Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Definition Please

Coming to the end of this little experiment tomorrow, I am having a lot of thoughts about what this all means to me. What change has this really promoted in my life. Was it worth it. What were my goals going into this and have they been satisfied. Why don't people use question marks when they state questions like this. I hope to answer these for myself here? (I have to work on my use of punctuation...)

As I have been saying in the past couple of posts, I hope to limit myself to chicken and fish after this is over. I can cut out red meat, that's fine. I won't miss bacon (though it smells incredible...) or ham. Turkey, duck, rabbit, guinea pig - those can be left alone (who eats guinea pig you ask? Ecuadorians. Freaks, I know. But they love it). Is that enough? On top of cutting my types of meat down from all to just two, I also think I will simply consume meat less. If I just substitute any opportunity for a hamburger with a veggie burger, is that enough? Probably not, though it is definitely a step in the right direction. If nothing else it would be a result. Going into this with only the goal of promoting some change in my dietary lifestyle, that would satisfy the goal. Tonight at dinner, looking at my brother's hamburger, pink in the middle, greasy yellow American cheese melted on top.. I actually cringed a bit. It looked gross to me. That's pretty significant. And means if nothing else I think I will opt for veggie burgers from now on. But more on that later.

So my question, implied by my title, is what is the definition of a vegetarian. For me it has always been someone who is strict, someone who doesn't eat meat, and maybe even someone who freaks out if they found out their vegetables were cut with a knife that was used last week to cut some chicken (wackos...err I mean no judging here). Regardless, a vegetarian is someone who NEVER eats meat, right? Well, if that's the definition, then according to an article I read, that comprises about 3% of US adults. However, if the definition includes someone who rarely eats meat, avoids it at almost all costs but may eat it if the situation calls for it, someone who wouldn't cook with it in their homes, but may eat it every once in a while - that definition includes about 10% of US adults, again according to the same article. Is that enough? Am I striving for 100% strict vegetarianism, and anything less is unsatisfactory? Or can their be small victories, steps in the right direction, or even inclusion of those not strictly vegetarian, but preferring that diet. Where is the line?

If I eat meat once a month - it just comes up, at a function or dinner I can't get around, there are no other options on the menu, or I slip up and eat it - am I considered a vegetarian? I think many people would say, yeah, probably. I mean, for 29 days out of the month you follow that diet, regardless of how "strict" you are overall, on any given day you are unlikely to even consider eating meat. Yes, that person is a vegetarian. But what about every 2 weeks. Ok, maybe a bit more frequent, but still 13 out of 14 days you are vegetarian, that's like 94%, pretty good. What about once a week? Twice a week? Where is the line.

I like to think that the most important thing is to be aware. Aware of where your food comes from, how it got to your plate, what it entailed for the animal or farmer, the butcher or mill worker, the packager and shipper. Who's life did your food affect. That's number one on my list. I want to be aware. Our food choices have system-wide implications, and I want to be aware. Beyond that I think any effort to change is valiant. Even if it means occasionally getting a veggie burger over a beef patty. That's still change. Or if it means swearing off meat for good; that's change. So maybe I shouldn't worry about definitions and be content cutting down my meat consumption and limiting my sources. Maybe that's good enough for now.

Tonight at Fuddrucker's with my family, my brother and Dad got regular burgers, while I convinced my Mom (an avid reader of the blog! hehe) to get a veggie burger with me (I had one yesterday in the airport too, also from Fuddrucker's). She liked it a lot. As did I of course. My brother tried it and said it was weird and gross. That's ok, maybe someday. At least he tried it, even though I gave him a hard time (thats what brothers do). Even if my Mom trying a veggie burger with me is the only change that comes from this blog, other than change for Alex and me, that's pretty cool.

Both Alex and I plan on eating turkey tomorrow. It will be weird after so long. I can't even imagine at this point how that will feel. Something that was so normal a month ago seems so.... wrong, now. Tomorrow is Alex's turn to blog, but due to the monumentous occasion of eating meat, ending the experiment, I think it's safe to say we will both be writing about that experience. I hope he gets a chance to write at some point tomorrow, even if no one is reading, but if not then await posts from both of us on Friday. Thank you all for reading as always. Comments are appreciated as this winds down.

Finally... Happy Thanksgiving to all of you! And while we all sit down and think about just how truly blessed we all are tomorrow, let us also think about where all of our food comes from. Its not enough to be thankful for the food we have if we do not consider where it came from. We are all lucky to have a place to be tomorrow, and a warm meal and great company. Let us think of those who are not so fortunate, while we contemplate our blessings.

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