A Non-Vegan Eating Vegan Meals

We've been looking for perspectives from others living in Maine and into local food. Being vegan wasn't a hard and fast prerequisite, just that those interested in submitting be open minded. It's important to understand that everyone started somewhere. It may be an ethical conflict that gets you started on the path to veganism. Maybe it's concern for the environment or personal well being. Veganism at it's roots is a rejection of violence. Violence to non-humans, the self, and the planet. I think our Twitter friend Marie from Freeport has been thinking about these things for a while. With that in mind, here's her guest submission.

A while back, I noticed some of the people in my Twitter stream talking about something called "Meatless Monday." I didn't know how it had started, but I thought, what a great idea! Pick one day a week and pledge to go meatless that day. I thought it was strictly for health reasons, but I figured, why not? Recently, I've done more and more reading about the campaign, and this is what I found out and how it's influenced me to eat less meat and animal products.

The Meatless Monday campaign has been around a while, apparently, but it's gotten much wider promotion due to Paul McCartney launching a Meat Free Monday campaign last year and getting his celebrity friends to join in. Here's an article with a short video, from June of 2009.

Before I realized exactly what Meatless Monday was all about, I had been eating vegetarian at least one day a week anyway. Growing up in a household where meat is the most important ingredient in any meal, even eating vegetarian a few days per week was a huge leap. Fortunately, my husband doesn't care what he eats, so there's none of the resistance people sometimes get from their spouses when they attempt to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. Last week I made a potato curry dish, using a few cut-up potatoes boiled in water, and some sauteed garlic, onion and fresh ginger. When the potatoes got soft, I added a generous dollop of curry paste and some spinach. Served with a nice slice of crusty bread, it was a delicious meal, and I had the leftovers for breakfast the next morning. My husband enjoyed it and we felt a little healthier. I didn't miss the meat one bit!

This is how I arrived at my decision to eat less meat. One day, a couple of months ago, I was eating a piece of chicken and I started thinking, "what am I doing? I'm eating another animal." It's easy to forget the live bird when you buy it neatly packaged in the store; but, for instance, when you drive by someone's yard here in Freeport and see the gorgeous chickens walking around, it's harder to ignore the fact that one of these creatures was slaughtered, often brutally, to end up cooked on my plate. I love wildlife, and I wouldn't dream of killing one of the wild turkeys that appear in my back yard sometimes, so how can I justify eating a chicken?

A few months ago, I joined the Paul McCartney website forum, after buying one of his albums for my iPod. I began reading the posts, and in particular, the posts about vegetarianism and the environment. What I like about Paul McCartney's approach to encouraging vegetarianism is that he says, "this is what I do, and this is why." Regardless of how you feel about the morality of eating meat or using animals products, he makes a strong case for going meatless to support the environment.

To make matters worse, even without anyone eating a cow, farmers can cause damage to the environment just by using cow manure on their fields, something I read about often in the papers when I lived in the Midwest. My grand daughter lives in Wisconsin and she has a low immune system due to being born premature four years ago. I can't imagine her swimming in a lake contaminated with manure runoff, can you? Yet it's not against the law, it's entirely voluntary on the farmers' part.

So while I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, I am tossing all of these issues around in my mind on an ongoing basis, and going more and more meat free, not just one day a week, but several. I think everyone has their own motivations for not eating meat, and you can't force people into a certain lifestyle by preaching, as food is such a primal element in people's lives. People associate food with their mothers, and nurturing, and I still remember my mother making raspberry pie from the fresh raspberries we kids picked at our house in Winthrop. If someone came up to me and told me I wasn't allowed to eat raspberries anymore, I'd laugh in their face.

Since moving back to Maine almost four years ago, I've seen many wonderful examples of people living lifestyles that truly support and sustain our environment. I'd never thought of Maine as a state with lots of vegetarians and vegans. My experiences growing up in Maine as a child were limited to a few small towns, where most people ate meat as a matter of course. I find myself buying local more and more, thinking about the environment, and yes, going meat free. Like Paul McCartney, you provide a great example with a caring and non-judgmental attitude. I thank you, and I'm sure the chickens down the road thank you too.


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