A Vegetarian February
Whether sparked by a book, a film, a conversation or something else entirely, there is a growing sense among Americans that complacency in our diets and purchasing habits is no longer good enough. But making these changes — to eat only local or organic food, or to give up meat forever — can feel overwhelming.
For those looking for a way to test the waters of change before jumping in headfirst, the Web site Veguary is a project aimed at getting people to change their eating habits by reducing their meat consumption for the month of February. “By reducing your meat intake you’ll start eating sustainably, start eating healthfully, and start eating consciously,” the site says.
Andrew Udell, a High School student at The Abraham Joshua Heschel School in Manhattan, who started the project last year, was inspired by a speech given by his rabbi about the ability of individuals to effect change. For Udell, this message translated into thinking about the effects of meat on the environment and health, and how he could make a difference by changing his personal eating habits. Daunted by the idea of changing from carnivore to vegetarian overnight, he decided to start by cutting meat out from his diet for just one month. Udell was later joined by two other students at Heschel, Skyler Siegel and Lizzie Davis and Veguary was born.
On the site, visitors can pledge to be vegetarian, flexitarian, pescatarian, or simply “reductarian” (eating leass meat) for the month of February. By choosing the shortest month of the year and providing options, the Veguary pledge makes committing to change one’s eating habits a feasible action rather than a daunting overhaul. So far over 400 people have pledged to Veguary 2011.
Whether or not you are vegetarian year round, this kind of commitment, made in a Jewish context, can be a powerful way to focus your life through food. Jewish tradition teaches us to be conscious about our food choices, and it is up to us to make these choices with intention and follow through on our decisions.