Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Guest Post from Down Under by Jessie

This is a guest post by my friend, Jessie. She is, among many things, smart, thoughtful, gorgeous and she always remembers my birthday--even from all the way in Australia, which is why I've chosen a picture of an Australian water lily for her post.

My name is Jessie, I'm 26 and I've just started my graduate job. I started thinking about being vegetarian when I saw a documentary on pig-farming when I was in my teens. It had a profound effect on me and I found it difficult to justify eating meat after that. Soon after that I made the transition into not eating meat over a period of 3 years. I started out at 15 by cutting out pork products. It was easy for me to do this. I didn't miss ham or bacon at all. Then at 18 I decided I didn't want to be a part of the meat production cycle at all. Again it was pretty easy. I have however, always eaten crustaceans, although I stopped eating large fish, like tuna, a few years ago. I don't really buy into the politics of vegetarianism. I acknowledge that seafood is flesh and experiences pain when it is killed. If people have a problem with me calling myself vegetarian I don't mind. I'm not particularly attached to the label, and as long as people know that I don't eat meat when they're serving me food I am a happy camper.

I love vegetables and do enjoy cooking alone, and for myself. When I eat with my parents I usually cook for us. They're very flexible and relaxed about eating meals with no meat. Luckily my live-in partner has recently “converted” to not eating meat (but still eating seafood including big fish). I don't really know why he's done it or if my diet has had any effect on his decision to do that. I think he has done it for environmental reasons, such as the carbon dioxide and methane produced in meat farming. Having a partner with similar dietary requirements as your own is really convenient and I don't feel like so much of a weirdo now at friends' parties and at restaurants. I doubt his conversion will be long-term, but he might surprise me. He told me he still occasionally hankers for steak and sometimes sausages.

In terms of my diet, I try and eat tofu when it's on the menu at restaurants. At home I like to use firm tofu in Vietnamese cold rolls, salads and stir fries. I think tofu is good for you, as it contains lots of vegetable protein. As a typical vegetarian, I am quite fond of pasta. It's easy to cook and many non-vegetarians don't have a problem with eating vegetarian pasta. Ever since we started going out my partner has been very sensitive to me being vego. He always cooks vegetarian meals for me and we eat together. However, when his son is staying with us (2-3 nights per week) he cooks meat or fish for his son. This doesn't impact on me at all. I do sometimes wonder what my own child would eat, and if he/she would be raised vegetarian.

Even when my partner did eat meat it didn't impact on my life. If he was eating a sausage and salad for dinner, I could always eat a vegie sausage or chickpea burger and salad. I think he was OK with eating mostly vegetarian. He's pretty happy-go-lucky when it comes to food and will always eat what's put in front of him.

My best friend is also vegetarian so I feel I am pretty lucky in terms of being accepted as a vegetarian. Being vegetarian is normal in my day-to-day life. Even in my immediate work place I am not alone in my dietary choices. Three of the 5 people in my team are vegetarian. I still field a lot of questions about my diet but it's a nice feeling when you're not alone :)

If you would like to share your story or tips on how you navigate being a vegan, vegetarian, or ominvore who navigates "interdietary" relationships, please leave a comment or send an e-mail to We would love to hear from you and possibly share your story. Thank you!

Mutual Menu is giving away one copy of Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. To enter to win and for more details, please leave one comment here.

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