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Eating less meat, but not yet ready for cold turkey

I’ve been eating largely vegetarian this summer and the results feel good. I sense I am more well-thought of by cows and pigs, in general. I’m still not too popular with poultry, though.

I am aware of, and even in agreement with, the reasons for giving up most meat, revolving around efficient feeding of the world and global warming. I am quite content with a veggie burger.

I can go for months without dreaming of a slice of bacon or a spare rib. I can knock back a rice and bean burrito with the best of them these days, as long as there is plenty of guacamole.

I am very sympathetic to the humane treatment of livestock, driven home by visions of stockyards. But tonight I am sneaking out like a guilty teenager to indulge in my greatest carnivorous weakness.

I am going to my favorite Italian restaurant, where I very probably will order the scallopini vitello. You know, the schnitzel, the veau, the vacuno. Oh fine — the big-eyed, baby calf that’s not even weaned yet.

I know, I know and I’m already sorry. I do not approve of farmers who keep those sweet young bovines in tiny stalls and are so unkind to them.

If I had my way, I would only order veal that had happy, although short lives, being petted and loved by some cute 4-H member. I was delighted to hear New England farmers are now offering free-range veal — no pen involved.

I do agonize over it every time. I often opt for the spinach lasagna or the eggplant parmesan, but every now and then, I crumble. Tonight is looking like one of those nights, likely to produce delicious nirvana followed by capuccino and a helping of self-loathing.

In my defense, I will point out that I have denied myself a large portion of red meat of late. My summer diet has been an herbivore’s dream, with vegetable lasagna, salads galore, fruit, yogurt, pasta, cheese pizzas, eggplant sandwiches and pesto.

It’s all quite tasty, but I feel I have neglected my canine teeth, given to us specifically to tear apart meat. Hey, every body part deserves equal respect.

I will return to my well-behaved, planet-conscious self tomorrow. I also work hard to be a locavore, buying eggs laid by happy chickens in Lakeside. (A locavore is someone who buys food produced nearby. Less gas to transport, fresher, just a good thing.)

I am also grateful for soy in all its wonderful disguises. That’s one swell bean.

You have my solemn promise that my next dinner out, I will have nothing but the Caprese salad and the cheese ravioli. My social conscience only permits me the occasional fling.

Jean Gillette is a freelance writer now focusing on her cannoli dessert. Contact her at [email protected].