Thursday, September 1, 2011

Changing perspectives: Food.

What do you think of when you hear the word vegetarian? How about vegan?

Depending on your relationship to food, or animals, people will have a wide variety of answers to that question. The question can also be posed this way:

What do you think of when you hear the word carnivore?

I can't answer those questions for everyone, but I can tell you what I think:
- There are less-than-ideal conditions in some slaughter houses,
- Cruelty to animals is a reality (either through living conditions or slaughtering practices),
- You can't know about cruelty/slaughtering practices from looking at the meat, so it's difficult to know what you're supporting through your purchases,
- Animals which are used to produce dairy, even if not slaughtered for their meat, can also lead horrible lives,
- and finally, raising animals for meat-production for the growing global population is not sustainable and produces huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

There are other reasons but from those listed above, it's not hard to see why people are opting to be vegetarian or vegan these days.

Yet I found myself wrestling with this choice... (this is going to sound really lame) but I love bacon and salami. I could sacrifice steak no problem, I'd pretty much given up chicken in 2005 (though that was more of a phobia) and I never actually purchased meat to cook at home because I didn't really know how to cook it (though I did buy it frozen or processed somehow). But the fact of that matter was, I was still in no way vegetarian. And then I saw this video...

Graham Hill: Why I'm a weekday vegetarian | Video on

The idea is very simple: meat used to be part of a diet consisting of many other things, but over the course of the past few decades, it's become the main event. As the earth's population continues to grow, this rising trend is not sustainable. So instead of giving up meat forever, a choice which is not desirable for some, nor imaginable for others, people can decide to consume less meat. In this case, it means eating a vegetarian diet from Monday to Friday, and consuming meat only on weekends.

I've been doing this for over a year now and I can say, it's working out really well. I first started off exactly as Graham described in the video, eating vegetarian food from Monday to Friday and having some meat on the weekends. Then some weekends, I wouldn't have meat at all (because I learned I could easily live without it), while some weekdays I opted for some meat... it has since become a flexible guideline rather than a rule. I am still too ashamed to call myself a vegetarian because I know I am not one, but something should be said for people making conscious choices towards more sustainable living as well.

So give it some thought. Whether it's trying out weekday veg., having one vegetarian meal a day or a week to start out, there are an endless number of possibilities which you can tailor for yourself. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas!


  1. That's a sensitive topic. I am not a vegetarian either but straggling with these kinds of ideas. Well, in our home we've discussed much about whether the meat is or not needed in our diet, so if we can survive without it. And also how healthy is the meat we have available on the market.

    From a health perspective, meat is probably the worst choice one can make. Animals growing with hormones for fast growth, injected with antibiotics, and then, when processed, the meat is again injected with preservatives and other staff.

    Since we haven't concluded anything about the role of meat in nutrition, we decided to reduce meat in out diet. I don't have any rules for when I do and do not eat meat, but I reduced meat considerably. I eat vegetarian meals very frequently and when cooking, I use small pieces. There are days when I eat completely vegetarian and I have no problems with that.

    When it comes to other animal products, that's even more difficult. I am not sure I can cook without eggs or yogurt, although some people do it...

  2. Hey Oana,
    I'm really happy to hear your opinions on this post. I think you make some good points about diet and food-related decision-making... and you hit the nail right on the head when talking about reducing meat consumption. In my opinion, whether you eat it every day or once a month, the key is just to eat less of it, without necessary giving up on stuff you like, or don't want to give up.

    As for going vegan, I have a similar mind block. I think eggs, milk and yogurt are great and I can't see myself not eating them either. But this is what I've done so far: I buy all my eggs directly from farmers or shops which bring them from their farms. I guess at this point I have the feeling those are better than what you see in the stores, to be sure, you can always ask about the chicken.

    As for yogurt, I either buy it in a carton (to avoid the plastic) or I really love the Yosa yogurt (which comes in plastic which is why I've cut down recently). It's a vegan yogurt that I tried once just to see what it was like but ended up really loving the taste. I've tried others and I didn't really like them like this one, so then when I was buying vegan yogurt, it actually ended up being for the taste and not the vegan-ness :D