The Vegetarian Lifestyle

By Owen Jones

There was a time, say thirty or forty years ago, when vegetarians had a hard time telling non-vegetarians why it was so important to stop eating meat. The situation was made worse because vegetarians back then did not have the support from the food manufacturers and supermarkets that they do now either. In short, it was far harder to be a vegetarian than it is now.

Moreover, in those far off days, lots of hippies and others following an 'alternative' lifestyle were first generation vegetarians and so they could not look to their parents for support and advice. Those people are now in their forties and fifties with children and even grandkids of their own, lots of whom are also vegetarian.

Being second or even third generation vegetarian is very different from being first, not least because they have been able to see the effects of a vegetarian lifestyle on their parents and even grandparents. It may never cross such a person's mind to yearn for a bacon sandwich with tomato sauce or a French dip beef sandwich au jus, because the thought is repugnant to them.

They have not had to make a conscious decision or a huge physical endevour to strip meat from their diet after perhaps eating it for twenty years or more. My father gave up meat for ethical as well as practical reasons when he was sixty and he yearned for 'bacon butties' (sandwiches) for the remainder of his life. He thought it difficult.

His reasons for giving up meat were pretty typical: he objected to the callousness to animals that is brought on by intensive farming methods in some countries; he objected to the use of hormones and preservatives in live animals and he believed that eating so much meat was not a sustainable lifestyle for a growing world populace, that was becoming steadily rich enough that everyone would want to eat more meat sooner or later.

Society does not help or encourage the would-be vegetarian. The farming industry has grown huge and they have a vested interest in selling us their dairy, meat and eggs. It is difficult to escape pictures and hoardings promoting their products. Although the situation is better these days, restaurants still cater usually to the meat-eaters and vegetarian meals always seem small and costly by comparison.

Luckily there are plenty of 'Eastern' restaurants that cater naturally to the vegetarian because numerous Easterners are vegetarian. You can always find vegetarian meals on a Chinese, Japanese or an Indian menu. Hindus are vegetarian. Thai restaurants will also have a high proportion of meatless meals.

However, if you do not enjoy spicy food, you are back in the pizza hut or the sandwich bar in most towns. Society has moved on, but there is still a long way to go yet the vegetarian life is definitely becoming easier to sustain. There is support in numbers, so it would be worth taking vegetarian cookery lessons if your resolve begins to weaken.

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