A vegetarian by any other name

vegetarian_xlargeWhen is a vegetarian not a vegetarian ?  If you are a pescatarian are you still a vegetarian ?  How about if you are a pollotarian ? Then there are those who are the vegetarian “inclined”.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of being part of the studio audience for the ICS program Culture Matters.  The show was titled Vegetarians vs Meat Eaters and while the title sounds a bit antagonistic, the show aimed at informing the audience  about the wide variety of vegetarian lifestyles  people are adopting and the vegetarian scene here in Shanghai.

Being called a vegetarian today is like being labelled an Asian or an American.  The group has a common denominator, namely limiting animal products in their lives to different degrees , but nowdays there are all types of eating proclivities that fall under the umbrella of vegetarianism.  

If you are old school, a vegetarian is someone who doesn’t eat meat for a variety of reasons, from health to religion to animal compassion. And that means meat, the flesh of any animal be it a cow or a snake.  Over the years this lifestyle has grown to include ovolacto-vegetarians, people who still eat eggs and dairy but avoid meat. Then there are the vegans, who don’t eat or wear anything that comes from an animal,( they are ones wearing sneakers).  As of yesterday I learned that there are people who don’t eat meat except chicken ( pollo people) and those that eat only fish ( the pesky group).

Now to my audience that thinks I am making fun please read on.  I will admit that I am kidding a bit on the labels. I believe that people should eat any way they want and make any lifestyle choice that feels comfortable to them without having to have a label attached.

The most important and only  label  that should be attached to your eating style should be  HEALTHY ! Vegetarians who make poor foods choices can be just as unhealthy and subject to the same chronic disease risks as your steak eater. Kudos to the guest speakers on Cultures Matters for emphasizing this point more than once.

The best part of yesterday’s taping was getting to sample the delicious vegetarian dishes provided by KUSH and Dashuwujie restaurants. Both these establishments promote healthy eating  and subscribe to the tenets of the Slow Food Movement, including local, clean and seasonal food. I hesitate to “label” them vegetarian restaurants because the food is so tasty that everyone who is looking for a good meal should give KUSH and Dahsuwujie a try.

The ICS  show, Culture Matters, airs on Saturday nights at 7 pm and this particular segment will be on sometime in March.  If you would like to know more about vegetarianism or just about good food, contact the Shanghai Vegetarian Club, all eaters are welcome, at www.shanghaivegetarians.com

Eat Well, Live Well, Have Fun !