Am I a Vegetarian, or am I Just Not Eating Meat?

Twenty six years ago (wow, that makes me sound really old) I was living in Michigan and attending Kalamazoo College.  Like many college students I was trying to sort out what was important to me and began cooking for myself and decided to become a vegetarian.  I guess I studied vegetarianism…I didn’t want to be unhealthy or give up too much.  I bought books and explored nutrition. I avoided any and all foods that had animal based contents including marshmallows and gummi bears (check out this video for the gory details https://youtu.be/HOYUYr8YQpU ) and eating out often meant french fries and salad.   I continued a vegetarian lifestyle until I was diagnosed with a B12 deficiency and started eating meat again in hopes of avoiding painful injections.  Sadly, I was unable to avoid the injections but became pretty comfortable with eating chicken, fish and carnitas!

Today, my precocious daughter is right where I was twenty six years ago and wants to become a vegetarian.  We were already eating meat products only once a week due to cost and concerns about food safety and I would be fine to proclaim my renewed vegetarianism however our freezer is still full of roasts!  Also, I am not sure how I feel about ‘isms.’  According to Merriam Webster’s dictionary the definition of ism is 1a distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory, 2an oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.  They also include this quote from Joycelyn Elders, “we all have got to come to grips with our isms.”  

Sooo… as a therapist and someone who values relationship over isms I am not sure how I feel about about passing up someone’s beautifully prepared meal because it contains meat.  I have also learned that being flexible (and patient) is invaluable, almost a super power.  So, am I a vegetarian or am I just not eating meat? In general my family eats three meals a day out of our kitchen and we are pretty selective about where we eat out.  Our feelings regarding how unnecessary it is to exploit animals for their protein strengthens every time we have a satisfying meal that is meat free. I dusted off my old (and dirty) cookbook collection and after about a month we stopped missing meat as the center of the meal.  I have a few “distinctive doctrines and theories” that shape my actions and now the groceries I buy.  I suspect we all do… but for now, I still have some roasts in the freezer (not that my daughter will eat them.)

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