Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Blogging from A to Z: V is for Vegetarian

During April, I'm participating in the Blogging from A to Z challenge -- one alphabet-themed post per day, starting with A is for Aruba Aftermath and ending with Z is for ... I don't know yet what Z is for, I'll figure it out when I get there.

"Portrait" of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, painted by artist Giuseppe Arcimboldo, in 1590 (image from here)
Dan and I were both vegetarian when we met almost 32 years ago.  We had both grown up in meat-and-potatoes families -- his dad was a Kansas wheat farmer/stockman and they raised their own -- but shortly after college, we both chose a different diet path.  Dan said that the quality of meat for sale in the stores was so disappointing compared to what he was used to that he simply gave up, and then realized he was doing just fine living on humbler food (and beer!). Growing up in a big city, I didn't have the quality angle (I had nothing to compare store-bought meat with), so my motivations were purely spiritual: if I didn't have to kill my fellow creatures to live well, why would I? Our shared dietary preferences as we fumbled along to define our relationship with food led to some funny stories about our early dating. Ironically, he (a vegetarian) prepared a meal of duck steamed over beer for me (another vegetarian) the night he proposed, because neither of us could figure out how to make a celebratory meal without a meat centerpiece.  And before you get snarky, remember that this was in the early 1980s in the red-blooded midwest, okay?

What does this have to do with living on a boat?  Well, nothing directly, but I think it does remove one complexity from our lives onboard.  We vacuum-seal our dried beans and rice, etc, and are ready to go. No refrigeration required, and no worries about expiration dates.  On the other side, I have noticed a disproportionate amount of space on boating foodie sites and blogs spent discussing the best ways of obtaining and storing meats. Or maybe it just seems disproportionate to me, since it's irrelevant to me. To be fair, though, the meat-eaters would probably say we're probably more worried than most about where we're going to find and keep our fresh greens and veggies. We still do have a fridge, though, for eggs and dairy and veggies.  (And beer. Of course, beer. Some things never change.)  We get menu inspirations from poorer cultures worldwide, that could never afford to make meat the centerpiece.

As we travel, though, I begin to wonder if we're missing out, just a teeny bit.  Not so much on the tastes themselves; soy-based meat substitutes have gotten much better over the years.  Many thanks to friend Phil, who encouraged us to try several. We've been able to use these to re-create approximations of some popular dishes at home.  It's the social aspect of sharing food that I think we may be slighting ourselves on.  Not that we've ever met anyone, anywhere, who has not been respectful of our preference, as well as accommodating up to the level of their ability. Still, we stand slightly apart at many parties, and certainly at barbeques.  Tremendously first-world problem, in both the literal and figurative sense, and not one I'm looking to fix. Just an observation, something to ... ruminate on.


  1. I was a vegetarian for 5 years back in the 80s, mostly to annoy my mother. It was so much harder back then when I went out to eat to be able to find restaurants that catered to vegies. Seems so much easier now. I've since gone back to my meat-eating way, but still enjoy meatless meals.

  2. You are so right! Not sure where in the country you were then, but we certainly had our challenges finding food that wasn't meat-based. And we didn't quite understand, then, how to make sure we got enough protein.