Becoming a Vegetarian

I’m thinking of becoming a vegetarian again, hopefully with better results this time. A lot of Druids are, and there are a lot of obvious reasons why. If you want a lecture on why eating meat/animal products is bad for our environment and even for your body, you’ll have to go elsewhere. This time I want to do a personal rant. :)

Last time, I just jumped in with no real prep work or thought. I didn’t have many standby favorite veggies or methods of cooking them, and I ended up eating green salads (yawn), veggie burgers and “chik’n” patties, and other pre-packaged foods. I also didn’t discuss it to much with my other half, so we’d end up cooking two dinners, or I’d just have salad for dinner and end up being ravenous, etc.

I also became anemic after about six months, so just gave up.

This time I’m working harder. I’m reading some books. I have a number of veggie-only recipes I make regularly. I invested in a couple of good vegetarian cookbooks. But I’m still running into some problems.

1. Animal products are EVERYWHERE. I eat a yogurt a day. Every single day. I buy those delicious dessert flavored yogurts, and I absolutely adore the apple turnover flavor. But today I discovered that my yogurt is made with gelatin. Kosher gelatin, but gelatin all the same. And sadly, there’s no way to tell where that gelatin came from, but it’s most likely from animal bones.

Damn. Do I need to find new and probably more expensive–and less delicious–yogurt? And it’s not just yogurt–many basic side dishes like, say, Stove Top stuffing (I have Thanksgiving on my mind), are made with chicken bouillon. And if I’m a vegetarian, should I give up my leather purses? My beloved leather-covered journal? Am I a hypocrite for still wanting a matching leather cover for my Kindle?

It’s really hard to draw the line. I don’t want to be vegan. That would be too hard, for reasons I’ll get into below. How far does one have to go to really make a difference? I realize it’s a matter of personal choice, but what’s the best way to honor the Earth Mother and the Nature Spirits without becoming a sort of Earth Mother food-nun?

2. It’s hard to compromise with a meat-eating spouse.┬áMy husband-to-be is an adamant meat-eater. He has digestive issues, and too much fiber (read: fruits and veggies) upsets his stomach. I made him sick today by feeding him vegetarian potpie last night.

My first offer for compromise was to say we’ll just cook our dinner with meat and a non-meat option. For example, if we’re cooking a meat-and-potatoes meal, we’ll cook a steak for him and a hunk of seitan for me side-by-side. If he makes stir fry, he’ll add lots of extra veggies and I’ll avoid the meat. But the more I think about it, the less I want veggies cooked with chicken fat.

I don’t want to cook two separate dinners again. If I did all the cooking, sure, but I can’t ask him to cook me a separate meal on his kitchen nights. Plus, it seems wasteful to cook two individual dinners. My original plan was to just avoid eating flesh, but still eating broths or gelatin or whatever. But that seems like not enough, as I described above.

The best thing I’ve come up with is this: When I cook, I’ll cook something vegetarian, but I’ll grill him some chicken or whatever to go with it. (I don’t mind doing that for him.) My main dish can be his side dish. When he cooks, he’ll make an effort to cook more vegetables, either as a side or as a part of the meal. His side dish will be my main dish. We’ll try to keep the meat cooked separately.

Anyone have any suggestions? What’s the best way for an herbivore and an omnivore to cohabitate?