Becoming Veggie

IMG_4602I’ve written before of my lifelong curiosity about vegetarianism. It started when I read E.B. White’s childhood classic Charlotte’s Web. Suddenly, every pig became Wilbur. Every piece of bacon was Wilbur. Why would I want to eat Wilbur? Of course, I was a child, and ate what was put in front of me. That bacon looked nothing like Wilbur, so I could eventually dissociate it from him (even if later I couldn’t bring myself to eat the full-formed roast pig served at my friend’s Filipino wedding, or seafood that still had eyes and legs, etc.)

Over time, my awareness about American factory farming grew – dramatically so in recent years. Most of the pigs I was eating led lives so drastically unlike the farmland pleasantries described in Charlotte’s Web, that Wilbur’s life seemed downright cushy and his fate almost less depressing. My affinity towards animal protection and rights in general was growing every day. Before long, I was avoiding veal, lamb, foie gras, and lobster. I swore off circuses, Sea World, and fur (not that I’ve ever owned fur anyway.) I eliminated my hair/makeup/personal hygiene stash and replaced them with cruelty-free products, and even took a baby step against the sketchy dairy industry by consuming almond milk instead of cow’s milk. The natural next step was to at least reduce my dependence on meat.

Still, this was a daunting prospect. I grew up with meat. I like meat! It’s what I know, and it’s delicious. I don’t truly think eating meat is immoral, but the meat industry, as we know it today, is immoral. I couldn’t ignore that much longer, as the conviction in me continued to grow. I just had no idea how to start, especially on my own. But that’s where my lovely husband comes in…

When Chuck and I were in Taipei, enjoying his birthday dinner and plentiful glasses of wine, we agreed to try clean eating and vegetarianism for a month. I was surprised that Chuck was the one to bring it up. He works out frequently and loves his protein, so I blamed the booze for his suggestion in that particular instance. But the next day, when he was free from the influence of alcoholic beverages, he brought it up again. He said he knew it was of growing importance to me, and he wanted to get on a healthy track after the holidays himself, so why not combine our ambitions for the next month, together? When we got home on his actual birthday – despite my insistence that we could start another time and grill a large steak in celebration of his day – he made us a yummy vegetable quiche. In the weeks since, we have worked together to make delicious, nutritious, easy, and unique meals that we otherwise would never have tried. I really couldn’t have done it without Chuck to help get me started.

We are about finished with week 3 of 4, and I haven’t missed meat in the slightest! Well, I take that back. I miss fish. Specifically, I miss tuna sandwiches. But I have barely flinched at the rest. Chuck will probably return to carnivorous eating, but I think I will go pescetarian. That shouldn’t be too hard, here in Okinawa!

That said, I never want to press my lifestyle on anyone else. I’ll eat whatever is served at social events, and at restaurants, I may indulge in a meat-oriented specialty on occasion. But I will not purchase and cook meat for myself again. Especially not my darling Wilbur.

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