Sunday, October 17, 2010

There's a name for people like me....

As Husband No. 1 tells the tale, we were mid-meal when I looked down at the dinner he had prepared and announced: "I can't eat this -- I don't eat red meat."

This declaration apparently came as a great surprise to my family, especially HN1. As he noted in our holiday letter that year, no such aversion to meat, red or any other kind, had been expressed during the preceding 25 years of marriage. However, you'd think he'd be used to unexpected declarations by now.

In my defense, I had been considering the red meat issue for some time. I guess I just forgot to mention it to the people living with me, including the person who cooks the majority of our meals. When my family asked why I was adopting this new lifestyle, I explained that owning a dog had changed my view.

"You're doing this because of Buddy?" asked an incredulous No. 1 son. "I really don't think he cares, Mom."

No. 1 son also was incredulous several months later when I noted the waitress taking our lunch order seemed perplexed and reluctant when I ordered my vegetarian burger "western style" with barbecue sauce -- and bacon.

"That's because you're the world's worst vegetarian," he said as he bit into his burger.

OK, so I'm not a strict vegetarian. I'll admit to a longtime addiction to Five Guys hamburgers (even driving over 80 miles to eat one), as well as a fondness for bacon and shellfish. But I've given up every other kind of meat, because spending so much time with a dog has heightened my awareness that animals can think and reason, and develop individual personalities. I am reluctant to eat creatures with these capabilities.

Even chickens have personalities, according to people who raise them. Yes, I know, so do pigs and the cows used to supply Five Guys. I feel really bad about that. Fortunately, I haven't seen any studies or YouTube videos that indicate shrimp, clams, and scallops are in this category but if I have missed this disturbing news, please do tell me.

So what am I? I can't honestly call myself vegetarian, although the majority of my diet is vegetable-based. And I'll never be a vegan because I love cheese too much (and cheese doesn't kill anything other than possibly some humans who've succumbed to cholesterol-related issues).

Fortunately, I have discovered that my semi-vegetarianism is not all that unusual and there's a name for people like me -- Flexitarian!

That means we're flexible vegetarians, according to experts like the Mayo Clinic. And we're so trendy that cookbooks are being written for us.

To quote a September 2008 Newsweek article: "It might seem like being a vegetarian of convenience isn't particularly inspiring, but a growing number of experts and even some famous foodies are fans. They say that cutting back on meat, rather than abstaining completely, may be a practical compromise that benefits our bodies and our environment."

Flexible? Trendy? Practical? And doing good for the environment? These are labels I don't mind having. They sound so much better than "world's worst vegetarian."

1 comment:

MaxWriter said...

I pretty much eat that way, too. I do take a bite of a rib-eye steak now and then, but then I give the rest away to the real meat eater at the table. It's so easy to put together a big stew with beans and pasta and lots of vegetables (plus a little cheese on top, of course), or do a southwestern meal featuring tortillas and fish.

Even my sister, who never did go back to meat after we were all vegetarians in college, eats a piece of salmon now and then. A nutritionist told her she needed the high-quality protein.