Half-ass vegetarianism

Excuse the title of this post. I tried to think of something more savory to all ears, but this was the most accurate wording.

Over the past few months, I’ve been going back and forth about our decision to go vegetarian. I’ve never had any doubt that given a little extra time, we’ll be able to easily come up with lots of vegetarian meals that we love. Dexter’s as strongly convinced about our change as I am…and sometimes even more than I am. I’m not even really concerned about wanting to eat meat, although that has entered my head a few times.

Mostly, I’m concerned about offending, distancing, or inconveniencing from other people. What if our neighbors in Hawkeye Court want to share a traditional Korean/Chinese/Romanian/something meal with us that has meat in it? What if we go visit Korea when our friends return home and their sweet Korean mothers fix us a delicious but beefy meal? What about house church meals? (If we made every dish so that everyone could eat them, we would be a no dairy, no gluten, no meat house church. What a challenge!) What about people we see and eat with a lot, like my parents, who are still scrambling to feed my sister meat-free meals when she’s home.

One possible compromise we’re considering is being “at-home vegetarians.” Basically, food we make or choose to eat at restaurants would be vegetarian. And, in settings where meat can be avoided without stepping on any toes, we’d choose extra meat-free side dishes in lieu of a meaty main dish. But, we wouldn’t feel pressure to abstain when there was pressure to eat, like with new friends or in non-vegetarian friendly environments.

Part of me likes this solution because I think moderation is good. And I know that I’m compromising on so many other levels that I feel like the occasional meat-eating would fall under the category of buying milk from farms I don’t know anything about, or buying products from brands like Johnson & Johnson, Colgate, or Suave (all of which test on animals). It really bothers me that I can’t afford to switch to using entirely cruelty-free products, but I’ve been telling myself I have to draw the line somewhere.

However, the other part of me doesn’t want to be a half-ass vegetarian. The vegetarian fad really irritates me. I’ve definitely seen people say, “I never eat meat!” while shoveling their faces with it. I don’t feel like I could really call myself a vegetarian if I was okay with it sometimes, but I don’t know how I’d explain my mostly meat-free lifestyle very easily if I totally avoided the terminology.

Whatever compromise we land with, at least at home we’ll be lacto-ovo-style vegetarians. But, we’ll try to eat cage-free/free-range eggs at home and be picky about our milk (although the milk may end up being frighteningly expensive in itself). No meat-based broths, gelatin, or sneaky bits of meat in convenience foods either. The plan is to start soon, and I’ve actually been cooking mostly vegetarian meals the past few weeks, but I feel like I can’t commit till I’ve decided about where to draw the line.

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4 thoughts on “Half-ass vegetarianism

  1. You definitely have hit on some good thoughts in your preparation! I do not like to “put people out” with my eating habits and a lot of that is because they don’t necessarily know how to appropriately accomodate. I generally do not label myself as a vegetarian. My words are “I don’t eat meat”. Mainly I do this because I do eat fish and therefore it’s not fair to people who are really vegetarain to put myself in the same category.Take is as a process and learn to bring your own food places. Because the rest of my family eats meat, it’s only me that has to be accomodating. If we go to someone’s house, I offer to bring my own veggie burger with me.For house church meals, my rule is that I bring something that I will eat and hope that others will enjoy it as well or do bring my own dish that is similar to what others are eating. There become times when I eat very poorly (deserts are vegetarian) at functions or not very much because there isn’t much for me to eat. (That’s how we found out that Andrew couldn’t handle lactose when he was two weeks old.)Start thinking about carrying food with you more often. It’s good preparation for being a parent at some point!

  2. Hey, Kelsey, it’s Anne! Here are my thoughts on your post:This was definitely something I struggled with when becoming vegetarian, and honestly, I still do struggle with it. Luckily my family (including extended family) has been very accommodating…but I always get stressed out when going to eat somewhere new, especially if someone is offering to make me a home cooked meal. Buddhist monks tend to all be considered vegetarian; however, they will not turn down meat if it is offered to them. They believe that being grateful for the offering takes precedence in a situation like that. I thought that was interesting when I learned it, and it gave me some pause about my own practice of turning down meat when it is offered to me. I think the practice of not buying meat, but not turning it down when others make it for you, is a totally legitimate route to take. I would not call that half-assed. :)Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?) for me, I really can’t eat meat anymore (physically), so I have to be a little more firm. In my experience, I’ve really never had someone react negatively, even if I have felt guilty about being an inconvenience. Usually, if someone is wanting to cook food for you or welcome you into their home, I’ve found that they are happy to make you feel comfortable. Maybe your experience would be different, but I thought I’d share! Good luck with whatever you decide, and just remember that every little bit that you do to support alternatives to animal cruelty helps—you don’t have to do it all! 🙂

  3. 🙂 This post made me smile. I totally know where you’re coming from, because these are things that I frequently consider in my waffling over “going veg”. Mike is definitely concerned about me not being able to accept food offered to me as a guest, or at house church, and it’s a concern of mine as well. I’m sad that we are not in the same house church anymore. I added meat to a normally vegetarian meal this Sunday because I didn’t think anyone else but me would eat it 🙂 I would really like to be able to switch to all organic, locally grown, cruelty-free, etc etc products, but the cost is too much. And I still shop at Wal-Mart because it’s cheap and convenient and I’m poor. I think it’s important to make efforts to do what you can, but not have excessive guilt about doing what you have to. It’s a fine line.

  4. Pingback: Homemade Marshmallows « Mrs. Dexter

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