Tuesday, June 1, 2010

10 good reasons to be a part-time vegetarian

There are lots of good reasons to be 100% vegetarian. For one, vegetarians tend to live longer than meat eaters. For 10 others, see my May 7 post, "10 good things about being vegetarian." The list is by no means exhaustive.

But there are also good reason to eat meat some of the time. I first heard the term part-time vegetarian in 2005 when I was traveling in Asia. Many Buddhists, I learned, occasionally eat meat though they favor a plant-based diet. In largely Buddhist Thailand, for example, per capita meat consumption is about 30 pounds per year (in the United States, the figure is about 125 pounds; you can compare various countries' meat consumption here).

Part-time vegetarians are a diverse lot. Some, like my parents when I was growing up, eat meat no more than three or four times a year. Others, like some of my friends, eat meat six days a week but take a one-day vegetarian holiday. Here are 10 good reasons to try part-time vegetarianism yourself:

1.    Family. Some of your family members want to eat meat, and you don’t have time to cook separate meals. You can, however, offer meatless meals one or more times a week.
2.    Friends. You’re basically vegetarian, but you don’t want to be a fussy guest when people invite you to dinner.
3.    Taste. You’re basically vegetarian, but now and then meat tastes so good...
4.    Curiosity. You prefer to eat vegetarian, but you love to travel and sample native cuisines.
5.    Budget. You buy only ethically produced meat, which means you can’t afford to eat it very often.
6.    Winter. You eat mostly locally grown food, and you run short of vegetables and fruit in the winter.
7.    Sustainable agriculture. You eat lots of plants and small amounts of meat, since pastured animals make organically grown plant foods possible.
8.    Food intolerance. You can’t digest dairy products and/or beans, and so consistent vegetarianism is difficult to practice.
9.    Religion. You have religious reasons for periodically abstaining from meat; or you find that it is often easier to eat vegetarian than to find kosher or halal food.
10.  Practice. You would like to be a full-time vegetarian someday, but you need to spend time learning how.
If you'd like to be a vegetarian, whether full-time or part-time, scroll through other posts in this series  for tips on vegetarian cooking, eating, and dining out.


David Neff said...

My mother, of blessed memory, fell into category 3. She just needed to taste meat every so often.

Given the state of vegetarian meat substitutes in the 1950s, one might be tempted to blame those rather than her addiction to meat.

Snacks from the cruise buffet said...

I love the term "Flexitarian" for this. {Wikipedia gives a nice definition of it.}

Jason H. said...

"Part time vegetarian"...didn't know there was a name for it. I always thought I was just saving $ at the grocery :) Thanks Mrs. N!