Although the meat-centric cuisine culture of Norway may not be the most supportive environment, this vegetarian has started to ponder the idea of becoming a vegan. I’ll pause while you let that sink in.
I know this seems a bit drastic coming from the woman who devoted an entire blog post and many hours of her life to cheese, in its many forms. Cheddar, gouda, mozzarella, parmesan, havarti. Do I even have to mention brie? And my mouth is now watering. Damnit.
The problem is that those pesky reasons why I chose vegetarianism in the first place (the environment, genetic modifications, health concerns, labor issues, animal cruelty and morality) also apply to animals that are used for dairy-farming. Perhaps this is common sense, maybe I should have realized this from the start. But I didn’t think about it, I didn’t want to perhaps, and I felt that the choice I had made was enough.
We can kid ourselves, humans seem to be experts at that, and say that we will commit to buying meat from sources that farm sustainably, abstain from chemical, hormonal and antibiotic treatments and slaughter humanely. We can continue that joke and say we could also apply it to the dairy we buy. But the truth is that finding meat and cheese that fit the bill is not only extremely difficult, confusing and inconvenient, but also cost-prohibitive. We want our meat cheap and in large quantities, and to that end we sacrifice health and humanity. To buy a hamburger whose origins wouldn’t turn our stomachs and weigh on our consciences would cost us more than every item on the McDonald’s Dollar Menu combined, thereby defeating the purpose of that disturbing bill of fare.
As time goes on, I become more comfortable explaining my reasoning to people when they ask about my vegetarianism. Oddly, when people discover that you don’t eat meat they often become defensive and accusatory. Because of that, I used to shy away from discussions about my choice. Gradually I have found words to explain my feelings, words that are honest but tactful, informative but not punitive. And sometimes people listen, and sometimes they ask more questions, and sometimes they roll their eyes.
Frankly, what most people think about my well-thought-through decision doesn’t really bother me. But when David and I talk about it, I’m more sensitive. His opinions matter to me. His decisions regarding his health, some of which include decisions about food, matter to me. I do not make a point of imposing vegetarianism on others, not even on Dave, the person I break bread with most often. So when he makes changes, inconvenient decisions, and leaps of faith to support me and change his own paradigm, it means a lot. Behold, homemade vegan chili, slaved over by David and David only, hot and ready when I got home from work.
With the support of this particular personal chef, I am willing to bet my exploration of veganism will be much more interesting and much more satisfying.