Lisa Simpson, the vegetarianI was recently asked about being a vegetarian and how to become one. The person who asked me had just seen the documentary “Eating” and was subsequently appalled at the meat industry. I have not seen this documentary yet,  but I’m sure I can imagine the content and depictions enough that I’m still glad I’m a vegetarian. I grapple with calling myself a vegetarian though, and maybe more appropriately called a “flexitarian” as I eat turkey about once a year, local buffalo about 4 times a year, and fish about 4 times a year. It’s a funny thing though to be able to count how many times one has eaten meat. I have chosen not to eat (much) meat now for the last 18 years and my reasons are both personal and physiological. I remember when I made the decision not to eat meat though: I was 15 or 16, had just eaten a MacDonald’s hamburger. I then saw cows in a pasture and subsequently peered into  a cow’s eyes and therefore saw the soul of the animal itself. No, it wasn’t an out of body experience, it just happened. And then it happened with sheep (I used to like lamb when I was a child) – the cool black liquid eyes of the ewe were gently connecting and understanding. And, it’s all progressed from there. Oh, also, I never enjoyed eating meat and would pick it out or refuse to eat it, even as a young child. I think I’m physiologically programmed to be an herbivore.

So, what do I eat? I’m not a vegan, but one of my favorite restaurants in Fort Collins, CO offers vegan and vegetarian cuisine: Tasty Harmony. Eating at vegetarian restaurants is a great way to be introduced to the fine points of vegetarian delights. I eat tons of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, eggs, cheese, legumes and beans, and raw milk, yogurt and kefir. Being vegetarian has been especially easy and wonderful for the past 2 years as joined a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) through Grant Family Farms in Wellington, CO. They deliver all across the state. We also get our milk through a raw milk dairy share in Northern CO. They have free range chickens and eggs too. It’s really great because you drive up to pick up the milk and see chickens running around and you just know they’re happy with the freedom, just as a chicken’s life on a farm should be.  Books that inspired me to eat back on the land are The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food both by author Michael Pollan. I’ve blogged about this before, but The Omnivore’s Dilemma completely opened my eyes wide to the modern food industry and I completely changed how I eat as a result.

So, how does one become a vegetarian? It’s both a choice and some a little applied work. A vegetarian has to be sure they are getting enough protein and amino acids, not eating too much sugar and simple carbs, and always having a good variety and quantity of plant-based foods on hand to make selection and cooking easier. It’s also very useful to have a good collection of vegetarian cookbooks on hand and online recipe resources available. I also think a new vegetarian would benefit from talking with a nutritionist, dietitian, or nutrition therapist, to make sure a healthy balance is being met. It would also be good to find a class or workshop on vegetarian cooking. Meeting with other vegetarian friends is also a great resource and creates a support network.

With that, some of my favorite resources on vegetarianism include:

  • Vegetarian Times (magazine) and on the web
  • Vegetarian Times has a neat Vegetarian Starter Kit too
  • The New Laurel’s Kitchen by Laurel Robertson
  • The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To A Healthy Vegetarian Diet by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis
  • Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
  • The Everything Vegetarian Cookbook: 300 Healthy Recipes Everyone Will Enjoy (Everything Series) by Jay Weinstein
  • Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe
  • Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe and Anna Lappé

Oh, but there are so many vegetarian cookbooks available – check at your local library or bookstore, or online at Amazon or Powells or any other book resource. If you have a favorite vegetarian cookbook, or online recipe resource, I’d love to hear about it. Post a comment here or send me an email at greycatblog[at]gmail.com.

I’ve also been thinking about reading this book: The Bloodless Revolution: A Cultural History of Vegetarianism: From 1600 to Modern Times by Tristram Stuart. Since I’m on the ReBooWee plan, I’ll just add this to my list. I wonder if reading a cookbook a week will count for the ReBooWee plan?  🙂

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