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vegetarian chowhounds

Hello all, I'm just wondering about the nature of my fellow chowhounds' vegetarianism. Is it because of the taste, religious reasons, health reasons, ethical reasons? What do you consider a vegetarian to be? I've been a vegetarian my whole life because I've always hated the taste of meat. Both my parents are carnivores and would feed me meat and fish when I was very young but I always hated it. Why did you go veg?

ps. what's your all time favorite veggie food?!

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  1. I'm not a vegetarian, and will probably never be, BUT I respect most people's preferences and don't feel that we should have meat every day (to Mr. Flash's dismay).
    Here are my personal vegetarian delights-
    the dim sum veggie delights
    bean curd Chinese dishes with vegetables
    Nearly all vegetables
    Most fruits

    I guess I feel like I need ot wear the hair shirt for the nonunderstanding carnivorew/omnivores among us, but as long as you don[t give warning signs of being one of those Food Issue People, I can live in your dimension.

    All time favorite veggie food- Spanakopita

    2 Replies
    1. re: EWSflash

      Spanakopita is one of my favorite foods -- and I am a meat-eater!

      1. re: Tripeler

        That's funny- my good friend's husband eats NO veggies...but his exception is spanakopita. :)

    2. Hi! Well, I'm vegan, and I'd have to say it's for a variety of reasons. I feel better physically when I don't eat meat or animal products. However, I think the main reason I choose not to eat meat and such is ethical reasons, I'm just not okay with how we treat the animals we eat. I respect everyone's food choices, and I know there are lots of 'hounds that go out of their way to source humanely raised and slaughtered animals.

      My favorite veggie food is probably tomato pie (the Italian kind) and tofu cheese cake!

      1. I was a vegetarian for 11 years because I didn't like the taste of meat. It started when I got horribly sick after eating ground beef tacos at age 10. I didn't eat any meat or fish for nearly 11 years after that. I started eating meat again in part because being a vegetarian in Louisiana is really tough, but also because I realized if it was cooked correctly, meat could be great. My mom cooked pork chops until eating them was like chomping on a leather belt...that probably contributed to my belief that meat tasted terrible.

        But now, I am a "part-time" vegetarian for ethical reasons. I won't eat meat unless I know that it was not raised at a CAFO, which means I almost never eat meat outside of my home. I had an experience studying the environmental impact of hog operations in North Carolina, which brought me up close and personal with how most meat is produced in America, and it wasn't pretty. Not only are the animals inhumanely treated, but so are the workers, the environment, and the surrounding communities. It's really disturbing, in my opinion. Luckily, I live in an area where farmers still raise their own animals, and it's not difficult to get my hands on 1/4 cow or 1/2 pig that have been raised in normal conditions.

        2 Replies
        1. re: RosemaryHoney

          I love that -- "normal conditions". Ain't it the truth? Until a generation or two ago most animals were raised on small farms or smallish operations in, as you say, normal conditions.

          I'm a part-time veggo for the same reasons, RH, and am also very lucky to live in a place where I can buy meat from an old-fashioned butcher who gets his meat from small, local family farms.

          1. re: RosemaryHoney

            I love 'part time vegetarian'. I also consider myself a partimer.

          2. i rarely eat meat and am borderline pescatarian. I have no problem with meat per se. It's how it is produced. I do think the less meat, the better...but, i dont necessarily think no meat is better than any meat at all. Most meat products are mass produced. This mass production, for me, causes health and ethical concerns. Hence, whenever i do eat meat, it's only when i know for sure that it was properly 'handled.' I do like the taste of meat...i've eaten it all my life and, on most occasions, have not been sick. But, because of principle, and some reasonable health concerns given the handling of various meat products, i've decided to taper my meat intake to a very low level.

            1. I am mostly a vegetarian - but there are two layers to it. I was raised in India in a mostly vegetarian (ovo-lacto) household. My mother would sometimes cook chicken at home, oh maybe twice a year, to keep my brother from eating improperly cooked stuff outside. Our vegetarianism was traditional rather than religious. Then I came to the states where meat was ubiquitous. I had a hamburger and did not like it, so I swore off beef - I was squeamish about eating meat from large animals anyway. Don't ask me why - just a gut reaction. I ate plenty of chicken, most times it was dry and overcooked and I did not like it. When I tried cooking it at home, I overcooked it and did not like it, but sometimes the vegetarian choices were very poor or non-existent. I did like bacon and still do like it a little bit for flavor, but I don't think I can eat a BLT anymore. My husband is a vegetarian for ethical reasons. I slowly became aware of the ills of factory farming and now I can't bring myself to eat much outside either unless it is specifically humanely raised. I really like shrimp and maybe once in 6 months I will have a few shrimp when dining outside - when the preparation sounds like it warrants breaking a rule. I didn't eat fish much anyway and now I don't eat at all for sustainability reasons except for the aforementioned shrimp. My kitchen is firmly ovo-lacto vegetarian. I buy local free-range, grass fed eggs and organic milk, butter and cheese. I wish I could banish dairy altogether from my kitchen, but we all love cheese and butter too much.

              1. All-time fave veggie food? Navrataan korma or saag! I can't get enough of veggies the way they're prepared in Indian cuisines, as something worthy of a beautiful sauce (or delicious dry seasoning) and a careful preparation!

                My def. of vegetarian is pretty boring: someone who doesn't eat animals! I lean lacto-ovo vegetarian but as I said above, I eat (carefully-sourced) meat occasionally, so I don't call myself a vegetarian.

                1. I stopped eating meat at 16, after doing my final high school debate class project on factory farming and vegetarianism. This was back in the 90's, so the topic was a bit more unusual and suprising than it would be now. I just couldn't eat meat afterwards. And, to be honest, meat dishes weren't often my favorites anyhow.
                  My parents let it go because they assumed I would eventually change my mind. My mom didn't mind "experimenting" with tofu dishes now and then, and we were all happy.

                  I didn't eat seafood and fish much, mostly because I just didn't care for it. A few years ago, I started eating seafood more often, thinking that it was OK for ethical reasons. However, the more I hear about overfishing, etc., the more I am staying away from most fish, too (except for the stuff my dad catches when I visit back home in Wisconsin).

                  I'm definitely not super strict, however. I see it as a lifestyle choice -- the same way "working out and being active" is a lifestyle choice -- therefore, sometimes I'm lazy and I don't workout for a few days, or I eat something that probably has chicken broth in it :)

                  The only major exceptions I make, however, to the veggie diet have been while traveling. For example, I was working on a project in rural Guatemala and the local residents of a village made our group a large chicken stew meal. There was no way I would reject eating the food as a) it would be very offensive and b) I realized how lucky I was to be able to afford to eat well everyday, compared with many of the villagers and c) the chicken was definitely locally raised :)

                  At this stage in my life, I can say that I could, ethically, go back to eating meat -- if I were able to find locally-raised, responsibly-farmed stuff (the same way as I buy my eggs and dairy products now). However, after NOT eating meat for 14 years, I just don't really find it appealing. Also, since I've never cooked with the stuff, I don't know how -- and it seems somewhat daunting to try to learn! Also, it's expensive. So, I don't see myself changing anytime soon.

                  Favorite veg meals:
                  1. Almost any vegetarian Indian food
                  2. Macaroni and Cheese
                  3. Quinoa, mozzarella and roasted veggie spinach salad

                  1. I choose not to eat meat because I don't support the large-scale industry. I'm completely fine with the concept of eating animals because I do recognize that it was an evolutionary aspect that made humans what we are, but I'm extremely uncomfortable with the excesses of consumption and waste we go through and the corresponding environmental/ecological impact that has. With that said, I was vegetarian for 6 years and have only been vegan for a year, but I can't really say I consider myself much of anything apart from an ethical eater. I'll eat meat if it's been raised in a sustainable and humane manner. These opportunities don't come that often though, and I never really go out of my way to buy organic local beef or anything because I kinda just lost my taste for meat and I'm severely lactose intolerant, so I suppose I'm vegan most of the time. Also, I just feel healthier when I'm vegan, and maybe that's a placebo effect but it's working for me.

                    Oh, and tomatoes and peaches! Simple things never get old.

                    1. Health plus ethical reasons. When I was quite young, in my twenties, and an omnivore, I experienced angina, and figured heck, I'm too young for this. According to the thinking at the time, I figured it was probably due to meat consumption. And truly, conditions improved after becoming vegetarian. I don't eat fish either, but these days I keep reading about the benefits of fish oil and that is not lost on me.

                      I never abandoned dairy products, and some of those are quite high in fat content too. I don't follow the news much on up-to-the-moment thinking on diet, but I don't regret being vegetarian. Some of the meat-based dishes described here and elsewhere sound pretty yummy, but I haven't been tempted to stray.

                      I guess I'm sybarite enough to still want some fabulous cheese on artisan bread, accompanied by a nice wine. Yet I can still appreciate a great vegan or macrobiotic meal; maybe it's from coming of age around 1970. It's all good!

                      1. I've been a vegetarian since I was about twelve years old. I hated the taste and texture of meat so I avoided it as a child unless i could smother in franks red hot, and when I turned eleven or twelve I learned about factory farming and how terrible animals raised for food are treated and the environmental impact of these industries, and I completely stopped eating meat - yes, I was an odd child. I've been a vegetarian and on and off vegan for the past ten years.

                        1. The reason I went vegetarian is to try to lose weight and lower my blood pressure. I've been an on and off vegetarian through the years. I am not a vegan and I do eat fish and shell fish. I like to experiment/try various soy and veggie patties.

                          1. Like the original poster, I never really had an appetite for meat. In my childhood my brother and I developed a rather elaborate bartering system, trading meat (mine) for vegetables (his). The health benefits of a vegetarian, then vegan, diet were of course a consideration as an adult, but my motivations were somewhat less practical. Vegetarians, especially vegans, tended to smell better than non-vegetarians. I realise this is a debatable issue, but in my experience it tends to be true.
                            As for a favourite veggie food, I would have to say a vegetarian pho, or any one of Heidi Swanson's (101cookbooks.com) recipes.

                            1. I'm a vegetarian who occasionally has a "treat" of seafood.... if that makes sense. My "at home" diet is vegetarian .

                              Like some on this thread, I gave up meat for several reasons. I wasn't eating much of it at the time, but I also disagreed with the practices of corporate farming (so for a while, I would only eat local/hunted). I lost my taste for it, and don't miss it one iota, which is a common question from many about whether I just crave a big steak. I don't .

                              Hmmmm. .. as for favorite foods. I do eat cheese, so that is in the top tier for sure. Peanut butter is also a staple in my diet, mostly in savory dishes, as are other nuts. Cooking for one mostly, I eat a lot of stir fry or curries. I make a mean mean artichoke and mushroom lasagna. I love the tofurkey smoked "meat" and the morningstar nuggets. Also, give me a good veggie burger with a fantastic bun and great toppings...i'm a happy camper. Salads are a given.

                              Favorite dishes / restaurant fare...to name a few:
                              -chana masala
                              -pad thai
                              -tom kha
                              -green papaya salad
                              etc etc etc...............

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: im_nomad

                                I've been 80/90 percent raw organic vegan since the beginning of the year strictly for health reasons. I normally have no dietary restrictions.

                                My favorite thing to eat is a green smoothie in the morning and Nori.

                                BTW Years ago I did a stint of vegetarianism when a friend came to visit and I decided to switch to her diet. It was a bit of an eye opener. I always had the notion a vegetarian diet would be really healthy by nature. After following her diet I realized you can be vegetarian and still eat lots of unhealthy foods.

                              2. I had a girlfriend who was vegetarian when I was 14-15. At first, I teased her about it a lot, but she got me to read Diet For a New America, and I've been vegetarian, and mostly vegan ever since, so more than half my life. The simplest reason I usually give when people ask is that I don't want to kill things. After cutting out meat, then eggs and dairy, not only did I notice feeling better (more after cutting out eggs and dairy than just meat), but I feel like I started to really understand on a more gut level the ways in which all the reasons people give for being vegetarian kind of fit together.

                                I think that in some ways it can also make you think a little more about what you're putting into your body, though it can sometimes also make it harder to eat healthy when you're traveling or eating at restaurants. I've been lucky enough to live mostly in large urban areas where it's usually possible to find a decent and healthy vegan meal.

                                These days I will eat eggs at home, if they're from someone who doesn't kill their chickens for meat or sell male chicks for meat, but other than that, I eat more or less vegan outside the home. I do think you have to draw the line somewhere, and focus on doing what you can -- I don't always scrupulously avoid honey or refined sugar, though I don't use either a lot in my own cooking. I don't tend to worry too much about clarifying agents used in beer and wine. I ask a lot of questions when I go to non-vegetarian restaurants, but try not to get too upset if they make a mistake. I am hesitant to label myself a "vegan" these days, since I'm technically not, but I do use that term when eating at restaurants, because it's a lot simpler than explaining my whole life story to the server.

                                Over time, I've beccome a lot more moderate in my views; at the least, I am rarely interested in trying to "convert" people, and I try to have a sense of humor about things. I've always felt that eating a vegetarian diet has some health benefits, but of course, as burntwater says, it's very possible to overload on junk with a vegetarian diet, especially with all the new convenience items that have become popular recently. Over the last 5 or so years, I think I've also gotten more interested in my health - trying to avoid processed foods and meat substitutes in favor of food that is, well... food. That's not to say that I won't eat these things if there's no easy alternative or if I'm feeling especially lazy, but I do try to avoid them when possible.

                                I've been in a relationship with someone who is not vegetarian for over 4 years (though we eat vegetarian in the home), and that's been an interesting learning experience. It's certainly made me think a little harder and in slightly less binary ways about eating meat, but it hasn't turned me back into an omnivore either.

                                I don't know what will happen in the future, so I try never to predict what my diet will look like in a year, or 10, or 20.

                                I'm glad to see this thread; certainly there are a lot of Chowhounds who are a little hostile towards those of us on the vegetarian side of the fence. Veganism seems especially to piss people off. There's the kind of macho Anthony Bourdain thing about being as pro-bacon and anti-vegan as possible. I can understand why vegetarianism touches on some really hot buttons for some people, but it's still not fun when people take it so personally.

                                I have to say, though, that I have a really hard time with the "raw foods" thing. Maybe I'm a little overly sensitive about it because I feel like people conflate raw foodism with veganism a lot (and I know there is some degree of overlap), but I really do feel like the whole raw foods thing is a little wacky, at least as a day to day thing, rather than just as a periodic fast.

                                1. I sometimes envy the omnivores who can toss a hunk o'meat in a pan and call it dinner.

                                  Vegetarian food is more time-consuming to do well.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: comestible

                                    Yes, that's all we omnivores do; just randomly toss hunks of meat in a pan. Any food can be as simple or "time-consuming" as you desire. And the view that anyone who isn't an avowed vegetarian eats meat constantly is a bit simplistic. I generally do salads for lunch and have long periods where we just don't have meat meals. Being an "omnivore" means that you have a range of culinary choices, it doesn't mean that you adhere to one type of eating to the exclusion of anything else.

                                    1. re: ferret

                                      I didn't say that's ALL omnivores do. But my omnivorous wife and son do that quite often: steak on the grill or in the pan, no accompaniments. It's undeniably easy, but then so is eating a celery stalk, I suppose.

                                      1. re: comestible

                                        That's just being lazy, has nothing to do with food choices. Could just as easily apply to someone eating EasyMac.

                                        1. re: ferret

                                          Simple doesn't have to mean lazy. Some foods are best when not prepared too fussily, and I think it's true that being able to do a simple preparation of meat or eggs can often give you a satisfying meal more quickly than to do something vegetable based. I don't miss eating meat, and I don't mind spending the effort to cook foods that line up with my personal beliefs, but it does sometimes involve a lot of preparation-heavy work.

                                      2. re: ferret

                                        The point is that that is possible precisely because of the "range of culinary choices." I am an omnivore and when I feel tired and hungry and want something fast I will usually cook meat or fish because it is simple and filling and doesn't require gussying up to be marvelous. Making a vegetarian meal which is as satisfying takes more time, or at least pre planning.

                                    2. I've been a semi-vegetarian for over 30 years..
                                      Had a pet steer when I was young and he was the coolest animal ever and I knew one day he was going to Mr. Slaughterhouse and I left the barn door open so he could escape, which he did but they caught him.. : (
                                      I crave a burger or a patty melt once or twice a year and I'll eat it but halfway through, I freak what I'm eating and give the rest to my husband.
                                      I don't begrudge anyone who eats meat..love when my DH gets a Ribeye or Filet and I encourage it, since I don't cook it at home.
                                      Never liked meat when I was young..
                                      I love seafood, cheeses and veggies..
                                      My favorite dishes are vegan patty melts, grilled veggies over risotto, microgreen salads that kick serious ass with lots of flowers, nuts, cheeses, with homemade vinaigrettes.

                                      1. My grandmother's fried tomatoes with milk gravy over white bread is my favorite of all time. It was the only thing I would overeat as a child. Close second is a tomato and lettuce sandwich on white bread. These days I have it on whole wheat and add a few avocado slices.