Vegetarians are Made, Not Born
Vegetarians are made, not born. Evolution has equipped the human animal to eat practically anything. Each culture defines which foods are socially acceptable. In America, that has always meant meat. Putting it on the table is the sign of a good provider; cooking it well and enjoying it together are time-honored family traditions.
Nevertheless, more Americans than ever are voluntarily giving up some or all meat to satisfy ethical convictions about the welfare of the planet and its creatures, or for personal health. The same concerns motivate many cooks to buy eggs that come from free-range chickens or spend a little extra on more healthful—and less polluting—organic fruit, vegetables, flour and dairy products.
Whether gradual, occasional, or a total commitment, more people eating lower on the food chain still adds up to good news.
It’s also the way many families, mine included, slowly became vegetarians. First, we wanted “no veal this meal,” nothing cute, no endangered species and no food that came from an animal smarter than the family dog.
Over time, we abandoned meat, then fish. Of course, other people draw very different dietary lines in the sand, which is only right. If food becomes us, literally, what could be more personal or serious than what we do, or do not, choose to eat? But I'm more interested in the practical aspects of living normally in our society without meat, and in making that option more attractive to more people, which is not so easy if what's for dinner is always tofu.
Like everyone else, vegetarians require mealtime diversity, robust flavors, heartiness and interesting textures. If we lose the joy of good food, which goes so well with good wine and good company, we risk becoming bores or martyrs—or future meat-eaters.
Giving up more than you have to is not fun, and it's also not a promising long-term strategy.
— Lee Zucker ’63