Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The good enough vegetarian

In the scholarly work on child-rearing, some experts refer to what they call good enough parents. These are parents who might not always achieve perfection in parenting but who still get the job done, raising successful, independent children. The idea here is to relieve the pressure on moms and dads who feel that their efforts are never sufficient and to assure them that they'll still raise great kids even if they sometimes fall short of their own standards.

I think the same can be said about eating on the vegetarian spectrum. Some of us -- me included -- can't always achieve that state of grace whereby no meat, dairy, fish, or honey passes our lips and no leather, silk, or wool adorns our bodies. We can't all be perfect all of the time and that's no crime.

Max Fisher explores this idea in a recent essay published in The Atlantic magazine. What I took away from it is that no matter where you are in your vegetarian journey, you're fighting the good fight and making a difference, both to yourself and to the world.

Vegetarianism, as I see it, is a continuum, not an all-or-nothing proposition. As much as we herbivores might wish for it, the world is never going to completely stop eating meat. But small changes can reap huge rewards. In his book, Diet for a New America, John Robbins reveals that 2,500 gallons of water are needed to produce one pound of beef. Have one fewer meat-centered family meal each week and save a swimming pool's worth of water!

The benefits to personal health of eating more vegetables and less meat are abundantly documented -- and every little bit helps. It's not an all-or-nothing proposition. So you had a burger at lunch; have vegetable soup for dinner. Can't live without dairy-based yogurt? Then buy soy milk instead of cow's milk. It's all about incremental change and you can do it.

Ms. Veggie's Review is here to help and encourage you, one baby step at a time. Stay tuned for reviews of eggplant cutlets, naked chik'n, and an exotic cool soup.

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