it and my body no longer processes it with ease when I do consume it.
Do I beat people over the heads with vegetarian propaganda? No. (At least I don't think so.) At times I feel a bigger deal has been made by others about the way I eat. When you go against the way society expects you to be, you can expect some backlash.
But I figure, you eat what you want and I'll eat what I want. Since I enjoy people informing me of issues in this world, whether I agree or not, I occasionally choose to do the same.
Let's stop being quick too judge and label, and be a little slower to listen to what people are actually saying.
Now because I've got a sense of humor, I had to throw this one in... :)
Now happy cooking to ALL OF YOU. Meat-eaters and Vegetarians alike!
Listed below are a few fantastic resources.
Cookbooks for meat-eaters looking for a reduced-meat diet:
The Food Matters Cookbook by Mark Bittman
What's Wrong With What We Eat by Mark Bittman
The Omnivore's Dilema by Michael Pollan
Food Matters by Mark Bittman
Food Polotics by Marion Nestle
Joel Salatin And Polyface Farm: Stewards of Creation from EarthEats
A Feast Fit For A King from Christianity Today
Forks Over Knives
No Impact Man