Pesco-Vegetarian in the South

08 Apr

At last, the curious fact of my being pesco-vegetarian in the South will be revealed, as it’s certainly different and somewhat difficult at times.

For those of you who are unaware, a pesco-vegetarian or pescatarian is someone who eats fruits, vegatables, grains, dairy, and seafood, but no land animals- thus, I do not eat beef, pork, lamb, or poultry of any sort.

The question often arises about why exactly I decided to become pesco-vegetarian, and the answer itself is rather lengthy and subtle. Most people probably have too little patience to hear out the real response, and oddly, I myself at times at not fully sure why I don’t eat meat.

The idea of being vegetarian first came up in high school when I read a book that included natural remedies and advice on general health. A vegetarian diet, specifically, was recommended. At the same time, I was highly interested in Buddhism and Eastern religions, many of which recommend vegetarianism as a more humane way of life. On and off during high school, I entertained vegetarianism, but I never fully committed to the lifestyle.

My cousins also became vegetarians around the same time, and this helped to influence me- the idealism, learning how the meat industry works, learning the very real dangers of meat consumption, all in addition to the compassion for suffering animals.

In college, I became a vegetarian for one month at one point, and then later on for about four months. This happened spontaneously, as I realized one day in December I had gone several days without eating meat and tried to see how long I could go.

The most recent time, I came to a compromise of being a pesco-vegetarian. Seafood is a fail-safe for protein intake, and that leaves me with at least a few options on the menu.

So, what really drove the vegetarianism this time? I watched a girl stroke the breast of a duck one day, and in a single instant, I recognized the heartbeat of the duck, the life of that beat within it, and that to end such a heartbeat was a horrific and cruel thing- and from that moment, I vowed to not eat meat.

To me, on a spiritual level, it seemed quite clear that God didn’t want me to eat meat. The experience was subtle, immediate, and a complete change.

Since then, I’ve had little desire to consume meat at all. I’ve smelled some delicious meat before and seen, often on TV, dishes that looked tasty, but all in all, I don’t miss it. The reality is that I’ve never liked beef much at all- I despise steak and the taste of ground beef, whether in a hamburger or otherwise (though I did like meatloaf); pork was tasty but usually too salty; eating a lamb or a goat always seemed horrific either way; and even though I find chickens to be ugly and somehow ferocious, the texture of chicken always seemed unpalatable as well.

Being a pesco-vegetarian causes reactions in the South. My father often forgets or simply refuses to acknowledge that I don’t eat meat, for instance.

I’ve been a vegetarian for over a year now, and that’s an extreme track record in my opinion.

Other people don’t understand why I don’t like meat, or ask silly questions such as, "If you don’t eat meat, then what do you eat?" as though there are no other food groups beyond meat.

The problem lies in how often meat is an ingredient in food, especially frozen food. Try finding pizza rolls that are only cheese (done it) or Hot Pockets that are only cheese (done it, they do exist!) or any other kind of frozen food that only requires heating up that does not include meat. It’s extremely difficult! More often that not, chicken, beef, or pork finds its way into the food, and thus it is no longer an option.

Meat substitutes made from soy exist, and they work beautifully in these recipes. Seriously. I can’t tell the difference between the meat substitute and the actual product, and if my cousin wasn’t a vegetarian, I would not have believed her when I ate the Morning Star crumbles in her spaghetti sauce and on pizza.

In the South, being a vegetarian forces one to be more creative and to learn how to cook recipes from other cultures that don’t emphasize meat as the central portion of a meal. I’ll detail those adventures later on and expand upon the vegetarian lifestyle here in the South.

Happy dining and try some soy if you never have!


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Posted by on April 8, 2010 in food


8 responses to “Pesco-Vegetarian in the South

  1. Doc

    April 8, 2010 at 1:11 am

    I tried vegetarianism (even macrobiotics, for awhile) for many years, off and on. Invariably, the Call of the Chilidog was too strong… But if it “does it” for you, more power to you!

    • enamouredslave

      April 8, 2010 at 2:56 am

      It’s always possible to have a veggie dog, though you have to be careful and find a good brand- the smart dogs are terrible.

      Chili can be made with the Morning Star crumbles and would make an excellent topping to the veggie dogs.

      • pocketsofempty

        April 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

        Smart Dogs ARE pretty miserable. I’ve heard good things about Yves’ veggie dogs though. And, of course, Morningstar makes them.

      • enamouredslave

        April 8, 2010 at 4:20 pm

        The only kind of veggie dog I’ve had from Morning Star, so far, is the Italian Sausage, which was absolutely delicious- my friends and I really enjoyed them.

        Patty sausages are the superior food made by Morning Star, in my humble opinion.

      • Doc

        April 8, 2010 at 2:51 pm

        Oh, but the Sonic chilidog – and Wienerschitzel!

      • enamouredslave

        April 8, 2010 at 4:19 pm

        Yes, I suppose there ARE some varieties of sausage that one cannot actually substitute, so I can see how that creates a hurdle. I’m hungry right now, so a chili dog sounds like a capital idea.

  2. pocketsofempty

    April 8, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    So true! Even in Mobile, a port-city, it’s hard to be pesco-vegetarian. I get a lot of weird reactions from people all the time. My dad also was slow to acknowledge the large lacking of meat in my diet, but eventually came to accept it. Looking back on it, I can’t believe I ever ate any pork, beef or chicken to begin with.

    It’s hard, too, if I’m to go out to eat with friends and, though there’s fish on the menu, it’s generally fried. I try not to eat that much fried anything for various reasons, which is a feat in itself in the South. However, as we’ve discussed before, it leads to interesting culinary creations that you can make yourself.

    I, too, like Morningstar. They have a lot of good meat alternatives, and are very very tasty. Soy is my friend. I drink soy milk, too, rather than dairy milk. It tastes better.

    • enamouredslave

      April 8, 2010 at 4:21 pm

      The fried part bothers me as well, though with my recent obsession with Julia Child, I’ve been using more butter and less EVOO. Sometimes the butter actually just works better for the food, in my opinion.


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