“Are you still a vegetarian?” people ask me from time to time, which I find odd. As if I might respond: “No, actually, I used to think it was unethical to murder animals and eat their flesh, but now I think it’s OK.” So yes, I am still a vegetarian, and since this post was so popular last Thanksgiving (surprisingly), and I have several thousand more readers this year (will wonders never cease), I will re-share my thoughts for Thanksgiving Day 2013. I wish you gratitude, whatever you eat.
The last time I ate meat was Thanksgiving of 1978. Once each year, I would forsake vegetarianism to make my mother happy. But after I told her I could no longer partake, she always made a huge bowl of special stuffing with no meat juices, and I would obligingly eat the whole thing. (For her sake, of course.)
I don’t think much about being a vegetarian, except around Thanksgiving. Although the day is supposed to be about gratitude, it’s really about eating a huge dead bird and a bunch of carbs. (Also, football and clipping coupons in anticipation of Friday, which is National Greed Day.)
I don’t miss meat, really, although I suppose if I knew I had only one day to live, I might make a big, fat turkey sandwich with stuffing and cranberry sauce and lettuce and mayo.
Because Thanksgiving is all about food, it seems a good day to point out a few of the perks of being a vegetarian:
- You will lose weight, unless you eat a lot of pasta, potatoes, or cheese.
- People will serve you extra pasta and potatoes because you didn’t get “the main course.”
- People will also serve you extra cheese because “you need your protein.”
- You won’t have to eat Aunt Mildred’s gizzard gravy at Thanksgiving.
- If you find yourself in a Native Alaskan village above the Arctic Circle, you will not have to eat the Caribou Head soup. They might give you an extra slice of chocolate cake instead. (Trust me on this one.)
- Your friends will become very solicitous, especially in restaurants, where they will tell the waiter, “My friend’s a vegetarian – do you have anything she can eat?” This will be said either in a loud voice, as if they are taking command of a difficult situation, or in a lowered voice, as if they don’t want to embarrass you by sharing your condition in public.
- You will have plenty of opportunity to practice your creativity, particularly in responding to the absurd question, “But what do you EAT?” The obvious answer is “everything you eat except the meat,” but I usually say something about foraging in the backyard for dandelions and onion grass.
- You will quickly realize how mature you are compared to certain friends, the ones who, even after decades of knowing you, will impale a piece of dead cow on a fork and wave it in your face, saying, “Doesn’t that look good? Don’t you want some?” Usually, these flesh-wavers are men, and they are married to your best friends.
- You will feel holier than thou most of the time, and will nod in benevolent compassion without a trace of condescension when a complete stranger on a plane feels compelled to explain why they still eat meat, or how they used to be a vegetarian but got diarrhea, or how “I want to, but with the kids and all…”
I Don’t Care What You Eat . . . Really
I think these plane strangers go into defensive mode because they fear I’m going to preach to them. But I’m not a proselytizing vegetarian. It’s not my business. People make their own choices for their own reasons.
The first time I met a vegetarian – even though she was rail thin and had a slightly greenish hue — I knew that I was one at heart. I stopped eating meat the day I moved out of my parent’s house at nineteen. I read a book called Animal Liberation, and that was it. It was an ethical thing. Fish followed meat, and by age 25, I was clean.
I’m an ovo-lacto, meaning I still eat eggs and cheese. I try to eat only organic eggs from free ranging chickens. For full health benefits, it’s best not to eat animal fats at all, but since my motivation is mostly ethical, I’m safe in my cheese addiction.
In Case you Care
If you’re one of those people who considers vegetarianism from time to time, I’ll just include a little info below for you. You can file these facts away in the crinkly recesses of your brain, and one day, who knows? You might just make the switch to other protein sources. It’s been good for my soul and my body, is all I’ll say.
If you are an avowed meat-eater, just ignore me.
If you are one of those people who waves dead flesh under your veggie friends’ noses – please stop.
Have a blessed Thanksgiving!
. VEGETARIAN DIETS:
- Reduce the risk of major killers such as heart disease, stroke and cancer while cutting exposure to foodborne pathogens
- Provide a viable answer to feeding the world’s hungry through more efficient use of grains and other crops
- Save animals from suffering in factory-farm conditions and from the pain and terror of slaughter
- Conserve vital but limited freshwater, fertile topsoil and other precious resources
- Preserve irreplaceable ecosystems such as rainforests and other wildlife habitats
- Decrease greenhouse gases that are accelerating global
- Mitigate the ever-expanding environmental pollution of
(From the North American Vegetarian Society’s website)
And: Cutting out meat can significantly cut your risk of cancer. Cutting out other animal fats helps as well http://www.cancerproject.org/diet_cancer/facts/meat.php