Friday, September 18, 2009

On being vegetarian

Okay, I feel like I need to revisit my reason for starting to blog. I have several personal objectives: I want to be healthier, eat less processed food, hone my cooking skills, find recipes I can make and share with (non-vegetarian) family and friends. Honestly, and perhaps this is something I should not admit, I can't think of another part of my life that is as consistently pleasurable as food. I love getting excited about a really good meal, I love cooking and trying new things, I really love going to restaurants and sandwich shops.

Beyond those personal goals, I'm a little concerned with the image vegetarians have among non-vegetarians. I have a few examples, starting with this "Food Threshold" grid I found on recipe writer Dana MaCauley's blog. This chart basically oversimplifies the reasons that people may have for eating -- or not eating -- various foods and the entire hierarchy starts with frutarian (lowest) to monkey brains (highest). She's basically saying you can't be adventurous if you don't eat animals. So, I'm a five. I like that the veggie options are all in green.

In planning a large catered dinner party, I inquired about vegetarian food. The caterer replied, "don't worry, there will be plenty of food." As in, vegetarians are welcome to fill up on side dishes which may or may not have meat seasoning -- don't ask.

Something else that's a real bummer is when I was out recently with a group of friends, and a few of us were vegetarians. One person mentioned that she used to be vegetarian but resumed eating meat because there were too few choices. As my first example illustrates, that can certainly be a problem depending on who you eat with, the places you go, and (sadly) the availability of vegetarian products in your grocery store. It's even worse when your restuarant advertises lobster bisque and pasta with chicken reduction as vegetarian-friendly. Daveed's, what were you thinking?

Sidenote: I mentioned the company of an eating partner. I am very lucky that the only meat in my house is the cat food. My husband and I enjoy trying new vegetarian foods together, and part of my personal challenge in this blog is to make new foods we both enjoy and keep our meals interesting.

You've probably seen the dearth of vegetarian meals when you view cooking shows on television, whether it's Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen or other Gordon Ramsay shows, or anything on the Food Network. Some of the most exciting cuisine, we're told, is far from the pigs, cows, and chickens most people eat. The idea of anything vegetarian winning or pleasing a crowd? Preposterous! Can a vegetarian even really be a foodie? Probably not.

Finally, on a comical note, I have a ludicrous comment from a friend of mine. She says that her husband eats vegetarian only during hunting season because he thinks the deer can smell him better if he eats meat.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points. I was a pesco-vegetarian for a long time (not really vegetarian, I know, but I ate all veggie 90 percent of the time -- I never gave up fish because I love it). I reintroduced poultry many years ago because of the lack of options at home and at restaurants. Very recently, because of C., I have started eating a tiny bit of pork again.
    Still, I would like to continue to eat vegetarian as often as possible (mostly for health reasons) and I applaud you for taking the time to seek out and create some creative options. I am truly enjoying your blog.