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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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.ย My 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?

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5 thoughts on “Becoming a Vegetarian

  1. I think your main dish/side dish swap out sounds like a decent work around for the cohabitation issue.

    As far as the gelatin in the yogurt, I have a question that will probably sound combative, even though I don’t mean it that way. If you’re not going full-out Vegan, does the gelatin really matter that much? Unless you’re eating some kind of fancy happy cow pasture grass grazed organic yogurt, the lives of the dairy cows that produce your yogurt are pretty darned bleak. If you can eat dairy from cows enslaved in factory conditions, a little gelatin isn’t much of a leap to me. Please understand that I say this from the position of someone eating an omnivore diet at the moment, so I really don’t mean to be heaping judgment on you or anything.

    The whole not eating meat alone is huge, IMO, and not at all easy to do in our society. And humane dairy is very had to come by and out of a lot of our budgets. I think we do what we can, be aware of the layers of issues behind our choices and move on. I think if you can rationalize dairy and leather, the gelatin isn’t that big of a deal. Maybe one day you’ll decide that you can’t abide those rationalizations, but if you can now, there’s nothing at all wrong or hypocritical about it. We’re none of us set upon any path 100% perfectly aligned. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • That’s a very good point, and part of what I’m struggling with!

      I think I’m just going to have to accept gelatin and dairy for now, even though I AM a little squeamish about the rationalization. It’s not perfect, but I’ll be happy enough just not eating flesh!

      It does seem impossible–or at least very, very difficult–to completely avoid animal products.

  2. Hello Greywren. Glad to see you’re going to give it a try again! I’ve been a vegetarian for some variety for over ten years now. Here are some thoughts you might find helpful.

    1) Don’t feel overwhelmed with guilt. I know it’s hard sometimes but you need to celebrate your baby steps. If that means eating fish on weekends or having gelatin in your yogurt, then that’s that. Going cold turkey is not recommended. It’s difficult and not exactly healthy if you’re not informed – as you discovered! Gradually move towards a more vegetarian lifestyle if that is indeed what you want. In the end, diet is very personal. It’s between you, the Nature Spirits, the Earth Mother, and your family. Nobody else really matters, right?

    2) Gelatin is a bitch. I remember being so crushed when I found out about that… Goodbye marshmallows, jello, most yogurt… What kills me is that most yogurt in Europe, even if they’re the same brands in the US, don’t contain it! Stonyfield makes a really great yogurt which is made of dairy *and* is vegetarian. My most recent annoyance has been learning about isinglass and rennet. Isinglass comes from fish and is used in a lot of booze. I only drink alcohol that I know is made without it. Guinness Extra Stout, and only that in North America, is vegetarian. You’ll have to check out Barnivore if you’d like to find some wine. I’ve found a lot of local wineries and breweries are vegetarian! Rennet is in cheese and often comes from calf stomachs (a byproduct of the veal industry). Hubby and I stopped consuming that (and whey) about a year ago. There are still a lot of cheeses that don’t contain it – like Cabbot and McAdams. If that concerns you, look for cheese that contains microbial or vegetable rennet. If it doesn’t bother you, or if you’re not ready to be so strict, don’t let it guilt you. I just wanted to inform you because not many vegetarians realize that. More annoyingly, most restaurants don’t either and serve “vegetarian” dishes made with cheese that actually uses calf stomach!

    3) Don’t get rid of things you already own. You have them and treasure them. In my opinion, it would be disrespectful to the animal the leather came from to toss them. You could give them away, but they’re already yours and you like them. You clearly respect them and understand. Give an offering to their spirits, perhaps.

    Best of luck! I’m always willing to talk about it in a non-judgemental way. We have to stick together!

  3. Also, here are some of my favorite super easy, super healthy veggie standbys –

    Stir fries (with healthier oils). You could always cook meat separately and your mate could combine them when ready.

    Veggie chili

    Taco night. Again, prepare meat separately and then you could have yummy mushed beans.

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