On being vegetarian

We are often asked (to our general amusement) how we could possibly enjoy good food and not eat meat.  I first experimented with being vegetarian my first year at college, and I haven't seriously considered going back to eating meat ever since. At first I was so worried about protein that I tended to put cheese in everything or create meat-less versions of meat dishes. As I became more comfortable cooking new foods though, especially so-called peasant foods from other countries, I began to expand my palette and create my own food style.

When our son was born, we became even more interested in organic food production, and soon made a conscious effort to buy mostly organic, local if possible, and to eliminate most pre-packaged food items in our larder. Now, although we spend more comparatively than our friends on food, we believe strongly that we are both contributing locally and eating very well.

In fact, the hardest part now about being vegetarian isn't cooking at home—that is surprisingly easy—but rather eating away from home. The most challenging times are traveling to countries that don't have a strong non-meat food culture. In some parts of France, for instance, dining out can be difficult, particularly in smaller towns; however, most Italian restaurant menus include vegetarian choices (although in coastal towns, there is a tendency to fill the menus with seafood!). We have found the best solution is to avoid staying long periods in hotels but rather stay in self-catering apartments.

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