Breaking Vegetarian

When I decided, five years ago, that I was no longer satisfied with my vegetarian diet, or its impact on the food system, I turned to the Internet to help me navigate that decision. I had a lot of questions. I wanted to know what would happen to my body, and how to prepare my digestive tract for the shock of meat after seven years without. I wanted to know how to cook meat, and how to balance a meal with plenty of vegetables. I needed to address some food safety concerns about handling and preparation, and I needed some recipes.

Beyond that, I had questions about how to eat meat in an ethical way. I made the decision to include meat in my diet because I wanted to support a sustainable, small-scale, local food system, and I wanted to be true to that. But I didn’t know where to shop, or what labels to look for or avoid or what resources for finding local food were available.

And, to be honest, I had a hard time finding what I wanted. Though in the five years since that decision, I have met many many people who had given up vegan or vegetarian diets, it seems that it wasn’t something a lot of people wanted to admit to. The Internet was weirdly silent, except for a few think pieces about reasons, and a few message boards. Partly, I began writing my book as a response to that silence.

And, as of this week, I now write a monthly column for the new food section of Paste online addressing some of these questions and concerns. It’s called Breaking Vegetarian, and the first installment addresses the practical concern about your body’s adjustment. I hope to cover much more ground in the future, but I’m so grateful for the chance to contribute to an important conversation, and to do so in a public forum, where people can offer each other advice and support.

I hope you’ll check out Breaking Vegetarian, whether you’re an ex-vegan or thinking about it, or just looking for advice on sustainable eating issues. Feel free to share and to get in touch with questions, concerns, or ideas for future columns.

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