why would a vegetarian eat fish, chicken, or dare I say, pork?


I’ve now been a vegetarian for over half my life, and over those many years I’ve read, thought, and discussed a lot about food, health and healing, cooking and eating well. During those years I was diagnosed as having a low-thyroid condition; I tried to address that through natural means of diet modification, and while that was supportive, I finally relented and accepted my allopathic doctor’s prescription for Synthroid. Concurrently I accepted my Acupuncturist’s advice to eat organic kelp, scallops, salmon, and white fish, trying for once or twice weekly, and to take Selenium supplements daily to support my thyroid. Thus I overcame my aversion to eating flesh by selecting fish whenever I was eating out on business meals; I can honestly say that for about 15 years I’ve enjoyed eating salmon.

Meanwhile I’ve forever been interested in other cultures, people and places, and now I’m at a stage in my life where I have more discretionary time and money, so I’m able to travel some. For over two years I’ve also enjoyed a loving partnership with a man who wants to travel with me, a man who enjoys tasty healthy food, and good spirits– by that I mean both good and happy people, also good wine, beer and liquor. When we traveled together to Ireland and Scotland a year ago, knowing we’d be staying as house guests part of that time, I decided it would be wise to add chicken breast to my diet too, to help me have more options when eating with others abroad. I’d enjoyed salmon and chicken in my mother’s home, and I recalled the flavors happily. My mind was willing, my gut easily survived. Culinary bonus points scored with discovery of draft Guinness beer!

I’ve been thinking about these things as I prepared to go on a wonderful vacation– we’ve just returned from Paris, Florence, and rural Tuscany. Ah, you say, French food! Oui! Oui! How fun that KLM/Delta aired the movie “Julie and Julia” (a comedy by Nora Ephron staring Meryl Streep as Julia Childs) on our flight to Paris! That was perfect, as my partner is a huge movie fan, and I, of course, love to cook.

Indeed we enjoyed the food in Paris– especially wonderful savory crepes, and quiche. Ah but yes, Quiche Lorraine has bacon in it. Oh, the restaurant menus– artichokes were in season, abundant, beautiful, and so delicious! Ah, pea soup! And oh, my, not just beef ragout in those lovely red individual serving sized enameled cast iron casseroles, but duck and rabbit as speciality menu items… The local markets were stellar, well stocked with beautiful produce. The artichokes, haricot verts, and so many types of beautiful greens! The bread, the cheese, oui, oui! And of course, the wonderful wines.

The food scene in Italy felt entirely different. There too the wonderful cheeses, wine, bread, and the olives! Best of all gelato! And my partner introduced me to Sambuca. Yum! I found the restaurant menus there were much more accessible to me as a vegetarian, even though I almost never eat pasta (having long ago given up gluten noodles.) I had lovely choices of fish, all beautifully prepared in delicious butter. The question for me on this trip though was pork. Did I want to eat pig meat after more than thirty years?? Thinly sliced prosciutto, on bruschetta with marinated artichoke hearts, thinly sliced pecorino romano, and a drizzle of olive oil, so perfectly Italian. I decided yes, when in Florence do as the Florentines do, and I was delighted.

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Antipasti of thick sliced cold salsiccia, with a cold Bierra? Hmmm, that Salsiccia just looked to be a bit much for me to stomach; the bierra was delicious. For breakfast in before a full day out adventuring in rural Tuscany, my partner made his awesome over-hard eggs that I have come to enjoy (I was vegan for many years), with fried tomato and yes, a little salsiccia sausage link cooked perfectly. Yum! And no gastric distress. Moderation is the key.

Now home again, I went to our County Master Gardener’s “Incredible Edibles” organic vegetable and herb start sale event last weekend, and I’m making progress turning and weeding my raised beds after a horrendously wet Spring. I’m thinking about eating with the changing seasons, and as the name of my blog reminds me, as a Conscious Vegetarian. Thinking about that now, I acknowledge that means for me also cooking salmon or chicken breast on occasion.

Last night I was really hungry, and knew I needed a generous serving of protein. I enjoyed braising 3 oz of salmon with garlic, dill, and lemon, then making a lovely salmon salad with mixed greens, radicchio, topped with black olives, sheep feta, walnuts, thin slices of red onion, and orange slices, dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yes, it was a perfect meal for me, a conscious vegetarian.

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6 thoughts on “why would a vegetarian eat fish, chicken, or dare I say, pork?

  1. A wonderful testimony! As you say, “Moderation is the key”, unless of course you have severe intolerance issues (my husband’s case and mine too). I am glad you got to enjoy the food in my country and in Italy!
    Let me not keep you away from your garden any longer: weeding is a part I can totally relate to!

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    • Thanks, Joelle!

      Yes I espouse all of the values and reasons why someone would adopt a vegetarian/vegan diet. I also view dietary modification as the first– and most vital as well as practical– line of defense against disease and common debilitating conditions including low thyroid and arthritis, Type 2 Diabetes, and GERD, and so much more.

      My experience in my professional career included evaluation of data– and that includes keeping in mind the threshold of materiality.

      On a personal level, my health condition allows me a broad approach to my diet. For example, those with a low thyroid condition are well advised to avoid “goitrogenic” vegetables– those are the cruciferic veggies cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and kohlrabi, turnips, rutabaga, and radishes. The goitrogenic effect is minimized if the veggies have been cooked. So mostly I adhere to that. But oh, yes, I do still enjoy an occasional rubbed kale salad, or bright radishes on a spinach salad. If I enjoy those, I’m likely to also enjoy something with great digestive and anti-inflammatory properties such as turmeric or pineapple for its Bromelain enzyme.

      The important take-away is to know yourself, and care for yourself with what you need, consciously making good choices for your own well being. Beyond that, I want to be mindful of others, including those we “break bread with”, and beyond that, the welfare of all living beings. I believe there is some level of connectivity happening on all levels whether we see it or not.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Funnily, I have a similar approach, especially for my husband’s sensitivity to sulfites. On the rare occasions that he eats something he should avoid, I make some turmeric and ginger tea in the hope that it will help his system combat the inflammation. I don’t know if it really works, it seems to, but at least I am sure there are no side effects associated.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Rebecca!

      I see now on your blog that you too think about these things. That’s great! I hope more and more folks can feel better and become healthier though eating well, and that includes eating within their budget food that is right for their bodies.

      Liked by 1 person

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