Monday, July 28, 2008

Minding Manners

It has been just under a week since I made my public "meat free" declaration. For the most part it is going well. I'm not going hungry or craving bacon too badly (I always like me some bacon though...). I am blessed with a wonderfully supportive partner in Felicia, who was disturbingly ecstatic to hear about me swearing off meat. She has a huge variety of vegetarian dishes she knows how to make that are tasty enough that I forget that I am "going without". We eat really really well at home, there is always a bounty of local, organic foods, plus a bowl of ice cream every night, so I can't complain.

The difficulty of me of this whole endeavor so far is managing the social stigma that comes with not eating meat. You can see I am reluctant to call myself a vegetarian, because that has so many connotations that may not fit me or what I am doing. I actually just don't want to get beat up. Seriously, there is a hostility that forms when a group of people are sitting down to eat together, and one person is choosing to eat something different. Do they think they are better than the rest of us? Are they getting enough to eat? What are they thinking, what is wrong with the meat that I am eating? There is some kind of implicit threat that comes from eating vegetarian. It is subtle but tangible- and divides people along friendship and political lines. Its almost like the social stigma of being a vegetarian is bigger than that of being overweight...

Anyhow, in this case I am going to choose my battles. If I am on my own or with my family, I am going to continue to be pretty strict about our meat consumption. When we go out to eat, it is easy to have a yummy meal without ordering something silly like a garden burger- I would rather get grilled cheese and fries. I digress. The vast majority of the time, we get to choose what we eat without input from others, and we can choose with our conscience. I figure that will cover about 90-95% of our eating habits. However, if we are guests at somebody's home, I am not going to make them go out of their way to provide vegetarian options, or go off on some soapbox rant about the meat economy. This is an issue I care about, but I am not at the point that I am going to be an evangelist about it, except maybe on my blog ;).

There is something very special that happens when people eat together, a spiritual connection. The bible is rife with references about 'supping' together. Sharing food together is a symbol of friendship and connection. The biggest symbol of conflicts coming to a close is when enemies sit down to share a meal together. Thus, I want to respect the relationships I hold dear with friends and family and not take exception to how we eat together.

Am I comprising? Pretty much, yes. However, I feel it will help make our little stand here into a lifestyle that we can sustain in perpetuity, not just an impassioned fad. Your support in this effort is welcome and appreciated!!!!!!

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