A week without meat wasn’t all that challenging; however, the cultural aspects of vegetarianism made the task trying at times.
The health benefits of a well-balanced vegetarian diet are obvious, and can aid in staving off hypertension, diabetes, cancer, obesity and heart disease. Regardless, we are nation of meat lovers that gladly contribute to the $832 billion meat and poultry industry each year.
A meatless week isn’t much to ask and the process was pretty cut and dry for Melody and Erin. We both conquered our animal instincts, even when Erin accompanied friends to In-n-Out Burger and Melody was struck by a sushi craving.
But go to any standard-fair franchise and the choices are, more often than not, limited. If you’re lucky you may have a meager choice in entrees, rather than defaulting to the lone vegetarian plate, or combining salad and side orders.
The fact is, most menus cater to carnivores, and a selective personal diet can leave the herbivore a bit isolated.
Erin’s brother has been a long-time vegetarian, and fellow diners often feel the need to identify the flesh free food for him. Of course people are only trying to be accommodating, but it’s humorous that they want to help an adult with his “special diet needs.”
A diet once considered faddish is becoming more popular as people reject the traditional meat and potatoes in favor of a healthier alternative. A Vegetarian Times study shows 7.3 million Americans consider themselves vegetarians.
This has created a niche industry responsible for customized cookbooks and the advent of vegetarian restaurants.
Strangely, during our week of meat sobriety we could not find one vegetarian restaurant in either Woodland or Davis. There are a few in Sacramento, including the family-owned, Noble Vegetarian.
Tuan Lee helps run the restaurant that serves family-style Asian-inspired vegetarian cuisine at a moderate price. In this setting, not only does the vegetarian diner have a menu that caters to his/her needs, but strictly vegetarian fare eliminates the risk of cross contamination with meat products.
Lee said very few conventional restaurants take precautions to discriminate when cooking every food group in the pyramid. Further, if you order fried vegetables, don’t count on the cooks changing the oil after the chicken has been greased to perfection. Lee recalled one occasion of ordering deep fried tofu that came garnished with scraps of chicken.
Vegetarian restaurants are far more common now than when Lee stopped eating meat in 1990. But a night out with friends with this diet still proves to inconvenient at times.
Many are inclined sacrifice health for convenience, and meat is often at the core of that convenience.
Both Melody and Erin celebrated the end of a week of meat abstinence with fish. We know the health benefits of vegetarianism and keep our meat consumption minimal. However, we both rely on meat as a source of protein and can’t imagine permanently substituting it with tofu, nuts and legumes.
Next week’s fast: Spending money.