In short: because hamburgers are the most delicious food ever invented.
We don’t eat a ton of meat at Chez Blueberries. Which might surprise you if you know us, because we’re big fans of the stuff. But the truth is, 3/4 of our dinners are probably vegetarian, and virtually all of our breakfasts and lunches. If you count fish (’cause you know, fish don’t have little animal souls so they don’t really count) it’s probably more like 1/2 of our dinners are truly vegetarian.
Growing up Irish Catholic, we both would go exactly 8 days a year without eating meat (Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent). I’m assuming for John anyway, but I know for me, at least two meals a day would feature meat as the star of the plate. Fast forward to college when I began living with a vegetarian (well technically a pescatarian but no one walks around calling themselves a pescatarian), though having no real ideological basis for her vegetarian state, she had little interest in converting me to her veggie only ways. The experience of cooking for myself full time meant that meat was becoming less and less a part of my diet. It was definitely still an every day part but occasionally I would mix up a meatless spaghetti-and-jarred-sauce entree. I was quite the chef.
I think the transition to meat-less (to be distinguished from meatless) began with this cookbook:
The Moosewood Restaurant Daily Special. To survive during my insanely busy college years (I swear, I think I hardly sat down besides to study before 10 most nights) I took to stirring up a pot of potage each week. Black bean soup, tortilla soup, Texas two bean soup, cucumber soup. Name a vegetable and I have probably pureed it into soup form. My JVC housemates in Spokane joked that whenever it was my turn to cook, it was soup. They were probably right. I think I made ziti once though.
The Moosewood cookbooks are incredible. People like to say “I don’t know how to cook vegetarian” to which I snarkily reply “Its easy, you leave out the meat in recipes.” And while that is how most of our JVC-induced vegetarian cooking went (when you have a budget of $14 a week per person for food, meat is not common), the Moosewood recipes are solid enough that you are halfway through the dish before you realize its veggie.
But I’m not a vegetarian. And even though this summer, with a CSA, an odd work schedule, and no air conditioning, our frying pans haven’t seen too much meat, I have no plans to become one. First off is the fact that I am on a strict low-acid diet, so cutting out a whole food group is a bad idea (and veganism would be beyond impossible so I won’t even go there).
But mainly, I have no qualms eating meat. Maybe it’s because I grew up in the country, but I am okay with the idea that some animals are dinner and some are pets. While I believe that animals are valuable creatures who contribute to the complexity of our eco-system and were put on this earth by God, I do not believe they have souls.
On the other hand, I do understand that vegetarianism is more sustainable, and if we truly want to feed all these people in the world, we need to think about how we are eating. Cows eat way more than we do, and thus take up a lot more land to feed one person than if you were just growing edible produce on that land. And so I believe that, if you eat meat, it should be done with consideration; it should be viewed as a luxury and not as a necessary part of your diet. To me that’s a far more convincing argument than animals have souls. ‘Cause you know, I’m a selfish person who believes human needs come first, and so if eating less meat is better for people (both health-wise and feeding-the-world-wise) then so be it.
But you know what? Besides this blog, I don’t go around talking about the fact that I don’t eat a lot of meat. I’m not going to label myself a “flexitarian” or create rules like “I only eat meat that I know where it comes from.” I’ll make a concerted effort to eat meat that is better for me, better for the earth, but that’s about it. Maybe I just don’t care enough and maybe one day I’ll care more, but for now I’m good. I’ll sink my teeth into a buffalo burger any day of the week. Well, unless it’s a Friday and during Lent.
I am at peace with this decision. I believe it’s honoring God’s creation without being legalistic. While I don’t miss meat at a meal without it, I certainly appreciate it when it’s there.