The Slow Food Experiment

The Slow Food Challenge

As you might remember, I’m currently in the middle of doing a year of slow living experiments. I say you might remember because you wouldn’t have known it in June. One of the commitments I made to myself before starting these experiments is that I wouldn’t write them on a list and do them in order. Instead, I promised myself I would slow down whichever area of my life felt like it needed it most. I experimented with slow mornings, slow money, slow moving, slow breathing, and slow technology because that’s what I needed. And after losing the dogs in May, I needed to do nothing in June. So, that’s what I did.

Well, I didn’t exactly do nothing. I had a quiet week in Victoria with my dad, and another quiet week in Squamish with friends. Then I packed two pieces of carry-on luggage and flew to Minneapolis, where I had another quiet week with friends. From Minneapolis, I hopped in a friends’ car and drove all the way back to Squamish. We spent two nights on a homestead in the Black Hills National Forest, two nights on a ranch outside of Jackson (with Sarah!) and three nights in Boise. It was slow and quiet. Some of the driving days were fast, but we filled them with podcasts and stories and conversation. I didn’t do a slow living experiment. I was living slowly.

I’m grateful I was able to take so much time off in June and that I could spend it with people who love and support me. It was an incredible gift. The only thing that didn’t feel great, by the end of it, was my body. Driving through the Midwest and parts of the West can leave you with few options for food. By the time we entered Wyoming, I was counting down to the day I could make a green smoothie at home. I was making the best choices I could with the options I had, but it wasn’t what I’m used to. And even before I got home, I knew which slow living experiment I needed to do in July: slow food.

What is Slow Food?

The slow food movement started in Italy in 1989, shortly after the country’s first McDonald’s franchise opened in Rome. As their website says, Slow Food is a grassroots organization that was founded “to prevent the disappearance of local food cultures and traditions, counteract the rise of fast life and combat people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from and how our food choices affect the world around us.” A lot of the work they do is around food production itself and political activism. It’s a noble cause. But for the sake of this experiment, I’m going to focus on the one thing I can change right now: the food I put into my body.

My Personal Slow Food Experiment

It will start with eating home-cooked meals. I don’t eat a lot of fast food in my normal daily life, as it is, but I’m not going to eat any in July. I want to touch and chop up and cook every ingredient my meals contain. I want to spend just a little more time in the kitchen, so I can appreciate how my meals are prepared. And I would love for my meals to require 10 ingredients or less. The one exception that will allow me to maintain traditions and socialize with friends is I’m going to let myself eat out once a week at the restaurants I know serve locally-sourced food (including the food they grow themselves): The Village in Victoria and Fergie’s in Squamish.

Speaking of locally-sourced food, as part of this experiment, I’m going to see how many ingredients I can swap out for ones that can be sourced in Squamish or in BC as a whole. I’m not going to be super restrictive with this one yet, and not allow myself to eat something just because it’s not from here. I simply want to pay more attention, do some research and swap out as many ingredients as I can.

And then speaking of ingredients, the biggest change I’ll be making this month is cutting out meat from my diet. I was a vegetarian for four years (2009-2013), then went back to eating meat for the past four years, and I have to be honest: it hasn’t always felt great. I really don’t want this to spark any kind of heated arguments, because I think everyone is entitled to eat whatever they want – meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike – so please consider this a safe space for everyone, as we do for every other topic we discuss here. But I do want to share where my head and heart have been at on this topic.

When I decided to become a vegetarian in 2009, it was my way of taking a stance on the animal cruelty that we know exists in the production of our meat. I was a very healthy vegetarian for four years, meaning I ate a balanced diet and got protein from lots of other ingredients. But after travelling for a month straight and not always making healthy choices, I could feel my body physically craving it for the first time and I gave in. Looking back now, I know there were other sources at play. Most of my friends had never supported my decision, so there was definitely some peer pressure. I was also seeing a guy who ate meat and didn’t feel strong enough to maintain my conviction in our new relationship. These aren’t great reasons, I know, but they are honest ones.

I’ve been eating meat again since May 2013, and when I say it hasn’t always felt great, I mean that mostly in a physical sense. As an example, I know my body doesn’t love beef. It just doesn’t. It also doesn’t really like pork. And if we look at non-meat ingredients, like sugar, I know my body doesn’t love that either. It’s interesting that we can know these things about ourselves, but it usually takes a long time (and countless reminders) for us to make a serious change and stop consuming what doesn’t serve us. For me personally, most of my reminders were dished out on the two cross-country road trips I’ve done this year.

There are many different variations of a quote that essentially says we would all be vegetarians if slaughterhouses had glass walls. Whether or not that’s true, I can’t say for sure. But I know I don’t even need to see what happens inside. My heart hurt enough when I saw truck after truck stuffed full of animals on their way to the slaughterhouse on my solo road trip last year. This shouldn’t have been earth-shattering news, but I’ve always been so far removed from the process that seeing it in action gave me pause. So, my own version of that quote would say something along the lines of this: if we could actually see how our food was produced and processed, we might stop eating it.

It gave me pause last summer, but I continued eating meat. From that day on, however, I’ve always felt like there was a misalignment in the food choices I was making. And during the two weeks I was travelling in June, the misalignment became more and more obvious. First, sitting in the passenger seat gave me the opportunity to see even more trucks stuffed full of animals. Then I stayed on that homestead in South Dakota, where the owners were vegan and vegetarian, and we had some great discussions about it (while hanging out with the wife’s chickens). Friends from home sent me news stories about the animal cruelty happening at Lilydale in BC. I felt physically ill for about five days. And then I watched the documentary What the Health on Netflix.

Again, I’m just sharing my personal experience here. I respect everyone’s decision to eat whatever they want and know our decisions are all personal. I think one of the reasons I’ve been so hesitant to switch back to a vegetarian diet is because of the constant criticism it came with. Some people felt like it was a personal attack on their decision to eat meat, and others told me I wasn’t being “good enough to the animals” because I was still eating eggs. The reactions were similar to my decision to quit drinking. Whenever you decide to live a counter-cultural life, people have something to say about it – and when you love those people, it hurts.

But I’m finally at a place where I’m comfortable making the decision to switch back. I know it’s not only a way to say that I care about animal welfare, but it’s also better for my health. (Seriously, watch What the Health.) I don’t know where this change will take me in the future. Maybe I’ll eventually give up eggs and switch to a vegan diet. Maybe I won’t. But in tune with all the experiments I’m doing this year, this is what I need right now.

Experiment #6: Slow Food

  • Eat mostly* home-cooked meals
  • *Eat out max. once/week at restaurants that use locally-sourced ingredients
  • Swap out some ingredients for stuff that can be sourced in Squamish or BC
  • Switch back to a vegetarian diet
  • Eat slowly :)

My goal for this experiment isn’t for “slow food” to be slow, in that it takes up a lot of time or mental energy. I simply want to continue to make more mindful decisions about the food I’m putting into my body, and enjoy that food rather than eat it like it’s going to be taken away from me. I don’t eat a lot of fast food, but I do have a bad habit of eating food quickly. I want to stop that and appreciate what I get to put into my body each and every day. I also want the food choices I make to align with my values. So, that’s the plan. And before the month is up, I’ll be sure to share some of my favourite meals and recipes with you!

For now, I’d love to know yours: do you have any favourite vegetarian/vegan recipes? Or links to favourite recipe blogs?

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  • Loved this blog post, and I’m feeling inspired to eat more ‘slow food’ myself after reading it. I also was a vegetarian in my teens, briefly ate meat again in my early twenties when I was dating/living with a meat-eater, and then about a year after our break-up decided it was the right choice for me to switch back to being vegetarian. I feel like it’s a lifelong process learning how to listen to what your body is telling you. Your slow experiment sounds like such a great way to get more in touch with what you need more (or less) of in your life. Congratulations & good luck with July – I’m also hoping to do more of my own cooking this month, so this was a great post to read! For veg-friendly recipes, I love The Garden Grazer, Ambitious Kitchen and Oh My Veggies. I also get tons of ideas from Pinterest :)

    • Thanks for the recommendations, Alison! And I love this: “I feel like it’s a lifelong process learning how to listen to what your body is telling you.” Couldn’t agree more.

  • I was a vegetarian for eight years and it worked for me at that time in my life. It stopped being right for me and I’ve been eating meat for the last three years. I’m sure at some point in my life I’ll go veggie again. You just have to listen to your body and feed it when it needs! And that’s different for every body, on any given day. Can’t wait to read how it goes this month!

    • Just listen to your body, like you said. And it should be a great month. Four days in and I feel great :)

  • I’m a lifelong vegetarian. So I haven’t eaten any meat for the last 32 years :) I also eat mostly vegan (cheese is still an issue, but not as much lately.) Let me know if you need help!

    • Ooo, you’re probably the 5th person to mention this site to me in the past couple of weeks! That means I have to take it seriously ;) thanks, friend! And happy dining at home! xo

  • I’ve been cooking up a storm from the (vegan) First Mess cookbook by Laura Wright and everything I’ve made has been delicious and relatively easy. In fact, today I have one of her homemade granola bars with me for a snack, and I’ll be eating her sweet potato and tempeh chili for dinner tonight. Some of the recipes call for ingredients that might not be easy to find everywhere, but she offers options for substitutions. She also has a blog, and while I haven’t tried anything from it, I bet the recipes are good. Oh, and I’m not vegetarian, though I stick to a largely plant-based diet. Enjoy your month of slow food, and if you come across any great new recipes, I bet a lot of us would love it if you shared them!

    • I will absolutely share the recipes I try and love, Amanda! Thanks for sharing some info on First Mess :)

  • I love this! We switched to a (mainly) Whole Foods plant based diet almost a year and a half ago and it still amazes me how easily my body tells me what it does and doesn’t like – and how hard it can be to listen!

    I DEFINITELY recommend Clean Food Dirty Girl – all of her recipes are vegan / plant based and delicious. Molly and team run the blog. I know you don’t really use Facebook, but they also have a private Facebook community that is by far the most respectful supportive group of people I’ve ever seen in my life. There is a strict no jerks policy and anyone who is rude is booted immediately. The best thing is it’s about meeting everyone where they are. Regardless of where you are (omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, plant based, something else) it’s about supporting each other and helping one another reach their food (and oftentimes) health goals. It’s a community built around food – but more than that it’s a community where you can always get support on whatever life throws your way. A note for anyone checking the community or blog out – there is adult language and adult topics in both so don’t be surprised!

    • Haha, ok, I love the name of her blog already… so I’ll definitely check that out! And adult language doesn’t bother me ;) appreciate the heads up for everyone, though! No surprises!

    • I love Dana’s stuff :) can’t wait to try a few of her recipes this month! Do you have any faves!?

  • Good on you for listening to your body and going back to being vegetarian! If you’re interested, Forks Over Knives is another food documentary similar to What The Health, as is Cowspiracy (more of the environmental impact of eating meat than health but very interesting).
    My fiancé and I have been vegetarian for the last 2 years or so, and we have definitely found that the biggest ‘hardship’ involved has been the negative reactions from friends and family (and not being deprived of meat as they seem to think!). We’ve recently moved to Sweden though and I’m studying a master’s course in sustainability and most of my classmates and new friends are vegetarian! It’s AMAZING 😄 Vegetarianism is definitely gaining in popularity, especially in the younger generations, so hopefully people will be more understanding this time for you :)
    My absolute favorite veggie food blogger is minimalist baker – super simple recipes we eat 2-3 times a week at least: https://minimalistbaker.com
    I also love Green Kitchen Stories – their recipes are a bit more complex but great for inspiration and their blog is beautiful! http://www.greenkitchenstories.com
    I also follow @bosh.tv on Instagram for cool, quick vegan recipes and The Vegan Corner on YouTube (I think they have a blog too).
    Lastly, Deliciously Ella has some great recipes and we found her blog very helpful when we started eating vegetarian. I especially like that she rarely uses ingredients like tofu and seitan which other veggie bloggers use a lot – she mostly sticks to ingredients I knew before being vegetarian, which is much less intimidating! https://deliciouslyella.com

    • Jessica, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate all the links and the descriptions of why you love each site so much! Thank you, thank you! And it sounds like you and your husband are in the perfect place for where you’re at in life right now :) made me smile!

  • Community by Hetty McKinnon ( my absolute favourite )
    Veg Everyday by Hugh Fernly-Whitingstall
    Food to Make You Glow by Lola Berry
    Living the Heakthy Life ( does include a few meat recipes but very whilefood focused ) by Jessica Sepel
    Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson

    These are my go-to veg cookbooks. I’m not a vegetarian but I love veggie based food & these books are all super great. All the authors have Instagram accounts so you could check them out to see if their food is your type of thing before grabbing a book but I doubt you’d regret buying any of them :)

    • Thank you so much, Reannon! I actually love borrowing cookbooks from the library first, to see how many recipes I would try before buying. So these are all on the list!

  • I love this idea. I have struggled with how to incorporate more “slow” & healthy/plant based foods into my diet. I also watched that documentary on Netflix and it reaffirmed for me that I need to make a change. I’m excited to hear how this turns out for you so I can gain some inspiration for my own journey.

  • Ugh, it’s like you wrote this blog post to me ☺️.

    I’ve been contemplating becoming vegetarian for awhile. I was briefly as a teenager (on a dare), but I wasn’t particularly mindful or healthy in my food choices (think ice cream as dinner). I’ve been learning to listen to my body, which unfortunately, isn’t a fan of the foods that make my tastebuds swoon. I’ve tried to justify eating meat by making myself think that the meat I purchase is ethically sourced (the lies we tell ourselves for steak), and it doesn’t help that my husband’s uncles own and operate a local meat shop.

    Alas, I think I will go on this journey with you.

    • Thank you for sharing some of what’s been on your mind, Ansley. I can certainly appreciate what you feel is stacked against you. Some of the people in my family fish and hunt, so I totally get how difficult it can be to have different food preferences (and feel like the odd one out). For me, I think I’m at a good place where I’m truly comfortable with the eating decisions other people make. If anything, I’ll only suggest my family eats less meat because it’s better for their health. But ultimately, what they put in their mouths is up to them – and what we put in our mouths is up to us. Good luck! :)

  • I was vegetarian for many years and then quit for a while. I am now back to being a vegetarian again, but i do eat meat occasionally – perhaps 2 or 3 percent of the time, especially when there are traditional dishes made for the many Jewish holidays. It’s been eye opening to do something not to the full extent and I could probably go on like this forever. I would recommend Yotam Ottelonghi’s food-you can read his column in the Guardian which is often vegetarian. His food isn’t simple or quick but it is wonderful. Best of luck

  • Really interesting. I love the Minimalist Baker blog, that features plenty of vegan recipes. I have started juicing a month ago, and I would totally recommend this as part of your slow food experiment, maybe next month. It takes time to juice two pounds of carrots, and spinach, fennel, parsley, beets and everything else. Since I started juicjng, I had weird sudden burst of craving for a day, but mostly reduced appetite, and wanting more fruits and veggies on a daily basis, with reduced sugar intake. I am interested in calorie reduction as well, not for loosing weight but for feeling better and live in better health. Fasting is also on my list of experiments, even if I am not sharing these on my blog yet. Whatever you do, eating home cooked meals with less meat, dairy, gluten and sugar is bound to make a significant difference in how you feel, both physically and emotionally. Digesting food is an activity that requires a lot of energy. When this is reduced, the body gets more energy to regenerate itself, rest and heal. Happy slow food month !

    • Good suggestion, Agnes! I actually had a juicer years ago and found it spiked my blood sugar – something I don’t want to do, as there is Type II Diabetes in my family. But I certainly know a lot of people who enjoy juicing and feel the many benefits of doing so. :)

  • Hi Cait! A message I really needed to hear, so thank you so much. I was a vegetarian for a while but started eating meat again for a number of reasons but need to revisit my belief systems and ensure they align. Really recommend My New Roots for vegetarian recipes, Sarah makes delicious food.

    • Thanks for the suggestion, Natasha! I hope you find and do whatever aligns with your beliefs (and what your body asks for).

      • Ooh yes this book is beautiful, plus it’s divided by seasons (including “early summer” and “late summer” – so poetic!) which helps with seasonal inspiration. She has a new one out, check that one out maybe – it’s got simpler, more accessible recipes. Her name’s Sarah Britton but the name of her new book escapes me.

        I love Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy – again, it’s beautiful, and it’s divided by vegetable type. I’m such a sucker for aesthetics. I just got her new one, called In My Kitchen, which is full of simple recipes. I’m really looking forward to trying some.

        My weeknight dinner go-to is Oh She Glows. I’m surprised by how much I use it, but the chana masala is great, so are the enchiladas.

        I have a small obsession with cookbooks, especially the beautiful ones… but usually I just google an ingredient combination for inspiration. Tonight I googled asparagus and lemon (trying to squeeze in one more asparagus meal before the season’s behind us!) and found an easy Jamie Oliver recipe to give me some direction.

        I feel you on travelling while vegetarian. I’ve been stuck with cheese and bread combinations more times than I dare to count. And vegetarian airplane meals….. ☹️
        I’m tired of protein bars and dried fruit as in-a-pinch snacks… any suggestions?!

  • No one should never have to explain why they eat the way they choose to. I had to give up certain foods due to acid reflux and people question my decision to do that rather than take a pill. I just smile and say this is what works best for me and then I change the subject.

    I had to learn to slow down my eating pace and I found putting the utensil down between bites and trying to throughly chew and taste my food helps.

    I wish you happy cooking and good health!

  • I read somewhere that you should aim to chew each bite of food 100 times before swallowing. I have never actually been able to do that… But sometimes it is fun to try, even if only to slow yourself down a little… :)

  • I was a vegetarian for 7 years and switched back mostly out of laziness and a love of bacon. I do try to minimize the amount of meat that I eat, but I’m definitely imperfect.

    One of my favourite vegan recipes is a sweet potato soup from the Moosewood Cookbook. I will make a batch to freeze and then eat it for lunch with toast or something else to bulk it up a bit. I don’t personally bother with the scallions/chives, although the original recipe says not to skip them.

    http://www.food.com/recipe/west-african-peanut-soup-134219#activity-feed

  • Hi Cait
    I just watched What the health on Netflix. It is a really powerful show. Thank you for recommending it. I have been eating a whole foods plant based diet for about 2 years. I love eating this way and I love knowing that I am doing all I can to be healthy with this diet and exercise. That being said it can be tough eating a plant based diet in a meat eating world. Having supportive friends and family that also eat this way is really important to sticking with this diet in the long term. I recommend the Oh She Glows blog, App and cookbooks.

  • Do you know after years eating meat without problems I started to have cramps and then I had a urgery to remove a cyst, well I discovered to have endometriosis and so I started to change my diet, honestly I still eat fish but meat almost nothing (and only turkey or chicken because I have digestive issue with ther kinds of meat)…most of my friends are meat lover but they don’t judge me when we eat out and I order vegetarian options…everyone must to eat what is better for his/her body…I’m sure your slow food experiment will be great:D

    • Oh no, I’m so sorry to hear you suffer from endometriosis, Giulia. It’s wonderful you’ve figured out the diet that helps relieve some of your pain. Keep doing what’s right for you, always. <3

  • How interesting! I was also vegetarian for a long time (over 14 years) and began eating some meat as I experimented with different types of eating from raw to paleo. Over the last 7 years, all the experimentation led my doctor to finally properly diagnose my lactose intolerance, which has helped me heal my gut. But I have also felt the urge to return to vegetarianism, like I once did. (I ate eggs, and sometimes fish, so I was more of a slackerterian, or I think it’s called pescatarianism.) thanks for writing this- it resonates in just the right way.

    One good blog is Oh She Glows. Her food is simple and delicious, and she’s written in the past about her struggles with food and her finding of joy. I also enjoy Ani Phyo’s books- she’s a raw foodie adamant that she’s not an all or nothing person, and writes about sometimes realizing she’s craving hot or cooked food, so she lets herself have it. Terry Water’s book Clean Food is also lovely.

    • I’m right there with you re: lactose intolerance. Honestly, I think they say something like 70%+ of humans are? We weren’t meant to consume this stuff. Anyway… it’s good you were proactive and figured out what your body likes/doesn’t like! And I love Angela’s blog! Will have to check out the other resources, thanks Libby :)

  • Angela Lidden is a Canadian food blogger who is vegan (www.ohsheglows.com), and Heidi Swanson is a Bay Area food blogger who is vegetarian (www.101cookbooks.com). Both are great!

  • My doctor told me to lower my cholesterol to become 80-90% vegan. So far it is really working! Here is one of my favorite vegan recipes: (Roasted Root blog)

    Cajun Corn Chowder

    INGREDIENTS
    4 ears corn shucked and steamed
    2 large red potatoes peeled and chopped
    3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
    1 large white onion
    5 cloves large garlic minced
    3 large carrots peeled and chopped
    3 large stalks celery chopped
    1 large red bell pepper cored and chopped
    1-½ teaspoons sea salt
    2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
    ½ teaspoon paprika
    ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
    2/3 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
    2 cups water

    INSTRUCTIONS
    Place ears of corn into a large pot and fill with water. Cover the pot with a lid and place on the stove over high heat. Bring to a full boil and cook until corn is plump and juicy, about 5 to 8 minutes.
    Use tongs to remove corn from the boiling water and place on a cutting board.

    Chop one of the red potatoes in half and carefully place into the same pot of boiling water you used to cook the corn. Allow potato to cook until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes.

    While the potato is cooking, saute the rest of the vegetables. Add the coconut oil to a large pot, along with the other diced potato, chopped onion, garlic, carrots, celery, bell pepper, sea salt, Cajun seasoning, paprika, and cumin. Heat to medium-high and saute, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.

    Use a knife to remove the corn kernels from all of the ears of corn. Place half of the kernels in a blender, along with the cooked potato. Add the coconut milk and water to the blender, and blend until completely smooth. This may take two or three rounds of blending.

    Add the remaining corn kernels to the pot with the sauteed vegetables, and pour the blended corn/potato (chowder) mixture into the pot. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until potato has softened, about 10 to 20 minutes.

    Remove from heat and taste chowder. Add sea salt and Cajun seasoning as desired. Serve with chopped green onion.

    • Yum yum yum, this sounds delicious, Linda! Thanks for sharing, and for telling me about The Roasted Root :)

  • I should really do something like this. I really don’t enjoy cooking (something you rarely hear people admit to for some reason), so we are guilty of eating out way more than we should. We just made over our kitchen though and I love it so hopefully that will inspire me to spend a little more time there from now on? :-)

    I’ve thought about trying to go vegetarian, but I worry about the extra amount of effort and research that would have to go into planning and preparing my meals, since I’m already not such an apt cook. I have thought about trying to start small by giving up red meat first, and then gradually weening myself off the others.

    • I would say don’t even stress about what to eliminate yet. Instead, start by picking ONE easy vegetarian recipe, making that a few times (if you like it) and then picking another :) just focus on getting into the kitchen.

  • Hi Cait! A great blog that I am almost certain you have already heard of is the Minimalist Baker. All of her recipes either take 30 minutes to make, or have 10 or less ingredients and are all vegetarian/vegan. I absolutely LOVE her quinoa tacos. They are so darn good. I am pescetarian so I still eat fish (I try to avoid things like crab, lobsters and octopus). I don’t eat fish very often, maybe once or twice a week and a very small portion at that. I agree with you, in that I’ve had someone close to me also tell me I’m not doing enough for animals because I still eat eggs and fish. It’s ironic that they said that given that they are a meat eater. But you are right, it hurts, especially when you feel like you are really trying. Something I have finally learnt however is that one person can make a huge difference, and a small change, can have a great impact. Even if everyone simply took part in Meatless-Mondays, but continued eating meat for the rest of the week – that would make SUCH a difference. That being said, and like you said, we are all capable of making our own decisions and choices and those will be different for each of us. Wishing you the best of luck with your slow food experiment!

    • Thanks for all the words of encouragement, Ashleigh! And I’m actually with you, in that I could see myself eating fish in the future. Some of the members of my family like to fish, so I know where it comes from and how it’s killed, etc. But who knows, I’m saying that now but maybe I’ll never eat a piece of fish again in my life! Will see where my body and head and heart are at then. For now, I’m on Day 5 without any meat and am feeling great :)

  • Hi Cait! I’ve been vegetarian since I was 21 (now 46) and I appreciate how criticism (“concern”) from people you love hurts. Raising vegetarian children, too. 2 things from these past 25 years that have help me move through life easier: 1) I tell people I don’t eat meat. (I do eat dairy, eggs and some seafood but less and less as I age and get better at listening to my body). It’s less politically charged than saying I’m vegetarian. It also helps get me invited for dinner, as in “I eat what you eat but no meat.” and 2) Everyone is a hypocrite, and there will always be someone more “vegetarian” than you are. You have to make peace with what’s ok for you and not ok. My rule: I will eat it if I could kill it. Salmon, yup, could kill it. Cow, nope. I see no difference between eating a parrot and a chicken (other than price!), or a pig and a German Shepherd.
    I agree, knowing where our food is coming from and what else is in it/on it is key to healthy, happy eating. In my grandma’s day, if you bought something labelled as chicken, it had only chicken in it. Now it could have 15% 20% ??% “restructured products” but labelled just as chicken. Scary stuff!
    My new favourite vegan cookbooks are Eat Like you Give a F#$@ (not for those easily offended but non-stop cursing) and Oh, She Glows (the Tex Mex Casserole is a family favourite and freezes well). The Minimalist Baker is also awesome, as mentioned in previous comments.
    Good luck!

  • I tried to watch “What the Health,” but I had to stop it. After he started talking about how eating fish was no good, I stopped. I was afraid I would be left without any food options. :P

  • Love this post!!! I’ve been a vegetarian for 5 years now and am still shocked by how many people criticize me for that. I am not the person who lectures you about why you shouldn’t eat meat, in fact, I hate telling people because I can’t stand somebody wanting to debate the issues with me. I made the personal decision based on a health diagnosis (multiple sclerosis) and I respect everybody’s right to put what they want in their own bodies. My boyfriend eats meat daily and that’s ok with me!

    I also work for a vegan company but am the only vegetarian in my department. Every time we have a food related event (at least twice a month!) I spend the whole time fending off people who are trying to figure out what I can eat! They think just because it doesn’t have meat, it’s ok for me but it’s not (I don’t do deep fried, rice, preservatives, and the list goes on). I rather just eat the food I brought from home and know it’s safe. A coworker once told me I have good self control….it’s not called self control when you dislike the food!!

    As for my favourite recipe blogs, Minimalist Baker…. the quinoa taco “meat” is so versatile, you can put it on anything and I love all her ice cream recipes, perfect for the summer! The other I use is Oh She Glows. I love the chickpea salad sandwich recipe. I usually mix up the chickpea salad part and just throw it on some greens every day for a quick and easy lunch!

  • I think cooking meals at home would definitely be the best way for anyone to be more mindful of their food choices. Looking up recipes, shopping for the ingredients, reading about food…. it all just makes you really think about what you’re consuming. Even you don’t give much for the hype around how bad for you processed meat is, unprocessed just tastes better. Same with eating more fruits and vegetables; it just tastes better. And even if you don’t think sugar is slowly killing you, it’s still disconcerting to make muffins and see just how much sugar you pour into them. So you slowly find yourself making better choices every day… Can’t wait to see your recipes!

  • Hi Cait !
    Haven’t “comment chatted” with you in awhile in this blog. My apologies, friend.

    I enjoyed what you had to say about slow living and slow eating. I do have to say though, Cait, that in reading about your June activities with your dad (in Victoria), as well as being with your friends (in Squamish, then in Minneapolis, next in the Black Hills National Forest, then on to Jackson, and then – last but not least – Boise. I’m getting pooped out just writing this – lol) , if you call that “slow living” then yours truly is operating on “snail living”! (But I digress …) :-)

    On the topic of slow eating, well I enjoy a nice steak maybe about once a year (on Father’s Day) as well as the occasional hamburger / hot dog at a family bbq but mainly my wife and I are into veggies, fish, poultry and chicken. I guess it all depends on one’s personal metabolism, eh?

    Oh, and one last thing before I go –
    a very Happy Birthday to you, my friend. I do hope that in your future all your wishes come true. Now don’t forget to save me a piece of b/day cake! :-)

  • I recently watched ‘What the Health’ as well and it was eye opening. I haven’t eaten red meat or pork in a decade, but I eat chicken and some fish. I’m also a former veggie- three years in college. I’m making my way back there- dairy and meat are out right now, but I love my eggs. I applaud you and know that you’ve got a partner in this in Texas!

  • I hear you on the meat eating thing. I compromise because my husband is a total carnivore and doesn’t understand why someone chooses to be vegetarian. My body likes fish, but red meat and chicken aren’t that great for me.

    I’m definitely interested to see how your experiment goes. I gave up coffee a few years ago for a month just to see what would happen and I realize it was the thing that was making my body sluggish!

  • I’m loving these slow living experiments. Like you said, they are so counter cultural, but they are beneficial. I’ve started noticing what you’ve been noticing, our fast paced, consumerism world, and it does not make for healthy or happy human beings! Thank you for going against the norm and writing/doing things that may not of popular thought, but are better for you.

  • I am 52 and haven’t eaten meat since I was 14 (they said it was a “phase” haha). I eat fish occasionally, usually when there are no good veg options at restaurants or friends’ homes.

    Like another reader, I find it easier to say “I’m not a meat eater,” than to to say I am vegetarian (which I technically am not anyway). When asked why, I tell the truth, which is that I don’t like meat. That somehow seems acceptable to even strident carnivores. Why people care what others eat is beyond me.

    I like an old cookbook called “Vegetarian Express Lane.” Blogs, I like Smitten Kitchen a lot. She isn’t 100% veg but most of her recipes are (try the 3 bean chili) and they ALWAYS work. I also like 101 Cookbooks.

    Best wishes and cheers to yummy non-meat cooking!

  • One of my former coworkers had to go vegan for her health, She found that when she absolutely had to bring up her diet (when dating and needing to go to appropriate restaurants and similar) she described herself as “plant based”. You’re right when you say that people get very defensive but at least for her she didn’t experience it once she started using plant based.

    Love the post, this is a very similar approach to mine in regards to food. I feel the most connected to myself when I’m creating something from scratch in the kitchen.

  • What a thoughtful way to approach (and adress) food and eating choices. I am a vegetarian for 2 or 3 years, it’s hard to tell because I didn’t decide to be a vegetarian, it just happened over time. For easy and delicious meals I really like http://thestonesoup.com/blog/
    The recipes are not vegetarian, but she always includes lots of variations for different diets and most of the time she will use just 5 to 10 ingredients. Good luck with your experiment and have fun cooking and eating.

  • I highly respect your decision to be a vegetarian. My own food allergies (no gluten, no soy, limited nightshades, limited dairy) make eating outside the home nearly impossible(many restaurants already don’t want to serve me) so at this time I am not completely giving up meat. I don’t think I could maintain my health and any socialization! I am working on eating less meat. This is challenging as my personal chef aka my husband is a true meat-eater. If I am honest I do occasionally truly enjoy a good steak.

    Now that it is summer here in the Ottawa Valley I am also trying to eat more local produce as well.

    I hope you find the best healthy diet for you.

  • I find going back to dining etiquette basics makes for an instant slow food meal. Cut one bite at a time only. Same with bread, tear one bite size piece at a time and butter only that piece. Make sure each bite is small and easily chewed. Put your knife down when not cutting. After every three or four small bites rest your cutlery and take a small pause to allow for conversation. These basic guidelines allow for dinner party conversation without awkward chewing, as well as allow you to actually eat instead of talking. Taking the 3-4 small bites forces you to listen to the other person and gives them time to finish their thought. If you are by yourself, cutting one piece at a time, eating in these small bites, pausing, all allow you to enjoy each component and not rush the meal.
    Basic etiquette has been the standard for ages because it works. When I remember these basics I find they flow to other areas of my life. Dining etiquette allows me to feel like I’m worth treating myself which lets me accept the increased self worth before bashing it away in a fit of negativity. It’s a small thing with a huge impact on my self esteem, self worth, and self confidence.
    Wow! That went deep! In short – Act like a princess and you will feel like a queen :)
    Have a great day!

  • I think no matter what you decide to do diet-wise, life choices, slow living, etc. it’s so wise to change things up in life and try new things to see how your body reacts, or if your mood improves, if you end up just liking something new or a change in routine too. So much of us suffer from serious fatigue and the need to be busy all the time, or we get in a rut with life. I feel like your slow living posts are really speaking to me on that level,

  • Hello,
    I have just discovered you on the uncluttered course. I believe it was filmed 2015 but it’s my first time signing up.
    I googled blonde on a budget and it seems you are done with that title.

    I am so grateful to have found your work and look forward to reading your years of writing.

    I have been vegetarian for…30years I think. Never went back. I’m raising my daughter who is now 9 as a vegetarian.

    I really want for us to live a vegan lifestyle. We do not eat eggs and early have cows milk but she loves pizza and when she eats it I eat it.

    I think that your writing style and lack of judgment of others will be quite refreshing to witness your experience.

    Thanks for being you.

    Haley Tyagi

  • Recently have been reading a book called Folks This Ain’t Normal by Joel Salatin, so this post is very timely for me. To be honest I had really rarely thought about the whole food industrial complex before, but this book has me thinking. It shined a light onto how government and big food lobbyist make it almost impossible for us to get good food. Vegetables, meat or otherwise.

  • I have been following your blog for a couple of years now and I have been waiting for this post from you :) It just seemed like going veggie fit in perfectly with all the other changes you were making in your life. So glad you decided to make the change back! I think someone else mentioned it but Minimalist Baker is one of my all time favorite vegan blogs and she almost always uses only 10 ingredients or less! Hot for Food and Liv’s Healthy Life are also both awesome blogs/Youtube channels and they are both Canadian :) Goodluck Cait!