Content note: This is just a personal account of how I became partially vegetarian. I won’t say much to defend this decision, although I’ll talk about some of the reasons I did it.
A couple years ago, I decided to eat less meat. First I decided that at restaurants where decent vegetarian options were offered, I would prioritize those. Then I switched out deli sandwich meat for meat substitutes. As for all the dinners I cook for myself, I tried making most of them vegetarian.
I would not say that I am 99% vegetarian, or even 95% vegetarian. It’s really more like 50-75%. At time of writing, the last time I ate meat was… yesterday. There are lots of reasons I might eat meat. Sometimes the vegetarian options at a restaurant are absent or unappealing. Or I’m at a social gathering where the food has meat in it. Or I’m cooking for my boyfriend, who happens to like meat a lot. Or he’s cooking for me. Or I’m just cooking a dish that I haven’t figured out how to make vegetarian yet.
The rationale for becoming partially vegetarian is that I just don’t like meat that much. Why am I spending money on it when I don’t enjoy it, it’s bad for the environment, and causes animal suffering? Better to just not do it. But also, I just don’t care that much. This probably isn’t philosophically defensible when you get down to it. I understand there are some fairly strong arguments for veg*nism. I guess that warrants some minimal effort to change my behavior, but I’m not treating it with any urgency.
There are some nice things about being partially vegetarian. It incentivizes some creativity in food preparation, but also imposes constraints, reducing choice paralysis.
Being partially vegetarian is made possible by social and institutional support. This town is full of vegetarians, pesco-vegetarians, and vegans. So I don’t feel like I’m doing anything particularly strange. I’ve noticed that omnivores sometimes get weird around veg*ns at restaurants, but the presence of so many veg*ns has diluted this significantly. And there are lots of restaurants that serve good veg*n food. And I have veg*n friends that I can casually ask for advice.
One thing I heard from veg*ns is that sometimes it can cause certain vitamin deficiencies. So, for the first time since I realized vitamin supplements were mostly a scam, I bought some multivitamins. But I don’t really use them because I think I eat enough meat that it’s not an issue. I haven’t really read into the issue.
I have this vague notion, probably acquired from an article I saw a long time ago, that people like me are contributing significantly to the reduction of meat consumption. It’s not necessarily the small number of people who go fully vegan, but the large number of people who make small adjustments in their diets. I am not sure if this account is true, and could not find any sources in a cursory search. I dunno. I would encourage other omnivores to also put in some minimal effort to be partially vegetarian, because just, why not.
I’m don’t think there’s much more to say than that, so I’m going to talk about some food specifics.
I eat a sandwich every day for lunch because it’s easy to prepare in the mornings. I used to use deli meat, but I really don’t like deli meat so I was happy to take it out. I tried some sliced meat substitutes like Field Roast Deli Slices, but I got tired of that too. Finally I hit upon the idea of cutting up vegetarian sausages, and it’s the best thing ever. So now I make sandwiches with grain meat sausages, cherry tomatoes, and cheese.
There are several dishes I’ve had trouble converting to vegetarian. Chicken Adobo, that’s like the Filipino national dish, and you know, it doesn’t really work without the chicken. I found a recipe that substituted tofu, and it just wasn’t the same. I’ll try other things in the future. Mapo Tofu has ground beef, and I haven’t found a good substitute yet. Next time I’ll try substituting mushrooms, lots and lots of mushrooms. I’m optimistic about that. Fried rice certainly doesn’t need meat, but it’s really nice to have something in there to make it just a bit greasy. I like adding longanisa sausage, but maybe not anymore now that the local grocery store stopped carrying them, sigh. Oh, and then there’s spaghetti, which is greatly improved by the addition of meatballs. I could check the grocery store if they have vegetarian meatballs but I forgot to do that last time and now we have a really big bag of frozen meatballs, so maybe next time. You can see how uncommitted I am to this whole thing, which is why I ate meat yesterday, but not today.
But there are lots of dishes where simply taking out meat worked fine. Honestly, cooking all that chicken was a pain anyway.