(Editors Note: Lauren "Lolo" Reskin, Sweat Records owner, promoter, and all-around cool lady, will occasionally contribnute columns to Riptide about veggie eating in the big city. For more detail, see her blog meatlessmiami.com.)
Vegans and vegetarians are alive and well and living in Miami. It may be shocking to read but despite the renown of Miami's steakhouses and churrascarias, thousands are happily living meatlessly among you. A recent survey puts vegetarians at 3.2 percent of the U.S. population, and rounding Miami's population to a cool 5 million, that's 160,000 of us.
Me? After reading a few books on the subject, I quit meat cold turkey (sorry) just before the end of seventh grade in 1994. My parents thought it was another fad (like my very serious plans to grow up and professionally train dolphins and/or design stickers for Lisa Frank) but here it is almost 15 years later and I'm still happily flesh, fish and fowl-free.
Nowadays it's downright easy to live veggie-style. Back then it still wasn't that hard to be a vegetarian, it was just hard to be a GOOD vegetarian. Side-item samplers and Boca burgers (if that) were pretty much the end of the line when eating out, unless you could stomach a salad for every meal. Fast food French fries and a smoothie were often called "lunch" and as a result, I was anemic until I learned how to eat a balanced variety of foods. I'm happy to report I can now donate blood without being turned away for iron-deficiency.
People ask me all the time why I don't/can't/won't eat meat. There are a lot of reasons, but the simplest way to put it is this: I enjoy all the food that isn't meat more than enough so that no creature needs to meet its maker to be my dinner.
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To me, it's a very small lifestyle adjustment that reaps great rewards. For instance: never having to worry about cholesterol, less guilt on my conscience, lowered risk of many diseases, and cheaper meals at nicer restaurants!
There are also epic environmental benefits, which are too numerous to go into here. A great article that sums them up and puts the global impact of eating meat into perspective can be found here.
Don't get me wrong though, I know it's a personal choice. I don't proselytize (unless asked to), I date a (very considerate) carnivore, and I respect the fact that a lot of people either aren't ready to be fully veg just yet or simply never will be. That said, according to everyone from the UN to food guru Mark Bittman, now is the time to, at the very least, cut down on your flesh intake. Hey, it couldn't hurt.
I look forward to sharing tips, recipes, restaurant reviews, philosophy, interviews with notable veg folks and answering any questions fellow 305'ers might have about being meatless in Miami.