The Vegetarian Life Then And Now
There was a time, say thirty or forty years ago, when vegetarians had a hard time telling non-vegetarians why it was so imperative to give up meat. The situation was exacerbated because vegetarians back then did not get the support from the food manufacturers and supermarkets that they do now either. In brief, it was far harder to be a vegetarian than it is now.
Furthermore, in those far off days, many hippies and others adopting 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 might never cross such a person’s mind to crave a bacon sandwich with tomato sauce or a French dip beef sandwich au jus, because the idea is abhorrent to them.
They have not had to take a conscious decision or a vast physical effort to cut 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 craved ‘bacon butties’ (sandwiches) for the rest of his life. He found it difficult.
His reasons for giving up meat were fairly typical: he objected to the callousness to animals that is brought about by intensive farming methods in some countries; he objected to the use of hormones and preservatives in live animals and he thought that eating so much meat was not a sustainable lifestyle for a burgeoning world population, that was becoming steadily rich enough that everybody 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 hard to escape pictures and hoardings marketing their products. Although the situation is better these days, restaurants still cater usually to the meat-eaters and vegetarian meals always appear small and expensive 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 but 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.
Owen Jones, the writer of this piece writes on several subjects, but is currently concerned with vegetarian recipes for kids. If you want to know more or check out some great offers, please go to our site at Vegetarian Sandwich Recipes.