Reflections on being a vegetarian in Spain — Stone Pier Press

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I know how eating meat affects the climate. Animal agriculture is responsible for between 14.5 percent and 28 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, and some experts believe it’s even higher. Raising meat on an industrial scale is also water-intensive because of the need to water and grow the crops required to feed so many animals. And clearing land for grazing is a leading global driver of deforestation.

Here in Spain, I console myself with the fact that my uncle shops local. The meat we eat at home is raised within 20 miles of where we buy it. On Saturday mornings at 8 am he goes to the market down the street, grocery trolley in tow. Some mornings the rest of the family joins him, though not until later because we like to sleep in.

On these trips, we explore the village-like market, wandering among stalls, which are set up like miniature houses in a tiny town. We load the cart with meat, cheese, and piles of fruit and vegetables. I am a fanatic for saturn peaches, a stone-fruit variety I rarely find in the US, so we always get extra. We top it all off with fresh flowers from my aunt’s favorite florist.

So I don’t eat meat—except for now, when I am in Spain and staying with family. I am their long-term guest and they are feeding and housing me at no cost to myself. I don’t want to disrupt their lives any further by also requesting a complete change in their eating habits. 

But this summer is different.

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