Saturday, September 25, 2010

To Eat Meat, or Not to Eat Meat

That is the question.

-note- The photos that appear in this post are of the chicken pot pie that Jon lovingly made earlier this week. It feed the two of us for two meals and was delicious! See the bottom of this post to find the recipe he used for the crust (also great for other pies, like apple).

This blog post was inspired by a invitee couple who are both vegetarian/vegan. They asked, "Based on your experience, do you believe we will have options other than meat, including the time with host families? Just curious to see if you think this will be a great source of frustration for us."

As far as food in general is concerned, Morocco is probably one of the best Peace Corps countries to be sent. Unlike some other countries (like in Sub-Saharan Africa) we have a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. A wider variety than in Ohio in fact. And with the exception of cheese, which is available in larger urban areas, you can find almost everything else you could want in or near even the smallest sites; bread, milk, yogurt, butter, olive oil, eggs, meat, beans, lentils, rice, spaghetti, plenty of spices, dried fruit, nuts, etc.

So the short answer is, yes, there are many other options other than meat, and as a married couple you will probably be pressured to eat at other people's houses less often than a single volunteer would once you are living on your own. Though Jon and I are not vegetarians ourselves, we eat meat (usually chicken) rarely (maybe once a month or so) and instead get the majority of our protene from the before mentioned beans, lentils, nuts, eggs, and milk.

But lets talk about home stay. For about four months you will be living with two different families. Yes, you can have Peace Corps explain to the families that you are vegetarian/vegan and what you do and do not eat (because you probably wont be able to yourselves with your limited speaking abilities at first), but it might be difficult for the families to fully understand because vegetarians/vegans don't really exist in this culture.

There are many reasons why people are vegetarian/vegan and you might want to examine the reasons why you are. Is it because of animal cruelty, global warming, religion, you don't like the idea of eating something that was once alive? And also think about how long you've been a vegetarian/vegan. The reason you might want to do this is because you might want to consider eating meat while you are here, at least for those four months when you are in home stay and going through a lot of other stresses such as learning the language, living with strangers, living in another culture, being stared at, lack of privacy and anonymity, and no mater what, you will likely have an array of GI problems on top of all of this.

That said, Peace Corps tries to be as supportive and accomidating as possible to vegetarian/vegan volunteers. Eating meat every day wont be a requirment of your survice, but to fully exsperience the culture, and food is a large part of culture, you might want to at least try it, depending on how you feel about being vegetarian/vegan. If you do decide to "go for it" and eat meat while your here you might want to start getting your body used to it ahead of time so that it is less of a shock. If you decide that you just can't do it, for whatever reason, know that you're not alone, there are other vegetarian/vegan volunteers out there and that you will be supported as much as possible by Peace Corps staff. There is even an entire section in our Peace Corps cook book dedicated to vegetarian main dishes!

I hope that this post has been helpful in some way to anyone out there who is a vegetarian/vegan and considering joining Peace Corps. I recommend seeking out volunteers who are currently serving the the country that you have been invited to who are actually vegetarian/vegan, as they will probably be better resources. You can ask your recruter to put you in touch with either current or returned PCVs.

Now for that recipe
Picture Perfect Pie Crust Recipe

1 1/8 c flour
8 T cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 t sugar (optional, best for sweet pies but omit if using for a savory pie)
1/2 t salt
3 T cold water

Combine the flour, salt ,and sugar, then add the butter and blend using your hands until the butter is distributed throughout and the mixture looks like cornmeal. Add the cold water and form into a dough, if it is too dry add more water. Make the dough into a ball, wrap in a plastic bag and flatten it. Place the dough in the freezer for 10 mins to aid in rolling. Roll the dough into a large circle and about 10 inches in diameter, on a large surface, dusting liberally with flour to avoid sticking. Use any ragged edges to repair tears. When finished rolling, place the dough onto the pie plate, press it firmly to the bottom and prick it all over with a fork. If you want to pre-bake the dought, place for 15-20 mmins or until brown in a 350 F oven.

1 comment:

Megan said...

Thank you very much for posting this article! I believe this answers my questions. My husband and I are pretty uncompromising in our views, so I don't think we'll be giving in and eating meat. But, I really appreciate your response about the wealth of other foods available. My hope was that we wouldn't be stuck eating beans and rice everyday. Some fruits and vegetables are essential, and it is good to see that they are available. I also enjoyed the photos of the Souk. Thanks again, and congratulations on completing your journey with the Peace Corps!