The once-a-year cheat

For Meatless Monday, learn about one man’s decision to go vegetarian. This is the third installment of a three-part series. Read the first installment here and second installment here.

By Mark Donahue
I used to permit myself a cheat meat meal once a year, but I gave that up in 2010 after tasting my father-in-law's BBQ ribs, which I used to love. That evening they nearly made me wretch right there on the pool deck.

My in-laws still can't believe I did it, though they've accepted it a little more as the years have passed. They like to imply that I'm whipped or something. I can only ask the straight men among them if they could've resisted a chick in leg warmers feeding them delicious food. And since then, my wife Erika has gone from a pretty good vegan cook to one who puts pro-quality offerings on the table every single meal. It's even become one of our little dreams to start our own restaurant in this lacking local market.

We've been joined in all this by our two children, Ella and Archer, three and two, respectively. We finally have more mouths to help finish the leftovers, which there always were so much of when it was just two of us. The vegetarian diet my kids eat (they get some dairy and eggs) has so blown away any preconceived notions I had about a non-meat childhood it isn't even funny. Both are smart, healthy, extremely energetic and big, particularly Arch, who has exceeded all percentiles for growth. He's the new Mountain Man.

All I can say is that I royally lucked out in becoming a vegetarian by meeting my wife. It was all given to me. But I hope this doesn't dissuade anyone considering giving up meat from another angle, for health or ethics first, as a single person, divorced, etc. It took time, but I did come to understand the real reasons one should do it, and I've embraced my diet as part of my identity. I've even considered going all the way to vegan.

I highly recommend it from a health standpoint, an environmental-impact standpoint and a kindness-to-animals standpoint. For me, it's become about being a good person to all living things and the earth itself. I don't claim to be a great environmental evangelist, but it just seems right. I hope you would consider it too.  

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