The Vegetarian Ripple Effect

When I stopped eating meat 12 years ago, so did my family. They didn’t actually become vegetarians – my brother and sister were quite vocal about their carnivorous preferences* – but, six nights out of seven, my mother made red beans and rice, or tofu marbella, or cheesy potato soup.

When I moved into my first real apartment, my omnivorous roommates did the same thing. 12 apartments, 6 cities, 3 countries, and 24 roommates later, I can safely say that this phenomenon is universal. Vegetarian moves in, everyone else drastically reduces meat consumption.

In fact, the vegetarian doesn’t even have to move in for this to work. Your omnivorous friend will totally order vegetable dumplings for lunch, just so you can try them. Your boyfriend’s mother, whom you have never met before, will make you miso soup.

This is amazing.

First, it’s incredible how one vegetarian can change the way dozens or hundreds of people eat. Going vegetarian is the carbon equivalent of switching from a Toyota Camry to a Prius, but the multiplier effect from friends, family, and roommates is far bigger.

Secondly, I am always amazed at how generous people are when it comes to the care and feeding of vegetarians. There are an unbelievable number of people who will put aside their preferences so that the vegetarian in their life can eat something tasty.

So, thanks everyone. Thanks for making black bean soup and ordering the pad thai with tofu and letting me try it. It means a lot.

* They’re very supportive now. My sister just spent the weekend ordering vegetarian dishes for the express purpose of letting me eat off her plate in restaurants. She was also a vegetarian for a couple of years in college.

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2 Responses to The Vegetarian Ripple Effect

  1. […] Source of the Vegetarian Ripple Effect By localizing Vegetarianism has a tremendous ripple effect. I’ve been thinking about why this is, and I think it’s because of our deep and abiding […]

  2. Heidi says:

    Wow – and here I thought the amazing ripple effect was just a quirk phenomenon my family is experiencing. 6 months ago my 12 year old son decided to become a vegetarian. A couple months later, our 2 younger boys joined him. In the beginning my husband and I would cook a regular meaty meal with a small “non-meat” version on the side. Then we shifted to 1/2 meat, 1/2 non-meat. What the heck – it was easier to just make it all non-meat, so we did! Now we are a total vegetarian family. But it didn’t stop there… 4 of our son’s friends have also become vegs and are now in the process of similarly impacting their own families! It’s wonderful!

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