Posted by: Jill | April 3, 2009

What does it mean to be a vegetarian?

I stopped eating meat about two and half years ago, mostly.  I say “mostly” because my definition of vegetarianism is somewhat loose.  My friends joke that I’m “the worst vegetarian ever”: I avoid chicken and hamburgers, but still lust after bacon and recently dug into a meal of beef heart from a local farm.  Yum!  Because I rarely eat meat, it becomes a treat for special occasions, and I can afford to buy high quality meat from local farms that take good care of their animals, their land, and their communities.

People base their diets on a number of factors, including health, personal belief, preference, and culture.  The basic guiding principle of my mostly-vegetarian diet is: Be Good to the Planet, though each of those other factors also play a role.  Labeling myself as a vegetarian is just an easy way to generally explain my eating habits without getting into the nitty gritty of things.

Another factor that is important to me is locally-appropriate dining.  When I travel, eating local food is a great way to understand the culture of a new place.  It’s also (usually) a good way to Be Good to the Planet because authentic regional cuisine tends to be based on the resources that are plentiful in that location.  My diet shifts with my location: fruit, conch and goat in The Bahamas; mangos, fish and rice in the Philippines; lobster in Maine; shellfish, salmon, and seasonal produce in Seattle.

This week, I’m visiting my sister in Kansas City, MO.  Americans may argue technicalities, but KC has some of the best barbeque in the country.  I doubt if I’ll ever eat bbq in Seattle, but the first night I arrived here I enjoyed a huge plate of brisket.  I’m saving up my meat appetite for another excellent meal of burnt ends ‘n ribs tomorrow: the Worst Vegetarian Ever strikes again!


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