Several weeks ago, as the Lenten season drew near, I began considering what I might give up – and then how I would replace that time or activity, etc… with devotional time or service. Immediately, I was struck by the idea of giving up not eating meat (double negative intentionally used!).
For a year I have been a pescatarian meaning that I eat only seafood in addition to vegetables, dairy, etc… Lauren had done this for many years and I wanted to have my diet be in solidarity with hers. It just gets complicated to have a household divided by dietary needs, and with a new little one, I just thought it would be best.
I didn’t regret my decision at all, nor did I miss meat all that much. (I should clarify that by meat I mean poultry. Lauren and I haven’t eaten beef or pork, except in situations where kindness and hospitality dictated that we do so, in many, many years.) But while I felt good about not eating meat, both ethically and physically, I also hated how complicated my diet made life for others. Those who wanted to cook for us, or have us over for dinner, seemed often stuck scratching their heads over what to cook.
While I might feel strongly about a dietary decision, I hate it that that decision makes the basic hospitality of others overly complicated and even tenuous. I hated that I was often stuck explaining my diet, along with all the why’s and why not’s. I hated the self-righteousness that it would often instill in me, as I, essentially, explained to everyone else how I was “better” or “more sensitive” than they were.
Now, of course, this was not my intention at all. It is, however, often how life played out. I also found myself often complaining about the lack of options I had at certain restaurants, again, somehow making the situation more about me than about fellowship or community.
So I considered giving up not eating meat for Lent. But in the end, I didn’t.
Then, a dietary concern that Lauren had (she has to be very careful, as she needs food not just for herself but for Lily too!), caused her to suggest that she (she didn’t ask me to do it) needed to once again eat poultry, at least temporarily. After a brief discussion I agreed with her and said I wanted to join her (for the same reasons listed above). That was about two weeks ago. Since that time, we’ve been trying to navigate the world of careful meat eating – trying not to overindulge in meat, and trying to still eat a primarily vegetable and seafood diet, but with poultry sprinkled in.
My report: it’s been pretty good. I think in the end, this will allow hospitality to reign much more supremely in our life together. For me, especially, I think this will help to prevent so many situations from being driven back to me and my choices and beliefs. (I need all the help I can get with pride and my ego…) Instead, we can just be.
I think that our ultimate position will be this: when at home, we will still eat a, for-the-most-part, vegetarian diet, but we will eat poultry at times, and definitely seafood. In public, and especially when joining others for a meal, we will gladly eat poultry, seafood, and vegetables. We will continue to refrain from beef and pork, unless our host does not know that we don’t eat these things and prepares a beef or pork dish for us. In that case, we will gladly eat the meal that is prepared for us, enjoy it, and we will be grateful for the hospitality and sustenance.
Well those are my thoughts about this recent development in our lives this Lenten season.
I’d love to read your thoughts about all of this.