This is a post by Jenny.
I became a vegetarian in December of 2000, shortly after watching “Meet Your Meat” in high school health class. Shortly thereafter I converted into a pescetarian – a vegetarian who eats fish – but always stuck with the term vegetarian since it’s easier to understand. David became a “flexible vegetarian” in 2005. My reasons for being a vegetarian for the next 12 years included that meat is kind of gross (picture raw, bloody meat), it is often filled with unnatural hormones, the treatment of the animals questionable, and is generally bad for the environment.
However, whenever we travel, we commit to following the local diet because we don’t want to miss out on local cuisine because we won’t eat meat. This winter when we set out for 2 months in Asia, we knew that would be an easy place to maintain our vegetarianism, but still decided we would eat meat/whatever was popular locally. We ate a lot of fish and a good amount of chicken.. During our time in Portugal, Italy, and Spain, it has been a lot harder to skip out on the pork and beef – think chorizo, proscuitto, jamon iberico…Europe seems to be a continent of meat lovers (though perhaps the Italians less so than the Portuguese or Spanish).
Usually I get annoyed when people ask about my vegetarian status – always feeling like they are asking me to defend myself or convert them – so I’m not sure why I’m writing a blog entry for the world to read. I think the point is that for us, it’s important to try not to miss out on anything delicious while we travel – because in case you missed the message, food and eating are the top reasons to travel (and hike)!
Will we become full time meat eaters when we get back to the states? I can’t say for certain, but I doubt it. I’m guessing I’ll never go back to regularly eating beef or pork, but might occasionally have chicken or turkey. All meat will probably have an acceptable place on my plate if it falls into the “ethnic” category – super delicious and made up in some special way that is exotic and rare for me to have. I still regret to this day not eating my Portuguese grandmother’s fish, chorizo, sopa, and various other homecooked meals in the last years of her life due to my insistence on being vegetarian.
What about you – do you change the way you eat while you travel?