Vegetarian Kitchen: Long-term vegetarians say a lot has changed for the better, but that’s only half the story – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a seven-part series on what it’s like to be a vegetarian in Maine today.

At a time when most of her peers are retired and some are finding themselves occupying hospital beds, Carole Hunne- well, 80, works four nights a week as an intensive care nurse. She fills the rest of her time volunteering for children’s causes and animal shelters.

“My mind is sharp, and people say I have an incredible memory,” Hunnewell told me. “That’s a vegan-vegetarian diet that has done that for me.”

Hunnewell, a native of Maine, adopted a vegetarian diet in the 1960s when she was in her late 20s and living in Pennsylvania. In recent years, she moved toward a vegan diet.

“I decided one day that no animals should die so I could eat,” said Hunnewell, who lives in Brunswick. “I never ate meat again.”

Based on my interviews with more than a dozen Mainers who have been vegetarian for at least 10 years, Hunnewell’s strong will is a common trait. People who are happy to go with the flow and decide to become vegetarians often find that the flow heads right back to the hamburger joint. According to a recent survey by the Humane Research Council, 84 percent of people who adopt a vegetarian diet eventually start eating meat again. However, more than a third of these former vegetarians say they’d like to give up meat again. It seems only the tough (some might say stubborn) survive to become long-term vegetarians.


Beyond persistence, veteran vegetarians in Maine tend to have acquired the skills needed to navigate the awkward social situations that can come with the territory.

Kevin Fahrman, 59, of Falmouth is well practiced in this realm. He has been a vegetarian for ethical reasons since 1973, when he was a freshman at the University of Maine at Orono. After reading that feeding crops to livestock produces less food for humans than feeding the same grain to people, Fahrman said, “I had an epiphany.”

A meat-based diet is “not an efficient way of feeding the world,” he said.

But he won’t tell you the same if you meet him at a dinner party and ask why he’s a vegetarian.

“You do have to bite your lip and say, ‘I don’t like all that cholesterol,’ ” Fahrman said of the delicate dance vegetarians sometimes perform to keep the tone of a gathering civil.

After close to 30 years of being a vegetarian myself, I too have learned to choose my words carefully. Telling someone seated near me at the dinner table that I eat this way for ethical reasons implies that his or her food choices are suspect. And who wants to hear that over roast chicken?

That said, the dinner party is one area where long-term vegetarian Roberta de Araujo of Portland has noticed a big change.

To finish reading this article, click on this link:  via Vegetarian Kitchen: Long-term vegetarians say a lot has changed for the better, but that’s only half the story – The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.

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