Thursday, March 25, 2010

Veggie Might: I Want to Be Tofu Butcher

Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.

Last night there was a vegetarian quorum in my living room: two lacto/ovo vegetarians, one vegan, and one omnivore (who had once been a vegetarian). We voted a moratorium on the question, “So, will you ever eat meat again?”

BA mentioned she was coming up on her 17-year vegan anniversary and that people still asked her that question. We all nodded in sympathy. “They may as well ask if I’d ever eat wood.”

Well, according to the trend piece Flesh Mob in the New York Press, it’s not such a crazy question. Apparently, the bacon craze and conscious carnivorism has vegetarians abandoning their previously held convictions and signing up for butchering classes and joining CSAs for the grass-fed beef—really getting back to the land.

“People were encouraged to avoid meat with scary PETA videos and horror stories about factory farming, but these days, newly carnivorous New Yorkers are able to cushion their consciousnesses with locally grown, free range and all-around-happy meat.”

I found the claim that vegetarians are lining up to become butchers quite disingenuous. Whatever their reasons for becoming vegetarian, none of my current veg-head friends would dream of consuming meat just because it’s de rigueur.

Most former veggies I know, including BH of our living room quorum, made the switch after some soul searching and for myriad reasons, including access and convenience, love (of another human)—and nearly all of them eat meat sparingly.

Plus, I thought people were catching onto the idea that a little meat goes a long way. What happened to being a flexitarian to improve one’s health, bank balance, and environment?

A 2009 Vegetarian Resource Group Poll put the nation’s vegetarian numbers at about 3%, up from 2% in 2006. Even my sister, whose husband hunts and fishes, and a pair of dear friends and avowed omnis are giving part-time vegetarianism a try.

Food is deeply personal, and increasingly, has become moral and political. I am not questioning people’s decision to eat what they choose and live as they believe is right. (I have lots of omni friends!) My beef (har) is with the framing of the story: that vegetarianism is a “phase” we’ll all get over when we grow up—an get a good whiff of frying bacon.

Maybe wood pulp and poly-cotton will be the next big thing. BA and I are on board, since they’re vegan.

Readers, what about you? Are you vegetarian, vegan, part-time vegetarian, or conscious carnivore? Would anything make you change your diet? How do you balance your ethics with your grocery bill? Is food a moral issue in your household? Let ‘er rip in the comments.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr member FantasyFan.)

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