Brightest Blue did a post the other day about being a fairly new vegetarian and the many ethical questions that she’s faced since making that decision: If killing animals for meat is wrong, how does she justify wearing leather? And so on.
One of her commenters said:
I could never be a vegetarian although I would like to be but I know I’d end up living off of french fries and bagels.
It always amazes me how many people say they’d like to be vegetarian, but couldn’t. Or people say they’d love to be vegetarians but their spouse isn’t one so it would be impossible. Like it’s some sort of insurmountable feat like becoming an Olympic athlete.
It’s really very simple. I’m pretty sure the commenter above doesn’t just live on french fries, bagels and meat. There are probably a few vegetables, beans, eggs, cheeses and other non-dead-animal related foods in her diet.
Becoming vegetarian is not an overnight magical transformation where one day you’re at The Keg sawing into a bloody sirloin and the next day you’re gnawing on seaweed and brown rice.
And there is no secret society of vegetarians that lay down a list of rules about how to be a vegetarian. People get all discombobulated when they hear I sometimes eat fish. “But, but, but…are you allowed to eat fish if you’re a vegetarian?”
I’m allowed to eat anything I want, just like everyone else. No one will march into my home and revoke my vegetarian membership if I eat eggs or cheese or go to The Keg and sit at the same table as someone who’s sawing through a bloody sirloin.
Of course not all vegetarians could handle that. And not all eat eggs and/or dairy or fish. We’re all different. Just like real people. We all like and dislike different foods. We come in all shapes and sizes – not all of us are thin and pale, some of us are hearty and robust.
We’ve all stopped eating meat for different reasons. Some of us actually like the taste of meat, but don’t eat it because we don’t like the idea of having to kill something for a momentary taste sensation. That’s why we enjoy the occasional meat substitute. Non-vegetarians often laugh at that. “If you don’t like meat, why are you having a burger that has the look, taste and texture of meat?”
Some people become vegetarians because they don’t like the whole idea of meat and can’t even stand meat substitutes. Some become vegetarians for health reasons. Some for environmental reasons. Some vegetarians (vegans) will not consume, wear or use anything that in any way caused the death or exploitation of animals or any other living creature. That includes not wearing leather or wool and not eating honey.
So if you think you’d like to follow a vegetarian diet, don’t just give up on the idea because it seems too overwhelming. Start by giving up meat one or two days a week. (And yes, Mother, cold cuts, bacon and chicken soup all contain meat. My mother claims she rarely eats meat, but to her meat is a roast beef dinner or Swiss Chalet. All that other stuff doesn’t really count).
You don’t have to start eating tofu every day if it doesn’t appeal to you. (But you might change your mind when you read the results of The Great Tofu Challenge which will, I’m sure be posted next week on Zoom and/or Hella Stella’s blog and/or maybe even here.)
There are plenty of protein-rich foods for vegetarians to eat. We don’t just live on vegetables and tofu. Check out some veggie cookbooks. Check out some online vegetarian/vegan recipes. Go to a vegetarian restaurant and try some of the food. Places like the Green Door or the Table in Ottawa are great because you get to try a little bit of everything that looks good to you and the ingredients are listed for everything. Same deal with Le Commensal in Toronto or Montreal.
And remember, at no time are you irrecoverably committed to never eating meat again. Maybe you’ll go veg except for the Thanksgiving turkey or the odd Big Mac or the neighbour’s annual summer pig roast. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing is all I’m saying. Feel free to dabble.
 At some point Zoom declared that she hated tofu. Hella Stella maintained that was only because she had never tasted tofu properly prepared. The bet was on. Hella Stella has invited Zoom and a few neutral parties to a favourite restaurant on Friday the 13th to taste the best tofu ever. If Zoom likes it she has to post a video of herself doing something embarrassing or acrobatic and if Zoom hates it then Hella Stella has to post such a video. Stay tuned.