UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Five eating regimes that fall somewhere between Tofurkey and all-you-can-eat ribs

By Pieta Woolley

No crispy bacon and pancakes soaked in buttery maple syrup. No lox and cream cheese on a warm and chewy Montreal-style bagel, with red onions and capers. No blue cheese folded into a tender baby spinach salad.

Nope. To vegans — and the author of The Observer’s recent article “Are Vegan’s Right”  — these succulent masterpieces of fat, salt and soul-satisfying umami do not taste as good as simply saying no to the cultural drug of eating animal products. How radical! And yet, as David Macfarlane points out, not eating a hot dog (or a locally smoked venison sausage with sauerkraut and Dijon, say) is probably not as ethically “extreme” as choosing to support the cruelty inherent in our industrial meat and dairy and fish industries.

So if you’re not up for a nose-to-tail-dive into veganism, but are among the 30 percent of folk who are at least trying to eat less meat, here are five eating regimes that fall somewhere between Tofurkey and all-you-can-eat ribs.

1. Vegetarianism

Don’t eat meat or fish, but other animal products are on the table. Say yes to eggs but no to back bacon; yes to fresh mozzarella on your Margherita pizza but no to salami and capicola on your “meat lovers deluxe;” and yes to the cheddar and mayo but no to the beefy burger patty.

Read this: Diet for a Small Planet, by Frances Moore Lappe. This 1971 visionary classic has its own research institute attached now, and a richly resourced website.

2. Flexitarianism

You’re basically a vegetarian, but you’re at your daughter’s house for dinner and there’s a roast on the table. What do you do? If you’re flexitarian, you smile, eat the roast and even enjoy it. There’s a reason the American Dialect Society named “flexitarian” the “most useful word of 2003.” It allows you to engage comfortably in the social act of eating in an overwhelmingly pro-meat culture while acting on your ethics as a general rule.

Read this: The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat-lovers, and Everyone in Between. Essentially, it’s a cookbook that helps you to negotiate homes with conflicting diets.

3. Wild-i-tarian

Alright. You caught me. This isn’t a real word. But as far as I can tell, there isn’t one yet for this very real and growing ethical eating trend: consuming only meat that has been humanely and sustainably wild-harvested. Venison. Ruffed grouse. Moose. Bear. Quebec chef Martin Picard popularized this on his Food Network show Wild Chef.

Read this: The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian’s Hunt for Sustenance. It’s longtime vegan Toval Cerulli’s tale of craving meat and finding an ethical balance by learning to hunt — and eat — wild game.

4. Pescatarian

No meat, but yes to seafood. Looking into the eyes of a halibut, it’s a stretch to see the same soul-resonance as one might when looking into the eyes of a sheep (it helps, too, that sheep’s eyes point forwards, like humans, whereas halibuts’ eyes are separated onto the top and bottom of their slimy bodies. Oysters and clams: even harder). Doubtless, as Macfarlane described, fish likely don’t enjoy suffocating on the deck of a ship. But unless they’re farmed, they’ve enjoyed a wild, natural life up until the moment of their passing.

Read this: Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, by Montreal writer Taras Grescoe. Even after investigating grim fisheries all over the world, Grescoe continues to eat fish as long as it is ethically procured.

5. Locavorism

As a conscious-eating practice, it’s hard to beat locavores’ regime. Only eat what is produced close to home. Container-shipped mangoes and coffee (even if they’re fairly traded) from equatorial regions to North America is madness. Farmers markets, CSAs and other devices help to make this a simpler proposition for urbanites. And with the environmental consciousness that comes with locavorism, vegetarianism and veganism are often not far behind.

Read this: The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, Vancouver authors Alisa Smith and JB MacKinnon’s locavore manifesto.

Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!


Sandy and Allan Wilson.

“Thank you for being my dopted parents”

by Allan Wilson

Eighteen years after his teen son died of cancer, this writer celebrates a new type of fatherhood when he becomes legal guardian of a man with disabilities.

Promotional Image


The United Church Observer's editor and publisher, Jocelyn Bell. Photo: Lindsay Palmer

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Playing by Heart

by Observer Staff

United Church music director Kara Shaw was born prematurely, became almost totally blind and was later diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Today, the 28-year-old showcases her unique musical ability, performing piano on local and national stages.

Promotional Image


June 2018

Why some women of colour are hesitant to say #MeToo

by Jacky Habib

Three women share their stories in the hope of creating safe spaces they never had.


May 2018

A Kinder Morgan protest in photos and song

by Kimiko Karpoff

On April 28, 2018, faith leaders from many traditions, including the United Church, stood in solidarity with Water Protectors from the Tsleil-Waututh nation to protest the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion in Burnaby, B.C.. Kimiko Karpoff captured the day in pictures.


June 2018

After 93 years, this will be the United Church's last General Council meeting

by Mike Milne

When the United Church meets in July, top priorities will be a streamlined governance structure and Indigenous ministries.


June 2018

#MeToo in the United Church

by Trisha Elliott

9 women share their stories of harassment and sexual assault in the United Church.


May 2018

On grief and the healing power of gardening

by Paul Fraumeni

A writer reflects on how growing tomatoes is helping him find peace while dealing with the loss of loved ones, including his son.


June 2018

Observations: #MeToo

by Jocelyn Bell

Our hope is that by giving voice to these #MeToo stories, a new conversation about sexual misconduct can begin.

Promotional Image