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I gave up meat in college—not an unusual time to be experimenting with new values and trying new things. I was idealistic at the time, confident that my personal choices could nudge the world in a better direction. Becoming vegetarian seemed part of that effort, though The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Food Inc. were still decades in the future. Too, I wanted to break from my childhood. (Like KD Lang, I grew up in Alberta an enthusiastic carnivore.) I also fancied a woman who happened to be vegetarian—it didn’t last, but then I met a second and married her…
Abstain in haste, repent at leisure—I’ve lived with the repercussions of that diet decision now for 25 years. There have been awkward moments of hospitality rebuffed, but overall my vegetarian life has rolled out with surprising ease—in part thanks to Vancouver’s openness to quirks like mine. Too, the restaurant industry has broadened considerably. Fine dining in 1986 meant steamed veg and rice. Casual was cheese pizza by the slice. Today, the world is my oyster mushroom—the city has embraced sophisticated approaches to many diets once thought fringe; in fact, we’re overrun with locavore cafés, no-gluten bakeries, and, as I discover in “In Bloom” , a renaissance of beautiful fine-dining veggie restaurants.
I still have moments of ambivalence. If I could go back to my teenage self, would I intervene? Explain the losses of fellowship (and sensual pleasure) to come? For now, no. But I’ve been considering the question while working on this issue. Perhaps because uncertainty and resolution crop up in so many stories. In “One Man March” (page 29), Timothy Taylor revisits the spirited Iranian refugee we met two years ago in his “Blood Brothers” story to learn of his determined advocacy for peace. In our Q&A, architect Michael Green grapples with both the waste and the opportunities for change of his profession. And in a major feature, Frances Bula considers the future of the VAG. For the past few months, she’s talked to the various groups whose visions are laid out in “Kathleen Bartels Loves Her Job” and like my own food choices, there’s no clear resolution in sight to their conflicting drives of idealism, romance, rebellion, and stubbornness.