Wednesday, November 3, 2010

To Meat or Not To Meat

Dietary choices are a hot topic in our family, and I'll tell you why. We have been vegetarians for a long time now. While we have eaten occasional meals of sea food, we have not touched pork, beef or poultry. At home, this is easy and very few people question it. In fact, many of our friends and extended family members are also vegetarians. It is a very easily defined parameter in which to create a meal. In the past year, however, we have begun to introduce very small quantities of locally-raised meat into our diets. This, it turns out, is even harder to explain when we are out and about. At the vast majority of restaurants, it is easy--we order vegetarian. At most friends' houses, it is also easy to explain and we know who among our friends only serve local foods and who does not. When we are with friends who do not, we simply eat vegetarian fare. Simple. But for some, it isn't as simple anymore.

So what do you do when faced with the inevitable discussion about meat in general? Trying to explain that there IS a difference between store-bought meat and locally raised meat just makes us sound elitist. Understand that I'm not judging you for eating store-bought meat. Really! If you fully understand where your meat comes from and are okay with that--great! I don't happen to be okay with that for my family. You make your choices and I'll make mine. But, in the same way that I'm really, really, really, not judging you, I would hope for the same courtesy. Shrugging me off as snobby or just plain silly is annoying. But I digress...

Fast forward to tonight. We are going to a really cool medieval dinner theater. We will see jousting, sword play, horses, court jesters...and we'll have a genuine medieval meal (there is no menu...they just serve the dinner). Guess what? There weren't many vegetarian choices in the 1100's. Of course, as Erin pointed out, "If it is a REAL medieval experience, the meat HAS to be pasture raised and local. It HAS to be!" (She's right, of course, but I'm guessing this place isn't THAT authentic.) So I asked Chris what he would do (he isn't here with me) and he agreed it is a problem. I will fully acknowledge to anyone who wants me to that I don't believe it would hurt me. I know it would be safe and "fine" and all of that. But at what price? How deeply do I believe in the values I'm raising my kids with (answer: VERY deeply)? If I eat it, what do I tell them (values are only good at home when it is convenient?? Where do I draw the line (no store-bought meat except at dinner theaters? what about regular restaurants?)? What if they want to eat it? Erin can make her own choices, I've no doubt about that. She knows the facts and I trust her judgement. Megan is getting there...but I don't think I want her making a choice in the heat of the moment, you know? Evan is only 20 months old. I'll be making his decision, thank you very much.

What we will probably do is eat healthy food before we go and then fill up on the soup (tomato bisque) and cheese and bread. Because, when it comes down to it and I have a piece of meat on my fork...I really don't think I could put it in my mouth.

Are you a vegetarian? Do you eat local meat? Would you consider local meat occasionally? Am I nuts to think it isn't just about the meat but about how the meat was raised and where it came from? (Answer: no, I'm not nuts, but I guess I'm trying to argue away the "just this once" voice that is talking to me....I hate that voice!)


  1. aimee i don't have an answer to your blog question . . . but i wanted to comment that your struggle is very close to what religious parents go through when trying to teach their children their values: for example saying grace before every meal wether in public or at home . . . you have to do what you believe is right every time or there will be room for your children to doubt your commitment. some people will understand. some will not. some will juge. so be it.

  2. i meant to add: believe what you say, say what you mean, and do what you say - and your children will hopefully do the same for whatever they believe

  3. I admire you for sticking to your convictions.

    I also envy you your like-minded husband...