Julia Phelps, Georgia
A vegetarian cooks for her omnivore spouse
I have been a consistent vegetarian for about 3 years now. I dabbled in it as a young adult, as I was appalled at the conditions animals were raised and slaughtered in. It took a few events to get me back on track and keep me there.
The first was when I was living in a southern state. I was stuck on more than one occasion behind a tall, swaying chicken truck heading to the slaughterhouse. On those two-lane roads, behind a slow vehicle, one has time to view the scenery. What I saw was heartbreaking. Many dead chickens, with their live crate-mates stuffed on top of them. No one could ever convince me that #1, these weren’t horrible conditions for any sentient being, and #2, all those chickens were going to be processed—heading to a table near you. Not only was it wrong, it was nasty.
The second diet-changing event happened when I found and watched the documentary Food, Inc. My conversion began that day. I cannot recall his name, but in the documentary, the gentleman in the suspenders and big glasses who ran his own farm [Joel Salatin] was my catalyst for change. I have come around to becoming an ovo/lacto/pesce-tarian… to be exact! I eat eggs, dairy, and fish.
This was all well and good. I could research, shop, and fix the food I like. One issue, though. I was dating a man who was not on board with my new way of eating. We were dating long distance so he wasn’t bothered by my change in diet, he listened to me, but basically we just carried on in our own ways. I believe he thought I’d just get over it.
Then we married. Started our home together. Now what to do?
We had many discussions about the health aspects of eating vegan/vegetarian. Study after study and book after book. I was holding onto the nutrition benefits but losing my argument. (He is a physician, and can agree with some, but not all their findings…) It seemed that I forgot or didn’t want to admit my real reason for choosing my diet. I finally owned up to it… It’s the animals and their welfare! We don’t have long discussions over nutrition studies anymore. (To be noted: I do believe there is a lot of credence in veganism. It’s just not my choice for a diet.)
What has now evolved is that I shop for us. I cook for us. But I do not always eat what I prepare. He has evolved into going meatless on most occasions here at home. I shop at Whole Foods, and buy the White Oak Pastures whole chickens, and Niman Ranch pork. Usually Applegate bacon—still researching that one. My eggs come from my friends who raise chickens, or I buy Vitals eggs. Brown Cow yogurt and Organic Valley cheese/butter/milk . He loves almost all these products.
I can easily prepare meals for us in which I just leave out the meat for my portion. And he easily eats meatless meals now. The other evening I came home to a stuffed poblano pepper meal which originally called for lamb. He used tempeh and it was wonderful.
We each give a little. We both have learned grace.
I believe we do have dominion over the animals. We are tasked with their care and/or welfare. With that task comes the responsibility of humane and respectful treatment. It is part of the circle of life.
I learn within that circle every day.
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