Thoughts on Pescetarianism

I recently read this article (linked from Gala Darling). Titled “How To Avoid Being a Judgmental Vegan”, the article points out a lot of things I’d agree with. However, my own pescetarian experiences with land-meat-eaters has been rather different.

All the negative comments I have ever received concerning my eating habits run along the lines of, “how come you still eat <insert sea food here>, don’t they have feelings too?” Once while I was boiling the kettle to make myself some packet mi goreng noodles, my Indonesian-reading friend examined the packet then told me, “you’re not a real vegetarian – this has chicken extract in it. Are you still going to eat that?” I did eat it.

Of course things are different for me because I opted for the pescetarian route rather than going full vegetarian or vegan. But the fact of the matter is that the way I choose to eat should not be open for criticism. Not eating land meat is a small way I can contribute to global warming issues. I know that I can do more. I could stop eating seafood, meat products, stop driving a car, stop buying aerosol spray cans, stop using so much air conditioning in summer and heating in winter. I have made a choice and the impact of that choice is probably quite small. But it is MY choice. I do not intend, and never have, been judgmental of non-pescetarians. I am happy to discuss my choices amiably with anyone who is curious or interested.

It’s funny how once you “come out” as a pescetarian, vegetarian, vegan or whatever, a line is immediately drawn and you can’t eat meat forever more because you’ve created a RULE that can’t be broken. But I ask you, what’s the difference between a vegetarian who eats no meat because of environmental reasons, and a person who prefers a meat free diet for the same reasons, but has meat very occasionally. The first is a vegetarian, but the second isn’t, but they’re really achieving very similar things.

I think myself lucky that most of my friends are open-minded and non-judgmental. I wouldn’t have made the switch to pescetarianism if not for the influence of my friends. None of my close friends have been negative about my eating choices.

Chickpea Curry

This is my new favourite recipe. It’s super easy and tasty. I know you’re probably supposed to have rice with this sort of thing, but I prefer couscous. It’s faster to prepare than rice, and (in my opinion) tastier. But I have been brought up on rice-based meals, so maybe it is just boring to me!

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
tablespoon oil
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 can diced tomato

Slice onions finely; crush the garlic. Heat oil in a pan. Add onion and garlic and cook over medium heat, stirring until soft.
Add the chilli powder, salt, turmeric, paprika and cumin. Stir over heat for 1 minute.
Add chickpeas and tomatoes, stir until combined. Simmer, covered, over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garam masala and coriander. Simmer, covered, for another 5-10 minutes.

Vegetarian Food in Adelaide

Image by Dan Eriksson

Here are my pick of Adelaide’s vegetarian meal options that I’ve discovered so far:

  • Vego ‘n’ Love’n It. When a friend first showed me this place in Rundle Street, I was surprised at how many times I must have walked past it and not known it was there. It’s located up a narrow staircase and gets packed out at lunch times. Very delicious burgers and good value for money.
  • Sumo Salad. I used to work here and the freshness/quality is great. Quite a few meat salads but the vegetarian options are quite tasty.
  • Bangkok Bites (Chinatown, in the “old” food court). Lots of vegetarian noodle and rice options at about $7 a pop.
  • Barbecue City. It’s mainly a meat restaurant but the Vegetable Dumplings are really good, you can have them pan-friend or steamed, both are yummy. They have a fair few other vegetarian options, but I haven’t been able to get past the dumplings.
  • Pure Vegetarian (Chinatown, in the “new” food court). You can have a choice of several dishes with rice or noodles. I LOVE that brown rice is an option.
  • Burp Burritos. Vegetarian burritos are cheap but delicious.
  • Ky Chow. Ying Chow has a bit of a cult following these days but I maintain that Ky Chow is the best place on Gouger Street! (I eat there WAAAAY too often.) I admit that pure vegetarians might have difficulty choosing suitable dishes, but what they do, they do well (except perhaps for the Malaysian Vegetable Hot Pot, I found it a bit boring). My dishes of choice are Shallot Pancakes, Vegetable Rolls, Hot and Sour Vegetable Hot Pot and Salty Fish Eggplant Hot Pot. The last has fish in it, so it’s for pescetarians only!

Pescetarianism is going well and I do not miss eating meat at all EXCEPT perhaps for duck. I love me a good old Peking duck. The transition has been interesting, especially the aspects of dining that involve significant others, but I am really enjoying discovering all this yummy food.

If anyone knows of good vego joints in Adelaide, your recommendations are so very welcome.

The Road to Pescetarianism…

… is not a rocky one, I’m finding. It’s actually been quite easy. I think the fact that I had already cut pork from my diet for quite a while has something to do with it. When I quit eating pork, I soon found that even erasing that one meat from my diet meant I had to do more thinking about what was in my food. That was a bigger change than I had expected because it meant I had to change my thought processes every time I ate… if that makes sense. So enlarging the list of what I won’t eat to include all land meats wasn’t that big a change. 

Also, even before my decision I didn’t regard meat as a staple part of my diet anyway. I don’t believe humans need that much meat. Imagine if meat was served as a side dish rather than vegetables! It seems a little strange to me now that main courses in any food culture have meat at the centre of the dish, in the starring role. 

The hardest part about pescetarianism has to do with situations where I’m eating socially. It’s hard not to feel excluded when you go out to a dinner with friends and you are the only one not partaking in a shared meal. My folks have been pretty good about it but I have still felt a pang of guilt now and then when I realise they are pandering to me. I appreciate it lots, but I am perfectly okay with feeding myself; I don’t want to inconvenience anybody. 

At first I was worried that my family would be offended. My parents show that they care by offering food, they also do it to friends when they come over because it’s a way of being polite and welcoming. So I was worried that I might offend them. I think that having been moved out has really helped them perceive my “independence”, so they don’t really take it the wrong way. 

What is interesting is having to draw a line. I still eat fish but I’ve drawn a line at land animals. But if I’d cave for anything, it would probably be Peking duck, even though I’ve had a pet duck, the idea of eating duck doesn’t upset me nearly as much as some other things. But you have to draw a line somewhere.

Junk Food

Image by belinder77

 

Image by belinder77

New almost-vegetarian diet notwithstanding, I ate SO BADLY today and now I feel like crap. Here’s a list, lest I forget today’s mistakes.

  • A whole block of Lindt dark chocolate with almonds.
  • Four Mr Kipling’s Cherry Bakewells. (The packaging does not lie, they truly are “exceedingly good”.)
  • A chocolate doughnut.
  • Two cookies.

Hm, now that it’s all down on paper, so to speak, it doesn’t look so bad. The worst bit was the chocolate and cherry bakewells. I shall console myself with the knowledge that it could have been much, much worse. And after this I’m going to make an egg soda. If you want an egg soda too, you can learn how to make one here, but be warned that it is probably not the healthiest drink you could have. Plain soda would be better for you.

On the topic of food, Mum asked if I’d be available for a Mother’s Day barbecue. My response was, “…barbecue? Will you make your potato salad?” followed by what I judged to be a timely statement of my new pescetarian intentions. She took it better than I expected, although I think I may have misled her because she said, “oh, you’re just trying it for a bit, right?” and I said “….yeeeeeaaah”. Note that she didn’t actually say that, because her half of the conversation was in Cantonese, I have translated it to English.

By the way, I just found out it’s definitely “barbecue” not “barbeque” because, according to Dictionary:

barbequenoun & verb, a common misspelling of barbecue. USAGE This common form arises understandably from a confused conflation of the proper spelling barbecue, the abbreviation Bar-B-Q, and phonetic spelling. Its frequency does not quite justify it: in no other English word does que attain the status of a stand-alone, terminal syllable.

So there you go.

Pescetarianism

I’m converting to a pescetarian diet. That is, a vegetarian diet that includes fish and seafood. I’ll still have meat products like dairy and eggs. 

I’m not expecting it to be too difficult to start with. I haven’t eaten any meat for a few weeks anyway and before that I had been gradually cutting back. The funny thing is, the longer I go without it, the less I want it. And I don’t have much dairy usually, I prefer soy milk.

I feel like I’m in a transitional stage and I don’t really feel like going into all the reasons why I’m deciding to make this change. Actually I feel kind of… mildly stressed and anxious, especially about explaining my decision to people. 

Oh well, the only thing I can do is try.