I used to be very cruel about vegetarianism. I harassed my poor uncle all through my childhood. My mother always ate the least meat in the family and I am sure I teased her about it. My sister made the decision to stop eating meat in her mid-teens. I used to wave bacon in her face. This was all back in the days when I considered vegetables to be the enemy. They were alien strangers with bizarre colours and textures. Meant for hamsters or rabbits, not for human consumption.
My own personal food revolution changed all of that. I had already grown up a lot by that point. Or at least I had stopped harassing anyone who didn’t have the same opinion on steak as I did (mmm… I might be having steak for dinner). Learning to appreciate vegetables as a legitimate food source opened up a whole new world for me. Buying meat while living on a traveler’s budget can be expensive. In certain countries consuming local meat can be literally draining on your body.
I don’t believe that I will ever be able to cut meat out of my diet entirely, as my sister and many of my friends have. Especially not if I remain in the food industry. I also don’t believe that the answer is for people to be entirely vegetarian. Some people, especially in North America, just need to learn that vegetables are your friends. Raw or cooked, they are delicious and so good for your body. All it takes is being a little more proactive.
Instead of buying the bag of chips to munch on pick up some carrots from the market instead. Cut them into sticks and voila, a crunchy snack you can dip. Grate some carrot, dice an onion and pepper, and cook it into your taco beef. By the time everything is cooked and seasoned it is indistinguishable anyways and you can save the extra meat to make a burger for yourself the next day. Have a salad on the side instead of fries.
There are so many ways to add just a little bit more vegetables and fruit into your diet. None of them require kicking meat out, and none require much effort. It is simply the desire, the will to do so, that is necessary. For me it took a trip to the other side of the world. My sister couldn’t stand the brutality of the meat industry. Some people just don’t enjoy the taste of meat. I am very grateful that I learned that vegetarians are indeed friends, and not fools. Cooking for them expands my horizons, and challenges me in new and interesting ways. Just the way I like it.