When I decided to go back to vegetarianism, I made a decision to continue to eat fish, to make it easier to eat at other people’s houses. Also, at restaurants. But I really don’t want to eat a lot of fish, I am only doing it to be semi-flexible. I am just astonished, though, at how many people have not one single meatless meal in their repertoire of dinners.
I really don’t think we eat a lot of exotic food. Sure, I make some interesting Thai or Indian dishes, but more often we eat foods like pizza, pasta, some kind beans and rice, soups, salads, sandwiches, chili, bean burritos and other foods that seem pretty standard to me. I am a little more biased toward including lots of veggies in my meals than a lot of people I know, but that’s not a huge difference.
I do have a friend who makes an effort to eat less meat. She makes a lot of casseroles with a small amount of meat and more veggies to fill them out. But she has some meat every single night. That just seems so weird to me. When I did eat meat, I still made meatless meals once or twice per week.
I don’t want to tell anyone how to eat, mainly because I like having friends. But I really don’t understand what is so difficult about an occasional meatless meal. Every time we go over to my parents’ house for dinner, there is a fraught conversation about what to make for dinner. I hate this conversation. This past Sunday, my dad went ahead and got food on his own—ribs for everyone else, plus a piece of salmon for me. If I am going to have something different than everyone else anyway, I would rather pass on the fish, so I stopped and picked up something else on the way. Besides, I’d had salmon the night before at my friend’s house, and I didn’t want to eat it again.
Why is this so difficult? How did people get to the point where there is not one single thing they can think to make for dinner if the meat is removed? I blame meat marketers, personally. They have sold us a bill of goods that says that eating meat is a sign of wealth, and that a meal is not complete without it. I don’t really have a problem with people eating some meat, but this insistence that a meal is not a meal without it seems kind of creepy to me. I find myself wanting to ask people, “Don’t you care about your health? What about the environment?”
Of course, I don’t, because I genuinely like these people, and I don’t really feel that eating meat makes someone a bad person. But I keep coming back to my original question: How can people not have a single dinner idea that is meatless?