“Why should eating be different from any of the other ethical realms of our lives? We were honest people who occasionally told lies, careful friends who sometimes acted clumsily. We were vegetarians who from time to time ate meat.”
- Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals
Yang and I are attempting a little experiment. We are trying to be vegetarians, who from time to time eat meat. 
Why do this? Because we just read Eating Animals by JSF, and, despite all efforts to remain “neutral,” we were convinced. The trouble is, we love meat. So short of eschewing it entirely, we’ve decided upon a set of finely tuned (not really), intellectually watertight (not really), agonized over (yes actually) rules for being vegetarians who eat meat.
Without further ado, I give you…
The Yang and Tina “Vegetarian” Project
Rule #1: Every week, we will be allowed to make one choice towards meat. Everything else should be vegetarian.
Examples of what counts as our one choice: one dish to be consumed over several meals, one meal of multiple meat dishes, etc. But each week we only get to do this once.
1a. If we are eating out or ordering in, we can eat any kind of meat (conventional/organic/etc), but with a preference for ethically raised meat.
In an ideal world, we would only ever eat meat that was raised humanely. In reality, it’s prohibitively difficult to tell where restaurant meat is coming from—feedlot or family farm? Precious few dining establishments serve only ethical meat on principle, even in a city like New York. And for the rest, you can pretty much assume it’s all conventional meat. So rather than lose sleep over this, we decided to put our efforts elsewhere.
1b. However, if we are cooking it, the meat must come from an ethical source.
Here’s where we can actually control sourcing, so why not? Yes, this means we’re going to start paying $12.99/lb for pasture-raised, grass-fed ground beef. Yes, it’s total madness, and no, we are not loaded (I’m in grad school… oh let me tell you about the loans…) We are just attempting to reframe meat as a luxury item, an accessory to a special meal rather than the centerpiece of every one. Isn’t that what meat always was, before industrialization ‘optimized’ our meat production system for unrealistically low prices?
Rule #2: Eggs and dairy should come from humane sources too
This is much easier than getting meat. The Greenmarket has free range, organic eggs (actual free-range) for $4/dozen. Amazing fresh milk for $5/quart. Done deal.
Rule #3: If family or friends are cooking for us, we will eat whatever it is, no questions asked. This rule trumps everything else.
I believe there are 2 kinds of suffering related to eating meat: that of livestock in terrible living conditions, diseased and drugged, bludgeoned and beaten and worse; and that which would show on my mother’s face as disappointment if I were to refuse something she lovingly cooked for me. Those are not equivalent quantities of suffering by any means, but you can probably guess which means more to me. Yang agrees.
And that’s basically it. We’ll be eating a whole lotta legumes, leafy greens, and grains! And I’m gonna have to learn some new dishes. Should be fun!
I wonder, if anyone reading who is reading this has ever attempted vegetarianism before, or tried modifying their meat-eating practices? If so, I’m curious to know how it went. I would love to swap notes on thought process, implementation, and all those goodies.
Wish us luck! I, for one, will need it.
 We realize that a more appropriate term for what we’re aiming to be is “flexitarian.” But, as far as my omnivorous appetite is concerned, we’ve already embarked on the unthinkable: deliberately choosing to avoid meat at all. So if I listen carefully at what my lizard brain is saying, I’m pretty sure it’s wrathfully accusing me of being a… vegetarian.