My little sister is a vegetarian. A full-on, doesn’t eat any meat, doesn’t eat any foods made with meat or meat products vegetarian.
Once, six years ago, I was a vegetarian, too. For six months.
For six months I didn’t eat any meat or anything related to meat. Well, okay, I did eat cheese and eggs, which officially made me a lacto- ovo-vegetarian. But I didn’t eat any chicken, turkey, beef, pork, ham…hot dogs (do they count as meat, anyway?). Heck, I didn’t even eat Oreos, for the love of Pete. (They’re made with lard, in case you were wondering.)
And then, on Boxing Day 2002, I wanted a hamburger. I really, really wanted a hamburger. A juicy, tasty beef patty, with melting cheddar on top and a crispy dill pickle on a warm, soft kaiser bun.
How good does that sound?
But where do you find such a beast on December 27, and in Calgary, which is well-known for its dearth of good burger places (believe me…we’ve tried them all)? Nowhere. So I had a Whopper.
Which was a really big let-down.
Ever since then I’ve sorta regretted it, that Whopper. In the ensuing years I’ve probably had a dozen or more Whoppers, and each time I’ve thought, "Gee. That’s the burger that broke my vegetarian streak." It’s not that I think there’s anything intrinsically wrong with eating meat, or with Whoppers, even. It’s just that I took it as a point of pride, my vegetarianism. I sought out new, healthy recipes. I fed my family well. Very well. I had a toddler whose first finger-food was brown rice and curried lentils, for goodness sake! We even nick-named her Broccoli because she loved the stuff so much!
So, where’s this going? Am I out here announcing my renewed veggie-exclusivity?
Well, not really, anyway. But interestingly, while in the UK recently visiting said vegetarian sister, I read an article about the high environmental cost of the "typical North American diet". The article pointed out that the biggest contributor to this environmental impact is beef. Not only are they big and costly to feed, cows are also major contributors to greenhouse gases (high levels of methane in bovine farts, apparently). The largest positive impact one could have, according to the article, would be to give up red meat. My hubby read the same article and mentioned it to me.
So we agreed to try it. So far this week we’ve tried polenta (for the first time, but not the last…yum), spicy beans with mango salsa and saffron rice. I also roasted a spaghetti squash (that stuff is so yummy) and baked carrot muffins. For dinner this evening I made the kids piggies in a blanket, with whole wheat Pillsbury crescent rolls and Yves veggie hot dogs. They loved em!
So far so good!