The Vegetarian Label

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Lunch came early:

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I had veggie soup:

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And crackers, hummus, and sugar snap peas (which were really plump and delicious!):

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Oh, and a cookie:

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Let’s Talk Labels

 

Meghann, Megan, and I had a conversation about feeling guilty for eating meat.  Now, Meghann and Megan are not vegetarians (but they don’t eat meat-focused diets) and I’m obviously a vegetarian, so there were some interesting opinions to be discussed. 

 

One thing we were discussing is when meat-eating bloggers express that they feel "weak" or "bad" when they feature meat-based meals on their blogs.  They frequently apologize for it.  We decided there are two reasons why this was happening:  1) they actually feel conflicted about eating meat or 2) they don’t feel conflicted about eating meat, but they feel like they "should" feel conflicted, so they express that accordingly.

I’ve been 100% vegetarian for about five months now, and honestly, it’s been great.  I actually LIKE having the vegetarian label because I feel like it makes my decision more "real" and a stronger commitment.  But, I had my first so-called "moment of weakness" last weekend.  During the family BBQ, I could smell the scallops on the grill and it triggered something inside me.  For about 20 seconds, I really debated eating a scallop.  I think this is something most vegetarians don’t feel comfortable discussing, but I believe it’s fairly common to at least  "crave" meat once or twice.  I ate meat almost everyday until I was 24 and have been conditioned to like it.  It’s not surprising that something would be triggered deep inside me by the smell of cooking meat. 

What I’m saying is that I can understand why some people feel conflicted about eating meat.  It tastes good, but it doesn’t necessary FEEL good. 

There are several reasons why I don’t eat meat: the treatment of animals, the environmental impact of factory farms, the treatment of farm workers, and my health.  That doesn’t mean I think you’re immoral or evil if you eat meat!   If you WANT to eat meat, please don’t feel guilty for living your life the way you want to live it.  No one is here to tell you what to do or how to feel.  On the other hand, if you feel conflicted about eating meat, listen to those emotions and honor them. You can honor those emotions by going 100% vegetarian or becoming a flexitarian who only eats meat occasionally.  Either way, you’re doing the animals and the environment a favor.

 

By the way, this thought process set off an interesting round of comments on Twitter about what qualifies you as a vegetarian or not.  Now, I know people consider labels to be kind of pointless, but they do mean something to a lot of people (including myself because, as I wrote above, it helps me maintain my commitment to the vegetarian lifestyle to be labeled as such).  But I’m going to go ahead and argue that if you eat fish, you’re not a vegetarian — you’re a pescetarian. 

 

This Twitter discussion brought up the face rule, which I think a lot of vegetarian subscribe to — i.e. if it has a face, you won’t eat it.  I think the face rule is really funny!  FYI — scallops have eyes and thus have faces.  šŸ™‚

 

Do you label yourself as a meat-eater, flexitarian, pescetarian, vegetarian, or vegan?  Do you believe there is something to be said for labels, or is it just silly to label yourself one way or the other?

 

In the end, all that matters is that you make your own decisions about what is right and healthy for YOU!

{ 121 comments }

 

  • Jessica September 18, 2009, 8:55 am

    I love your honesty. I am teetering between vegetarian and flexitarian!

  • Jennifer @ His N' Her Health September 18, 2009, 8:58 am

    I follow the label as a vegetarian. If it has a heart or a face I don't eat it! However, my mom became a vegetarian for a month to try it out and hasn't gone back to meat, but she doesn't label herself as a vegetarian and thinks she will be more of a flexitarian. Personally the label works for me, but I understand it doesn't work for everyone. I don't really get a craving for meat exactly, but sometimes when I am getting a lame dinner salad (because that is all I can eat at a restaurant) and everyone else is loving their dishes it sort of sucks. I just think about why I am doing this and how it makes me feel and I get over it.

    Sorry, I wrote a book šŸ™‚

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) September 18, 2009, 9:00 am

    I am a flexitarian for sure. I am trying to get less meat for health reasons but I haven't given it up completely. Mostly because I struggle with coming up with filling vegetarian meals. I have been challenging myself lately with buying more veggies though. And I don't really eat soy. (for health reasons)

  • Janel September 18, 2009, 9:00 am

    Interesting post. No real need for any type of eating label if you just eat good food that's good for you, and makes you feel your best… meat, veggies, fish, or faceless. Whatever you please is YOUR diet šŸ™‚

  • Meghann September 18, 2009, 9:02 am

    I'm anti-label. I'm also a die hard foodie. I like to taste and sample everything. I like food that taste good. I also like to experience different cultures and sample what their food is. I like having the flexibility in my eat habits to do all those things. I hate it when my co-workers or friends refer to me a vegetarian because I'm not. I hate that label. Yes, I eat a fairly meat-less diet but I enjoy it and I like having the option to eat meat when the mood arises.

  • Runeatrepeat September 18, 2009, 9:03 am

    I don't like labels because I don't want to feel pinned down on what I eat. I am most closely a pescatarian, but there are times that I take a bite of Ben's food. I don't want to have to explain that most of the time I am "X", but today I did "Y".

    I eat what I want – most of the time my body does not want meat.

    But if it does I want to be free to eat it. I think this goes back to the challenge I've been having with Intuitive Eating too – if I say I "can't" or "don't" eat something it really sets off bad things in my head.

  • talesfromtwocities September 18, 2009, 9:06 am

    Interesting post-I consider myself a flexitarian, I never prepare meat at home but eat it out sometimes. I've tried to go veggie before or have sometimes gone several weeks w/o meat not realizing and I've found it makes me lethargic and crave sugar – odd I know! Was discussing w/ one of my vegetarian friends and she said there is a book that addresses this and some blood types are not as suited to vegetarianism as others – interested to investigate that more.

  • Whitney@whitsgettingfit September 18, 2009, 9:06 am

    I labeled myself flexatarian for a long time, when in fact I was a pescatarian (I did eat fish). I slowly eliminated all meat from my diet and now I call myself 'vegetarian' but it took a long time to call myself that. I personally am not a huge fan of labels, just because I don't like restricting food and people into 'groups'.

    That being said, being a vegetarian is important to me, and something I don't hesitate to tell people. I don't want to be faced with an awkward situation where I am offered meat and have to turn it down. That often comes across as rude or judgemental to some, when I don't mean it that way AT ALL! I usually just tell people flat out, hey I'm a vegetarian, I don't like to eat animals, but if you do, well I'm cool with it.

    It all comes down to personal choice, which I find important, which is also why I hate labels. I feel like labels limit your choices.

  • Abby (Nibble, Nourish, Run) September 18, 2009, 9:07 am

    I guess my label is meat-eater…but a VERY picky meat-eater. I 100% refuse to eat meat that isn't organic, humanely treated, pasture raised, grass-fed, and preferably local. I have a local butcher who knows every one of his suppliers and the conditions in which the animals are raised. Also a HUGE fan of the farmer's market for finding local meat. You can actually TALK to the farmer!

  • Mica September 18, 2009, 9:07 am

    I was actually wondering about this the other day–if vegetarians ever curb physiological reactions like salivating when they smell grilling meat and the like.

    Another thing I don't really get–isn't a flexitarian the same thing as an omnivore?

  • Ryan @ Greens for Good September 18, 2009, 9:08 am

    I proudly label myself as vegan because as you said, it makes the "decision more 'real' and a stronger commitment." I have every reason to love being vegan and therefore have no shame in being labeled.

    However, I agree with everything you said about anyone who chooses to eat meat. FOOD IS YOUR CHOICE! I don't judge other people because they're making their choice and I have made mine. Do what makes you happy and what makes you feel good!!!

  • Denise September 18, 2009, 9:11 am

    I'm a vegetarian – nothing with a face but I do occasionally eat cheese and eggs. I've been a vegetarian for 13 years – on a rare occasion I will crave steak or bacon but only if it's right in front of my face because I can still remember how delicious it tastes! But that doesn't happen often and I've never actually given in and eaten it! šŸ™‚ Good for you making it through 5 months so far. That is amazing!!

  • Anonymous September 18, 2009, 9:12 am

    I have been reading your blog for a while (love it), but have never really felt the need to comment until today. I just want to throw something out there….veganism. I am one, and know it is a very challenging and extreme way to live, but I feel that being a vegetarian, someone who still consumes milk from dairy cows, still significantly supports the industry and the negative impact on our environment. A cow must be constantly impregnanted to produce the milk you consume, while her calf is stolen from her. In modern society , there is no reason we should consume animal products of any type. There are abundant delicious alternatives that are much better for you.

  • Susan September 18, 2009, 9:14 am

    I was a vegetarian for nearly a decade before I started eating meat again. I wasn't one for ethical reasons, the idea of eating dead animals just seriously grossed me out. But as I grew older, I noticed the meat cravings intensified and that "gross-out factor" started to diminish. I started with fish a couple years ago, poultry last fall, and now red meat just over these past couple months. I'm a strong believer in not labeling your eating habits and just going with the flow.

    To be honest, red meat still grosses me out a lot, but it's freeing to know it's not off-limits if I get a hankering for a burger šŸ™‚

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 18, 2009, 9:14 am

    Anon – I agree with you 100% that from an animals rights and environmental stand point, veganism is the best choice. However, personally, I am just not there yet and I really do not know if I will ever be. I admire your willpower!!!

  • erin September 18, 2009, 9:14 am

    i'm definitely flexitarian. it started as a challenge to me to try not to eat meat for 1 week, then 2 weeks, then i pretty much just didn't cook meat for myself. and i noticed it lowered my cholesterol.

    i'll eat fish every now and then, but not enough. when I go to my parents' they still cook meat, I have the option of not eating it and eating everything else, which is what i usually do.

    I usually do just do veggies and a side of starch for my dinner, sometimes i cook up some of those veggie burgers or something other. or a fish.

    it is easier to just call myself a flexitarian.

  • Anonymous September 18, 2009, 9:15 am

    Do people really call themselves "flexatarian" or "pescatarian"? I've never heard someone verbally call themselves that. Anyways, I do not eat any animal meat (vegetarian) but for some reason I often times hate to tell someone that I'm a "vegetarian". I just feel like they will think I think I'm better than them or something and I don't like getting into the discussion about it either. So often I just say "I don't eat meat" instead of "I'm a vegetarian". You are doing great! Great blog!

  • runnerskitchen September 18, 2009, 9:15 am

    I'm on day 18 on my vegetarian challenge and so far I'm really enjoying it. However, it still feels a little weird to call myself "vegetarian" – this is the longest I've ever gone without eating meat!

    Most of the time I don't crave meat, but this morning I was writing a post about running and nutrition and I realllyyyy started craving a turkey sandwich with hummus.

    I like your comment about things "tasting good, but making us feel bad". Triple chocolate ice cream sundaes might taste good (and you might want to have them once in awhile), but probably won't make you feel your best. Obviously, meat is quite different, but it got me thinking about the connection šŸ™‚

  • Carolina John September 18, 2009, 9:16 am

    we've been going more flexitarian lately. it's not a bad route at all!

  • Amanda (Two Boos Who Eat) September 18, 2009, 9:16 am

    I love that you (and others) have said that "food is your choice." I feel like eating styles is a very personal decision and it's nice that we can talk openly about it.

  • Lizzy September 18, 2009, 9:17 am

    good question…

    i would consider myself a flex because when and if i eat meat its literally 1 time during the day, and thats dinner time, because my mom prepares either chicken or turkey something along those lines, but when i make my own meals i never make a meat based meal for myself. i love veggies and all other things non meat related!

    to me a label is a label. someday i do hope to become a full veg but for right now i'm a flex and am happy to have the label!

  • Lara September 18, 2009, 9:18 am

    I have noticed those "excuse me for eating meat" posts on other blogs as well and always wondered about it. I do think it falls into the "social comparison" cateogry.

    I am a pescetarian and have been so for about 20 yrs now. I was vegetarian for a while before that and feel so much better adding fish/seafood to my diet.

    I don't think one needs to give up meat in order to be "green" or "humane". It is very possible to get humanely raised, non-commerical farmed meat.

  • Nancy September 18, 2009, 9:18 am

    Hey Caitlin,

    I know this is off topic, but do you know why eatliverun is down??

  • Jackie September 18, 2009, 9:19 am

    I don't think labels work for everyone. Like you said, for you it shows your commitment to your ideals about food/environment issues. I was a vegetarian for 5 years (I stopped because my body wasn't absorbing plant protein that well and I had extreme headaches and rashes) and during that time the label always made me feel like an outsider. I know that for many however, the outsider label can be a badge of honor so that works for them. These days I'm all about eating what makes you feel at your best both mentally and physically, no labels for me.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 18, 2009, 9:20 am

    Nancy – She's so popular that her blog crashes constantly. šŸ™‚ It will be back soon!!

  • Rosie September 18, 2009, 9:20 am

    Hey Caitlin, great post topic! Kyle and I debate our eating choices pretty often and I think a major factor of this is that people [errr, he] feel judged or condemned because they don't share the same life choices as others.

    I am a vegan, but I suppose some people wouldn't consider me a vegan because I'm not as "die hard" as I could be. [honey, the occasional dairy product.] I do strive to make my vegan counterparts proud, but sometimes ingredients can slip in on you and your guard can be let down. When I first went vegetarian, I craved meat a few times. But weirdly, it was meat that I didn't normally eat.

    The primary reason for being a vegan for me is my personal health. Very, very, very close behind is the welfare of animals.

    Ultimately, I think that everyone should make a decision based on what works for them! And as imperfectly beautiful humans, we should embrace and accept any of those decisions.

    Sorry, about the 15 chapters! haha. I think I'll have to expand on my vegan thoughts on my blog. lol. Have a great day!

  • Erin September 18, 2009, 9:20 am

    The third option, for people not wanting to be vegetarians, is to practice Ethical Eating (on my blog).

    Support local farmers who practice humane and sustainable farming. Who raise animals in healthy conditions. Etc.

  • Carrie H September 18, 2009, 9:20 am

    I haven't eaten meat or anything with a "face" for about three months now, but I do have the cravings sometimes. Last night I dreamt I ate a hot roast beef sandwich! So strange … sometimes when I have "meat dreams" I feel like a recovering drug addict or something! Ha ha. Do you ever have those, or am I just crazy? šŸ™‚

    Sometimes I feel bad for eating yogurt, eggs, milk-based stuff … but I'm not ready to give that up yet. I've made the committement to myself to go six months eating nothing with "faces" and reassess my diet at the end of the year — I'll decide then if I'm going back to flexatarian, staying like I am now or going even deeper into vegetarianism or veganism …

    The food we put into our bodies is a choice I think we all should consider instead of blindly eating what our "culture" might tell us to eat. There are certain issues I feel this way about: the clothes we wear (were they made in a sweat shop?), the religion we follow (do we really believe, or have we simply not experienced anything else), etc. Thanks for your honesty!

  • Neely September 18, 2009, 9:21 am

    I've gone from Vegetarian to Vegan back to Vegetarian to Pescetarian.

    My only reason is ethical treatment of animals rasied and farmed for food. I am against inhumane treatment of animals.

    That said, I eat fish. I only eat wild caught fish and stay away from farmed fish. I also eat dairy but try my best to make the humane choices (farm-to-table, free-roaming, etc.) No one is perfect and I have slipped when choosing at restaurants, etc. and probably have eaten something farmed.

    I am not against eating animals overall, but against factory farming. If I knew an animal lived a decent life and was killed very humanely I would not object to eating it. I do not think they are equal to humans. They deserve humane treatment, however. (The dairy industry is actually just as heinous as factory farming).

    Anything that anyone can do to help the environmental impact of factory farming and the elimination of cruelty is good. I try not to judge others as I myself could be called a hypocrite in this situation.

    When I was a vegan I was extrememly judgmental on others and kind of self-rightous a lot of the time. Not saying all vegans are, but everyone must have a positive attitude on this and not an "all-or-nothing" IMO.

  • Anne P September 18, 2009, 9:23 am

    It's funny that you chose today to bring up this topic because I actually just sat down to read this while having a buffalo burger for lunch! I hadn't had red meat in I can't even remember how long, but I've decided to start having it about once a week again because I think I have an iron defficiency. I've been getting cracking on the sides of my mouth, and I thought it was just dryness from running more and sweating a lot and hot weather, but I looked it up online and interestingly, it's often caused by an iron defficiency, which would make sense since I don't eat meat, especially red meat, almost ever.

    Anyway, that was a long winded way of saying that I agree with what Meghann and Run,Eat,Repeat said. I mostly do the pescatarian thing, but I like keeping my options open and don't like ruling things out, especially when at an awesome restaurant or tasting other people's food. I'm fine with labels and all that, and respect vegetarians and vegans (as long as they don't try to be all uppity about it and push it on others – I really hate that), but for me, I think keeping things flexible, while sticking mostly with the pescatarian style diet, is the way to go. Personal choice šŸ™‚

    Great post!

  • Annamarina (Running Tails) September 18, 2009, 9:25 am

    Interesting info. on vegetarians, flexitarians, and pescetarians! There have been times when I have considered becoming a vegetarian, but there are certain meats that I enjoy too much to cut them out at this point. At most I eat meat once a day, but there are some days when I eat none at all. However, I only buy organic meat and I try to research which companies have the most humane practices. One day maybe I will give up meat completely, but I'm not ready yet!

  • Carrie H September 18, 2009, 9:26 am

    P.S. I never even liked roast beef anyway! Ha ha, I much would have preferred chicken or turkey or salmon over roast beef … silly dreams.

    šŸ™‚

  • RhodeyGirl September 18, 2009, 9:26 am

    I really hate it when people call me a vegetarian or a "health food nut", because really, I don't consider myself to be either.

    Yes I love healthy, fresh food and I do eat a mostly plant based diet, but I also love cookies and I love love LOVE fish. And if PB were to make cheesesteaks at home, using hormone free beef, I would eat it.

    I think it is interesting that many consider those who rarely eat meat to be vegetarians, when in fact many of the people in the generations before us ate just like that. My grandmother often shares stories of eating a chicken maybe.. MAYBE.. once every other week, and the rest of the time the family lived on beans, rice, vegetables, fruits, cheese and other local foods. Beef, chicken, and fish were for special occasions or at least rare, as they were pricey.. and honestly, just not part of the food culture.

    Even my own mom used to share stories of rarely eating beef or chicken. They used to eat a lot of pasta with veggies, polenta with veggies and beans, and sometimes fish and meat.

    I wonder when the change happened that now people think you are a vegetarian if you eat a meal with no meat. It is so weird to me. When did meat move from seldom eaten to must-be-on-your-plate-every-night????

  • Suzanne September 18, 2009, 9:26 am

    Something I didn't see mentioned was eating meat from organic, free range, local farms. There is a difference between eating that type of meat and meat from factory farms. I consider myself a flex-pesceterian because I usually eat fish but will eat meat once and awhile and am picky in regards to where my meat comes from. I only feel guilty and dwell on my guilt if I eat something from a fast food place or something. This is something that is such a rarity.. a drastic change from only a few years ago!

  • Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness) September 18, 2009, 9:26 am

    I was vegetarian for the majority of my teen years and my early 20s. For me, that meant no dead animals, including fish. I did eat dairy and eggs. For the past several years, I've been a straight up omnivore with no labels. I agree with you that if you eat fish, you aren't really a vegetarian, at least as far as I'm concerned. And, I find the term "flexitarian" kind of annoying and pointless. Do you really need a term to describe the fact that you sometimes eat meat, and sometimes don't? I've never understood that one.

  • Neely September 18, 2009, 9:27 am

    I just read my post and I perfectly illustrate my point of not judging for doing the best you can even if you are a hypocrite somewhat. I certainly sound like one lol.

  • Anne P September 18, 2009, 9:27 am

    Just wanted to add one thing – I do believe strongly in going for local, naturally raised, organic, grass-fed, etc. meat products. Very important to at least do that much!

  • Megan @ Megzz Wins At Life September 18, 2009, 9:27 am

    I hope i don't affend anyone by my comment and I am not going to make this anon.. I eat meat.. I actually really enjoy meat… That being said I do feel guilt when I have meat but at this point in my life I am not ready to give up meat. Last week I had meatloaf for dinner and I was contemplating whether I should post it or not because I dind't want to offend anyone. I ended up posting the meat because that is what I enjoyed that night for my dinner. I do not eat meat everyday and I don't center my meals around meat. Growing up everynight for dinner we would have a meat, veggie, potatoe and salad. I grew accustomed to that lifestyle. I don't think we should label people. Everyone is different and we all believe in different lifestyles. For me, I really enjoy cooking healthy meals whether they contain meat or they don't. I am sorry in advance if I offended anyone.

  • Lauren @ Dragonflies Journey September 18, 2009, 9:28 am

    I think the label thing can help some people stay on track. I became a vegetarian two months ago due to my two hormonal conditions. With the amount of hormones being pumped into meat in America, the hormones were counteracting with my therapies and causing horrible side affects. I chose to completely cut it out and I feel fantastic. I am a full "vegetarian." No meat and no seafood.

    But I will say that people should eat the foods that make them feel the best. That's it. No concern with labels or names, just eat what you know is healthiest for your body.

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 18, 2009, 9:28 am

    Megan – I think you really should not feel offended and remember that the vast majority of Americans (and blog readers) eat meat and probably really enjoyed hearing about your meat loaf. šŸ™‚

  • Lindsay September 18, 2009, 9:29 am

    I'm a flexitarian! I don't like most meat and I don't ever order it at restaurants, but if it's served to me I'll eat it. I'm allergic to soy and not a huge fan of dairy or beans so I eat meat once in a while to get my protein in.

  • Janna September 18, 2009, 9:30 am

    I would call myself a Flexitarian. I eat a largely vegan diet. However, once in a while I'll have dairy, eggs or fish. I really admire the vegan lifestyle, however, at this point I don't think I could do it completely because I feel that there are important nutrients that you can only truly get from occasionally consuming animal based products. Hence, flexitarian!

  • Sarah @ The Foodie Diaries September 18, 2009, 9:33 am

    I definitely fall into the flexitarian category–though I never label myself. I truly try to eat what I crave. Usually it's veggies and fish. On occasion, it's chicken (like this week!). I like being "unlabeled" because I'm still learning a lot about what I like, what my body likes and what I think and feel strongly about eco/animal wise. I understand why the label works for some people–especially those with sure convictions about their dietary choices.

  • Ashley September 18, 2009, 9:33 am

    I was a vegetarian for five years and I guess if I had to label myself now, it would be flexitarian. I never buy meat, but will eat salmon at a restuarant or at my boyfriends maybe once a week. Chicken or steak I rarely eat.

    What's wierd though, is as a runner i've found after ever half marathon and marathon I run, I really, really crave steak and that's the only time I do. It makes me wonder if biologically, our body needs meat.

    I love your granola bar idea by the way! What flavor do you get of the Kashi bars and how many calories are in each individual package? Thanks!

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 18, 2009, 9:34 am

    Ash – I get the roasted almond one and there are 180 cals in each.

  • Kat (Kat's Daily Plate) September 18, 2009, 9:38 am

    I was a vegetarian for 8 years and started eating meat in January. I had been dealing with a balance disorder for a year, coupled with extreme fatigue. I was craving meat all the time but never let myself have it because I had to be a "good vegetarian."
    Now that I have made the switch, I have never felt better. I eat lean meat (turkey and sometimes chicken) and a lot of fish (tuna, salmon, cod, trout). I rarely eat red meat, but I love that now, when I crave a hamburger, I go eat one.
    I am happy to no longer be living with a label, and to be able to eat what I want when I want it, all while trying to make the most ethical choices I can- cage free eggs, ethically raised meat, organic, etc. I still love vegetarian meals, and often just crave tofu or beans with veggies at lunch and dinner…. I think this is because I ate this way for so long.
    I am so happy I made the switch to incorporating meat into my diet and listened to my body!

  • Amy September 18, 2009, 9:38 am

    @Megan @ Megzz Wins At Life

    I don't think you should be worried about offending anyone my friend! šŸ™‚

  • Dawn (HealthySDLiving) September 18, 2009, 9:42 am

    I would have to say I'm a flexitarian!
    It's weird because I don't ever really crave meat and I don't eat it too often–I LOVE vegetables and fruit and anything meatless.
    I've been thinking about trying to go a month without any meat and see how I feel!

  • Lara September 18, 2009, 9:47 am

    I've told people I'm kind of a "weekday vegetarian" but I'm not really into the labels. I love eating seafood/sushi when I eat out.

  • Samantha~ September 18, 2009, 9:47 am

    Right now, I do eat meat. Since joining this blog community, I have learned a lot about eating organic food, and different reasons for people choosing to be vegetarian. While I don't want to give up meat, I would like to start eating more organic meat. This is more than likely more expensive, so I will have to cut down on how much meat I do eat, but I won't give it up completely. It will be a new challenge for me to find different sources of protein to add to my meals.

  • haya September 18, 2009, 9:48 am

    i'd say i'm a flexitarian, but that is kind of a cop out of actual labelling since there are no actual rules about how much of this or what of that you eat. maybe that is why i like it (mostly think labels are not something to get super worked up about but if you're going to label yourself, you should be accurate)

  • brandi September 18, 2009, 9:50 am

    I don't label myself, mainly because I go through phases with what i WANT to eat.

    So, I just eat.

    I do think that what Erin said is how I feel:

    "Support local farmers who practice humane and sustainable farming. Who raise animals in healthy conditions. Etc".

    I try to buy as much local stuff as I can: produce, bread, meat, eggs, etc, to support the community around me that do farm and produce their goods in a humane way.

    I'm okay with whatever label anyone else has for themselves; it's definitely a personal choice that everyone has to make.

    and I don't think I'll ever apologize for posting pictures of my food šŸ™‚ It is what it is!

  • Hi! I'm Erin September 18, 2009, 9:51 am

    I could probably become a flexitarian…but my husband throws a fit if I cook something that doesn't have meat in it (except for my ravioli casserole). Since I refuse to cook two separate meals, I eat meat quite a bit. I do, however, try to limit the red meat consumption to once a week or less.

  • Kiersten September 18, 2009, 9:58 am

    I am a vegan. I have been vegan for a year and was vegetarian for about 6 months prior to that. It doesn't really matter what label we place on ourselves, but I do find it a little irritating when someone says they're a vegan and then goes and eats dairy. Or when someone calls themself a vegetarian, but they eat chicken or fish sometimes. People can eat whatever they choose, but it just doesn't make any sense that someone would label themselves one way and then act another way.

    I agee with what you said about people feeling guilty about eating meat. I also think people apologize/make excuses for it because they feel like other people will judge them for it. A lot of vegans don't eat honey, but there are some that do. I've seen people apologize for eating something that has honey and I thik it's because they think that others will label them as a bad vegan.

  • Andrea September 18, 2009, 10:00 am

    I guess if we are talking labels, I would be classified as a flexitarian. It seems to suit me just right. I find great ideas from all the vegetarian food blogs I follow and alter them sometimes just a bit to fit my needs. I think the vegetarian food blogs are inspirational whether you eat meat or not so thank you guys for that!

  • Meg C. September 18, 2009, 10:00 am

    I'm a flexatarian, hardly ever cook meat for myself but often choose it on sandwiches or when eating out.

    I don't eat beef because the thought of it sickens me for some reason – I don't know why, but it does.

    I like to think that I only eat the animals I would kill myself if I had to – fish and birds, mostly. I would not kill a cow or a pig (though I do eat pork from time to time so I'm kinda breaking my own rule).

    I think people should be able to be proud of their decisions about what to eat or not eat – I don't feel bad eating the meats I do eat, I just go with what feels right.

  • Lee September 18, 2009, 10:04 am

    I'm a flexatarian. I was a pescatarian for about 4 years though and whenever someone would label me a a vegetarian, I would quickly correct them. Fish are animals too!

  • Ruby Jayne September 18, 2009, 10:05 am

    I have been a labeled vegetarian for over a year. I actually eat mostly vegan, but I am not so strict with things like honey, baked goods, and I do enjoy dairy products once in a while. Sometimes people take the label so seriously. I really don't like when others tell me, "Oh, you can't eat that." When really, I can eat whatever I want, I just choose to eat different things. And sometimes I do have those meat cravings and I don't see anything wrong with just having one bite. It's the same as not depriving yourself of sweets.

  • Amber (Girl with the red hair) September 18, 2009, 10:07 am

    I eat meat a few times a week – I guess that makes me kind of a flexitarian? I don't really feel guilty for eating it. I try really hard to buy all my food locally.. I really like chicken and seafood but rarely eat red meat!

  • samantha September 18, 2009, 10:07 am

    I am a vegetarian and have been for over 20 years, but sometimes I don't like telling people that. They always wonder what I eat and what I replace meat with. For me I don't really need a meat substitute although occasionally I like a naked cutlet "chicken" curry salad. I think you are doing great for five months into this and I am pretty sure that after a while even the smell won't tempt you much. It is very rare that I crave any sort of meat although it does happen every couple of years. šŸ™‚ I also agree with you that if you eat seafood you are not a vegetarian. I really think people should just eat what they want. If that includes meat then so be it, but I do think we should all be more responsible eaters, know what the treatment of the animals has been, and know what we are putting into our bodies.

  • Julie September 18, 2009, 10:09 am

    I am a pescetarian, but sometimes I do crave chicken sometimes (I never really ate red meat), but I just start to think about how the animals are treated before and after slaughter and it passes. It grosses me out actually. I've been a pescetarian for about 3 months now and it's working for me, I have to confess though, I'm dreading Thanksgiving. I'm the only one in the family who won't be eating the turkey and I feel like they will pressure me to have some because it's a holiday. My family is not the type to support healthy eating styles which sucks. They think it's weird if you don't eat cookies or being fruit as a dessert. I know I am going to feel the pressure and maybe I'll have some…but I know that if I do I'll be beating myself up over it. Plus, I'm afraid to make up for the empty spot on my plate I will oad up on stuffing and casserole and desstert. Ugh!! I guess I will cross that bridge when I get to it, but I like to plan/think ahead/freak myself out too much. *sigh*

  • meagan September 18, 2009, 10:09 am

    interesting post. i've been thinking about this a lot lately.

    i think it goes both ways…sometimes, putting a label on your habits makes the commitment stronger. other times, however, the label just serves to confine/curtail freedom.

    i've been vegetarian and labeled as such, and for those 2 years didn't eat meat, at all. then i went out of the country to a meat eating place for about a month, and after that just eschewed the label.

    now, my views are like meghann's comments. i don't eat a meat centered diet, but i enjoy the flexibility to taste and experience food culture where ever i am.

    good post šŸ™‚

  • Kathleen September 18, 2009, 10:12 am

    I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian since I was 12 off and on tapering down to my late teens when I became strictly veggie. I made the choice because of the morals and because meat grosses me out…eating dead flesh doesn't turn me on. I find the easiest way to explain my decision to people: nothing with a face.

    I don't have cravings for meat (the idea kinda grosses me out after all these years but I do struggle because sometimes I get frustrated that there aren't more veggie friendly options out there!

  • peony in a nutshell September 18, 2009, 10:12 am

    i work in a bakery/cafe at the moment and have always been vegan but the bacon or pasties cooking in the morning ALWAYS make my mouth water šŸ™‚

  • Rose September 18, 2009, 10:20 am

    I don't even want to tell you what happened to me while reading your post, but I have to – though sometime in gchat, because it's too weird to leave in the comments. How's that for intrigue? šŸ™‚

    Anyway, I liked this post a lot. I am a flexitarian. I don't eat a ton of meat. When I do eat meat, it's usually poultry or fish. Hardly ever red meat. Though sometimes I crave it, and that's OK to me.

    I think some bloggers feel bad about posting it because there are so many vegetarians, and sometimes meat is gross to look at, you know?

  • Krista September 18, 2009, 10:22 am

    I eat meat, but have never in my life been a big meat eater. There are times when I go days in a row without it and do not miss it. That being said, I do love fish, poulrty and pork tenderloin. Any other meat I could certainly do without. I've nver, ever labelled myself one way or the other, but my husband calls me a flexitarian. I guess he's probably right! Also, I've never apologized for posting meat related picture's on my blog before. My blog is a reflection of my life, not others belief's. Great topic!

  • jack+alli September 18, 2009, 10:28 am

    i could eat chicken/turkey everyday. however, after reading your blog, i've been trying to eat less meat and substitute it with other sources of protein. i wouldn't label myself as anything yet. i think that as i learn to listen to and identify what my body needs i should be okay. im usually weary of anything too extreme. moderation in all things might be the key. šŸ™‚

  • tracik September 18, 2009, 10:31 am

    I ama vegetarian but not really keen on labels. I just say i don't eat meat.

  • Jenna September 18, 2009, 10:32 am

    very intersting and informative post caitlin! i am not a vegetarian and i do eat meat. i usually only eat white lean meat such as chicken and turkey. i hardly ever eat red meat. i also love getting protein in from other various foods as well šŸ™‚
    jenna

  • VeggieGirl September 18, 2009, 10:34 am

    DOWN WITH LABELS!!

    I say = Just do what is right for you, be well, enjoy life, and don't judge others!! šŸ™‚

  • Kat (Kat's Daily Plate) September 18, 2009, 10:37 am

    I know I already posted on this, but I also wanted to mention one thing.

    One of the biggest environmental problems we face today, in our country and across the globe is the complete takeover of our farms with soy and corn products. As Michael Pollan writes in "In Defense of Food", this has been terribly damaging for the health of our soils and for our diets. This is also very damaging in developing countries, like Brazil, where forrest is being cut down to grow food, and poor people cannot afford vegetables and fruits because they are no longer grown in abundance.

    One of the main triggers for me switching to a diet that incorporated meat was realizing that a vegetarian diet heavy on soy and corn products (i.e. soy milk, ice cream, veggie burgers, fake meat products) was contributing to this huge problem.

    Just wanted to add another side to the debate- being a vegetarian is not necessarily the most environmentally friendly or socially concious way of eating… just like eating meat, it depends on how you do it.

  • Anonymous September 18, 2009, 10:45 am

    I'm not trying to be controversial here, but I truly consider flexitarians and meat-eaters one and the same. If you eat meat, you eat meat. Being more conscious of what you're putting into your body is a truly wonderful thing, but regardless of your intentions you either consume something or you don't!

  • Becky September 18, 2009, 10:47 am

    This is a really interesting post–I love posts that make me think!

    In general, I am an anti-label person. With everything. I think that people are too complex to put labels on. Labels are just definitions people made up anyway, and as we can tell just by the different "vegetarians," people mean a lot of different things with one term. I think labels–political, food, or otherwise–limit people. They try to box people in, or worse they allow people to say "I do this because I AM this," and it replaces self-reflection and re-evaluation of beliefs and stances.

    We're all so complex and individual…we should think of ourselves as complicated individuals instead of categories!

  • Stephanie September 18, 2009, 10:54 am

    I'm with Meghann on this one. I'm just a foodie! I eat what I want, when I want. I looove vegetarian meals but I also eat a lot of fish and ocassionally white meat. Red meat is a very rare thing but this is why I do not label myself, so that when I do want a hamburger, I can do so without the guilt.

  • Lara September 18, 2009, 11:00 am

    I still don't understand why a blogger would worry about offending someone with a post about eating meat? If a person is so senstive that they can't see pictures or read about a food item they don't eat they need to grow a pair šŸ™‚

  • emily September 18, 2009, 11:02 am

    I guess I am a flexitarian – I NEVER (10years) eat mammals but I do occasionally eat fish/fowl.

  • Steph September 18, 2009, 11:02 am

    Great post!

    I'll start by saying that I do like labels. I am a flexitarian-pescitarian! šŸ™‚ Meaning, I don't choose to eat meat when I'm making the meal and I do eat fish often. I'm a flexitarian when it comes to family events. We used to go to dinner at my mom's every Sunday back when I was a vegetarian. I always felt bad for turning down and making a fuss about the food that my mom put so much effort into making. Now, I'll try a bite or two of meat and that's it. It has seemed to work for me!

  • Angie (Losing It and Loving It) September 18, 2009, 11:06 am

    I think it's silly to label ones self only because some people get bent out of shape no matter which way you choose. Everyone should choose what they feel is best for them and that is most important.

    Anyway, I would be labeled a meat eater however I have been very interested in testing out the vegetarian and vegan waters but really not sure if it's for me. I would hope it would help with weight loss but I don't even know where to begin.

    Never knew there was such a thing as flexitarian, pescatarian, etc. See I have a long way to go ha ha

  • Lauren September 18, 2009, 11:14 am

    Hey Caitlin- great insight! I wrote such a similar post on this a few weeks ago. I really think that you hit it right on when you say, "In the end, all that matters is what YOU decide for YOURSELF!" I entirely agree that there is a significant amount of pressure and influence about the consumption of meat in the recent blogging world. But in all honestly, there are significant pressures and influences on ALL and ANY kind of healthy mannorisms in the blogging world. Just think of how much insight you've gained over the past year.
    Yes, there are many well known bloggers who are vegetarin; however, there are also those who do eat meat too….like Kath, Jenna, Tina..etc.
    I totally commend you for sharing your honesty on this. Thanks for revealing your thoughts.

    Have a great day hun!

  • Megan September 18, 2009, 11:17 am

    I consider myself a vegetarian, but when I go to the beach with my family in the summer, I become a pescetarian. It's difficult for me to be at the beach with all of the seafood restaurants and pretend not to crave the fish. So I eat it for a few days at the beach, and I don't again until the following year! People can criticize if they want, but I just can't be at the beach for a few days and avoid the seafood!!!

  • Priyanka loves food September 18, 2009, 11:25 am

    After reading wiki, I discovered that I am polpescetrian. My diet is mainly vegetarian and fish with occasional poultry!

  • Shelly September 18, 2009, 11:28 am

    I currently only eat meat at dinner unless I go out to eat for lunch- in which case I sometimes get meat and sometimes don't. I also don't eat red meat unless I really crave it, which happens maybe once a year.
    I guess that makes me a flex, but I don't really think about it in terms of labels b/c I don't want to say "this is how I HAVE to be."
    The reason I eat meat at dinner is basically because I don't want to make a separate meal for my boyfriend, but he's going out of town during the month of Dec. and I'm toying with the idea of going veg. (or at least pescatarian) for the duration of that month to see how it goes.
    My one worry is that I'm running a half marathon in Dec. (my first) and I don't know if it would be problematic to change up my eating so close to a race. Do you have any thoughts on that?

  • Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point September 18, 2009, 11:29 am

    shelly – as long as you continue to get enough protein and calories, you'll be fine. its easy to eat protein on a vegetarian diet even when you're not eating soy. check out http://www.nomeatathlete.com for more!

  • Mellissa September 18, 2009, 11:36 am

    I really appreciate and enjoy discussions where people can be honest and not judge! I eat meat, I like it and I have no intention of stopping.

    I choose to purchase meat that I know what is in it and where it came from. I also have no qualms about posting a meat dish on my blog. This is my life and how I live.

  • Thinspired September 18, 2009, 11:41 am

    Great topic, Caitlin. I have a friend who says her standard is, "If it had a mother, I don't eat it." I respect informed vegetarians tremendously, and I don't think they should feel any guilt about using the label. Likewise, I don't think we meat-eaters should feel any guilt about conscientious meat consumption. I hope to one day be a flexitarian, but it is tough. Again, you have my RESPECT!

  • Amisha September 18, 2009, 11:42 am

    I was actually brought up a vegetarian and have never eaten meat (except by accident). To be honest, I really dont care what other people eat. I do care about the environmental impacts and the way the animals are treated. (Plus I think it's just gross to eat something dead.) I do mind when people who claim to be vegetarian eat meat and act like it's no big deal. If you want to eat meat occasionally dont label yourself a vegetarian! It makes people think less of the true vegetarians.

  • Chloe (Naturally Frugal) September 18, 2009, 11:42 am

    I would consider myself a flexitarian, and would definitely eat less meat if I didn't live with my boyfriend. Sometimes I try and sneak in meatless meals, and usually he doesn't care but we still eat more meat than I would like.

    Although, I do sub beans for meat a lot of the time so that we can eat the same dinner together, but just with a slight variation. Flexitarian is what works for me now, but I have thought about switching to vegetarian to try it out.

  • arulba September 18, 2009, 11:43 am

    I appreciate your honesty!

    I hadn't even thought about the label yet. I've been a vegetarian for just under 2 months – most of that actually vegan. At this point, I feel like nothing in me is ever going to want meat again. I have not missed it at all and it hasn't even been tempting. But I'm really new to this and I hadn't intended to become a vegetarian at all until I saw Earthlings. Then it was all over!! I don't really have an ethical issue with eating meat in general. I have an ethical issue with the meat industry.

    On the one hand, I hesitate to call myself a vegetarian because I'm so new to it and I toy with eating wild salmon again one of these days (although nothing in me wants it right now -just leaving it open as an option). On the other hand, I think it would be easier to don the label because it would make the decision stick and I wouldn't have to worry about people feeling offended that I haven't eaten there food.

  • Holly September 18, 2009, 11:48 am

    I've been a vegetarian since I was 12 (that's 10 years I just realized!). For a long time for me that label meant I just wouldn't eat meat or fish. In the last few years, I've been pushing the definition of the label a bit farther…basically my new rules are don't eat or do anything that would cause the death of an animal. I haven't eaten gelatin for a long time, and the only leather I purchase is second hand. I've also cut down on my egg and cheese consumption considerably, and only buying those items in a responsible way.

    That being said, I pretty much never get a craving for meat–I don't really even remember what it tastes like any more! The only time meat ever smelled good to me was in college when my friends would order wings–and I think it was the sauce more than the actual meat that smelled good šŸ™‚

  • Stephanie September 18, 2009, 11:50 am

    I just eat what is healthy, natural, tastes good and what my body is telling me it needs — if that happens to be meat than so be it. But that, of course, is just my own personal choice šŸ™‚ My sis is a vegetarian and I am fully supportive!

  • Always Running September 18, 2009, 11:51 am

    I really enjoyed reading this post and everyone's comments. I have recently rebated going full vegetarian. I currenly eat a flexitarian diet and honestly the reason I won't "switch" over is because of the scutiny from friends and family and having to defend myself. I have always eaten meat but in the past few months I realized chicken sort of grosses me out to cook and red meat upsets my stomach. The main reason I would have for going vegetarian is for health and I feel like that isn't a good enough reason to fend off rude questions about my label… guess I'm chickening out (no pun intended šŸ™‚

  • christie, honoring health September 18, 2009, 11:56 am

    Wow, Great discussion going on over here!

    I am an omnivore and have tried cutting out meat over several occasions in my life and my health suffers. So, now, I only buy humanely raised meat from local farmers and sources that I trust. I have a couple of sources for grass fed organic beef, free range chicken and eggs and pasture raised pork. Making these choices and knowing that I am honoring my health take the guilt away for me.

    I don't believe in labels, per say, though I do have to go through the rest of my life with the gluten free label because of health reasons. I also avoid dairy but I try not to call myself "dairy free" because I do not avoid it 100% of the time (hello chocolate!)

    I think that each person has to make their own choices and listen to their bodies. I do not believe that all bodies function well on a vegan diet just as all bodies do not function well on a meat based diet. For me, when I had to give up gluten, I felt a bit lost and started to consume a really high amount of meat and could really feel in my body that meat wasn't my answer. I am still playing trial and error but I have faith that by listening to my body, my food choices will be clear to me. It is not hard for me to pass cakes, pies and bread because I know what the reaction of my body will be.

    I struggled with this for a long time and got really wise advice from my yoga guru. She told me that ahimsa is self care first and those are the words that I live by.

  • Beth @ DiningAndDishing September 18, 2009, 12:02 pm

    I am a meat eater, although I don't eat a lot of meat. I believe in everything in moderation and while meat is not one of my favorite dishes, I think that to cut out one food group entirely would deny me a whole world of interesting tastes and flavors. Not willing to give that up!

  • Cat September 18, 2009, 12:07 pm

    Honestly, I live in a very rural area in a very small town. People don't understand what vegetarian means, let alone pescatarian. I get asked if I eat chicken all the time. If I attempted to use the label you claim is correct for my eating habits: fish/seafood, dairy, eggs and all plant products, then I would have to define it every time. So I call myself a vegetarian. It is a little frustrating when other vegetarians say "You aren't a real vegetarian. I am because I don't eat fish or seafood." Thus, I don't like labels at all, but it has helped define limits for my family and co-workers. They know my preferences because of the vegetarian label.

  • joelle (The Pancake Girl) September 18, 2009, 12:37 pm

    I admit, i'm not much in labeling, but I do consider myself a flexitarian… the lessened amount of meat in my diet has just sort of evolved naturally since living on my own, much to the disstress of my family. I do eat meat, but my relatives tend to get very flustered about how often I eat an entirely vegetarian meal. It's almost funny to see actually… and slightly annoying sometimes. šŸ™‚

  • Christina September 18, 2009, 12:47 pm

    I would label myself a 'flexitarian'. Eating less meat makes me feel much healthier, and I actually PREFER vegetarian meals over meat containing meals. I've recently begun to consider going vegetarian, but if I'm going to go that route I want to be 100% commited to it and I don't feel ready for that yet. I've considered becoming a vegetarian mostly because eating meat-free meals just makes me feel better physically/healthwise, not necessarily due to animal mistreatment, etc.

    Maybe one day I'll commit to a vegetarian lifestyle or maybe I'll just stay a 'flexitarian'. We'll see which way the wind blows!

  • holly mason September 18, 2009, 12:49 pm

    I am a Pescatarian… I have been for over a year and a half now! I think it is important to make that distinction because a vegetarian implies that one would eat NO MEAT and when I am with friends and family I do not want them to be confused on where I stand. I do not want them to think I am a hypocrite and eat fish sometimes.. I eat fish quite often actually… But I do not quite like labels either.. YOU ARE WHAT YOU ARE! That is what I believe…

    I would go farther to call myself a "Conscious Pescatarian" because a) I only eat fish on occasion and (b) I go for "WILD" happy salmon and also for cage free eggs that come from happy chickens… better choice for animals and humans as well (we get more nutrients from happy/free animals/fish)…

  • Lindsay M September 18, 2009, 12:50 pm

    I'm a strict vegan – meaning I don't consume any animal products or byproducts (including leather, in cosmetics, vitamins, etc.) One reason I do stick to the label is for educational purposes. Most people reading your blog probably know the difference between pescatarian, vegetarian, and vegan. But a large portion of the population doesn't understand the difference. When I was vegetarian, once in a while I would be in a situation where I would say something like "are there any vegetarian options?" and get told I could eat fish. Sometimes I will say I'm vegan (or if I'm wearing one of my herbivore shirts, or my motorcycle jacket which has a vegan patch on it) and people will be like "what does that mean?" and I just tell them.

    I've been vegan for almost a year and I was vegetarian for about three years before that, and pescatarian for about a year before that. At first I craved meat once in a while but it totally went away. When I first stopped eating fish – about 6 months in – I was at a nice restaurant and found myself seriously lacking options. I ordered a salad with tuna and as soon as I tried it I was gagging! And I used to eat tuna a couple times a week. I definitely adapted to it. I don't even miss cheese anymore, and that is really something for me!

  • Food Makes Fun Fuel September 18, 2009, 12:54 pm

    I think it is a bit silly to label yourself as anything, except maybe so that you can tell attendants on plains or at hotels what not to put on your plate in a simpler way. I eat pretty much anything and everything. I also like trying different eating styles at different meals, and will make it a purpose to eat vegetarian for lunch often. I want to try eating raw for a meal, and while I recognize the overall diet is a lifestyle, I'm not committing to the lifestyle, I'm committing to a meal. I have to admit, as a meat eater, I have been hesitant to post some meals in which I praise a juicy piece of steak as the end all and be all. A lot of my blog friends are vegitarian or vegan and I feel as though it's insulting in a way to rave about a dish they're in principle against. But I also feel as though it's my blog and meat is apart of my life and I shouldn't feel that shame in posting

  • Nicole September 18, 2009, 1:08 pm

    I eat meat, and I don't have problem with it. I LOVE tenderloin steaks, but then again, I also have researched where my meat comes from. I am a responsible consumer, and I know almost all of my groceries come from. My hubby and I eat mostly chicken and fish as the "meat" with our meals, and we have beef once in a while. I believe that humans are meant to eat meat because of our teeth. I respect my many vegetarian friends though!

  • chandra h September 18, 2009, 1:47 pm

    Caitlin! love this post. I think the most important thing to remember/keep in mind is – is it honestly WORTH IT to judge others/cause a ruckus over someone not having the same diet as you? yes, maybe you do believe that your diet is 100% the best for the environment and animal rights, and maybe it is – but is it worth it to condemn others for not being as "perfect"? No one is perfect. people are at different places & have different bodies – be the change you want to see in the world, but be accepting of other lifestyle choices.

    with that said, I am a vegetarian šŸ™‚

    oh btw I know I said "you" a lot in this post, I wasn't talking about YOU you. lol. more like a universal you. yeah. ok. have a nice afternoon šŸ™‚

  • kilax September 18, 2009, 2:19 pm

    I agree with you. People should not feel guilty for what they eat. If they get conflicting feelings, they should think about it, but no one should judge someone else.

    I am a vegan now (went vegan over 3 months ago, been a vegetarian for over 8 years). I still think meat smells good (sometimes). I never crave it, and I don't care when people eat it, as long as they aren't shoving it in my face!

  • Red Head, Yellow Dog September 18, 2009, 4:10 pm

    I'm a pescatarian. I usually tell people I'm a vegetarian if I'm just telling them briefly in passing. it's easier then explaining. anywho i don't think craving meat is anything to feel bad about. I crave burgers occassionally and I haven't had one in over 10 years! but i used to LOVE cheeseburgers. I know if I ever actually had one I wouldn't like it but for some reason the idea of it still sounds good.

  • Erin September 18, 2009, 5:03 pm

    I certainly see why people like labels. They make it easier to stick to things, and a whole lot easier to explain your eating habits to someone!
    That being said, labels do NOT work for me. I was a vegetarian for a few years, and then I started eating meat, and now I just eat in my own strange way.
    I think labels are too strict. Our bodies needs grow and change all the time. I just like to go with the flow.

  • ishkabibble September 18, 2009, 5:12 pm

    It's so funny you posted this today! I've been a pescetarian for a couple years (proudly telling everyone of my pescetarian status) but decided yesterday that my eating of fish was hypocritical to my beliefs of eating animals. So, this is day 2 of what I'm planning as a 30 day trial of vegetarianism.
    I'll keep you posted šŸ™‚

  • husker runner September 18, 2009, 5:18 pm

    I've been a vegetarian for 2 1/2 years and while I had strong meat cravings at first (chicken tenders looked amazing) they don't really happen anymore. I feel that people should eat what they want to and found it odd that friends felt bad eating meat in front of me.

  • Anonymous September 18, 2009, 5:20 pm

    I'm 29 and haven't eaten meat since I was 12 years old. Sure, I slipped up the first year or two as I was young and there wasn't much in the way of vegetarian food in Pennsylvania Dutch Country then. But I can honestly say that I do not ever crave meat and can't remember the last time I did. It's been years and years, I know that. It's not hard and it's not something I even think about unless someone says something to me. It's just natural to me.

    I do believe that people should eat what they want, but should at least know where their food comes from.

  • Crystal September 18, 2009, 5:29 pm

    I'm anti-label … I eat what I like and don't really care what others eat. I am a foodie but my thought process doesn't go past "That looks good".

  • Morgan (lifeafterbagels) September 18, 2009, 8:22 pm

    Caitlin- you've got quite the discussion on your hands. I am vegetarian, no meat, no fish, but eggs and dairy. What is so funny is that MOST people are shocked with I say I don't eat fish, it's like the vegetarian label is kind of murky. And even more people have never heard of a vegan. Before I was a vegetarian I thought there were lots and lots of people who were and even vegans. But I have a very hard time finding proper food sometimes. I'm away for work next week and am praying they will serve something nutritious and filling for my meals.

  • Julia September 18, 2009, 10:05 pm

    Thank you so much for such an honest post!
    I love that you featured flexitarian as an option.
    I currently label myself as a flexitarian. This allows me to eat some of favorite foods (like pad thai with chicken or sea food) and just fits with my current schedule and lifestyle. I am a law student with very limited time and money, and flexitarian works better for me right now than being strictly vegetarian which I think would end up leaving me feeling like a failure at times.

  • BroccoliHut September 18, 2009, 10:38 pm

    I refer to myself as a lacto-vegetarian (i.e., I don't eat meat, fish, or eggs). I don't mind the label because it precisely defines my diet…but doesn't define my identity.

  • Olivia September 18, 2009, 11:16 pm

    I've never labeled myself as anything, though I follow a mostly vegetarian diet. I eat meat once every few weeks. I don't drink milk, but eat a copious amount of cheese. For me it is simply a matter of preference and upbringing. I grew up on a veggie-based diet. To put it in perspective – my parents are 53 and still haven't eaten steak (I tried it for the first time at 21, during a corporate dinner event).

    Personally, I don't like labels because I find them restrictive. I also find some people have this certain elitism about the whole thing – like a holier than thou attitude about what they don't eat vs. what you do eat.

  • Andrea (Off Her Cork) September 19, 2009, 8:02 am

    No labels, they are just too confining for me. I have preferences on what I like to eat and what I don't. Sometimes I feel like something and sometimes I don't. If I feel like it, I want to have the option to eat it. I have guidelines I follow that are based on personal preferences and beliefs but nothing that would confine me to a label.

  • ferfer85 September 19, 2009, 12:10 pm

    I live with a hunter and we eat a lot of meat. The best kinds that are lean and chock full of iron and protein. We also catch salmon in the ocean. We also buy beef and pork from the store. So, I am typical American. It is easier to have a complete diet and avoid anemia, etc. by eating meat.

  • Paige@ Running Around Normal September 19, 2009, 1:00 pm

    Ooh, great post! I probably consider myself flexitarian. I eat meat, but try to limit my intake of it. At most, I have it once a day, but I like to have a few vegetarian days throughout the week. I've gone completely vegetarian before, and my body didn't like it so much. However, I could probably try again. Since I've joined the blog world, I've become much more educated on the lifestyle.

  • Angie Eats Peace September 19, 2009, 3:53 pm

    Love that you mention the pescetarian thing. It is such a pet peeve of mine when people say they are vegetarians, but eat fish.
    I label myself as vegan.

  • Lauren September 20, 2009, 4:32 am

    Thanks for this insightful post, Caitlin. I am not a vegetarian (definitely flexitarian, though I never eat red meat or pork), but I was a strict vegetarian for about five years. One day, I "fell off the wagon," so to speak, and ate chicken. I realized that I had really missed chicken and some fish, and gradually started incorporating it back into my diet. Nowadays, about 85 to 90% of my weekly meals are vegetarian, but I do have poultry or fish occasionally.

    I was very conflicted about becoming a flexitarian after abiding by a vegetarian diet for years. I love animals and abhor the treatment of animals bred for meat, so I have some trouble reconciling these feelings with the fact that I sometimes eat chicken and fish. I try to be smart about where I buy poultry and fish…but at the same time, you never know for certain whether the treatment of the animals is 'humane.' It is a difficult situation for me.

    All of this being said, I feel that eating habits are a highly personal choice. I don't think it is fair that non vegetarians are sometimes made to feel as though they are in the wrong, in the blog world and elsewhere. You have to do what is right for you. Right now, for me, what is right is flexitarianism.

    Thanks for starting this important dialogue!

  • Jogger September 20, 2009, 11:03 am

    I'm not into labels, but I primarily follow a vegetarian diet. If I felt like it, I'd eat meat. I just don't really like it.

  • Tara September 20, 2009, 11:17 am

    For 15 years I have gone from a vegetarian to a vegan to a pescetarian to currently a flexitarian. I work in nutrition and many of my clients who read Skinny Bitch were disturbed into becoming temporary vegans (I say temporary because as soon as the awful images described in the book faded away so did their desire to abstain from eating meat)and then these same clients struggle with their desire to eat meat. I originally stopped eating meat because of the inhumane treatment of the animals. What I tell my clients who struggle as I do is, if you are going to eat meat, make sure you know the source of the meat i.e. from a free-range, organic producer. People are never going to stop eating meat but I think ultimately if those that are like me, if we are going to eat it on occasion by increasing the demand for meat that is humanely grown we will essentially be making a bigger statement by increasing the success of those that raise their animals humanely. I live in the SF Bay Area and I am fortunate to have access to many free-range, organic options. After years of traveling, cooking, working in restaurants, I no longer want to limit myself to vegetarian options. So maybe it's just something to make me feel not so guilty but hopefully this theory will help others with the same moral struggles. Sorry so long…

    Tara

  • Kristen September 21, 2009, 11:02 am

    aitlin – great post, and one of the most well-written discussions on the vegetarian label I've read.

    I struggle with the label, because although I eat a 70% vegan diet, my motivation is so across the board (environment, ethics, health) that what it comes down to is, I just eat what I want, when i want – and a lot of the time it does not involve animal products. That said, I don't want to have to defend myself when I choose to indulge in, say, brie cheese on a trip to France!

  • Rachel September 22, 2009, 5:49 am

    I think having the (clearly-defined) labels available is important so that other people can understand – when I say I'm a vegetarian, it's so that people know I don't eat meat, seafood, poultry, but that I will eat eggs and dairy. If someone calls themselves a vegetarian but still eats fish, it makes it really hard for the rest of us, who get fed fish meals with the comment "oh, but I had a co-worker who was vegetarian and she loved fish"!

    For environmental and ethical reasons, I would love it if everyone were vegetarian, but I don't try to convince people to stop eating meat, or attempt to make them feel bad for doing so. You have to come at it your own way, and for your own reasons. I stopped eating meat originally because I really didn't like the taste of it, so I can't imagine going back after 15 years.

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