Meat is back.
At least for me it might be. With a scarlet letter "C" looming over me and with the help of responsible farmers like the Fleishers I just might have a go at it.
Sounds easy right? Not so much. I've been a strict vegetarian for, oh I'd say almost half of my life. For those of you who don't know me, that's about 16 years. Those of you who do know me - see I am old. ::wink:: Too often a lifestyle choice of vegetarianism brings forth a negative air from the carnivores. It's understandable for sure. I have often experienced the shock style spite-spew of some very righteous vegetarians myself. It's why I don't back Peta. It's all in the approach and I hate their woo.
I've been asked my views and reasons on being a vegetarian many times. Sometimes people have been rude about it but more often I think most people are just curious. There's a whole slew of reasons why one chooses to eat the way they do. For me it's a lot of things that collectively got me to where I am.
I grew up a Meat-n-Potatoes Kid. My grandmother Ruth was a dominant icon in our household. There were to be meals of meat, potatoes and of course, a side of vegetables (corn or green beans) when possible. Accompanying this was spongy white bread with loads of real butter. Our salads, if they showed up at all, were iceberg. The crisp, watery green was adorned with a pre-shred of cheddar, drizzled with Russian dressing and spotted with croutons. The recurring meats were roast beef, meatloaf and chicken dumplings. I loved those dinners. Usually I was just happy because it meant there were mashed potatoes with gravy. I swear to all things holy, if my grandmother were still alive and cooked any of those items for me, I would gorge myself on them without a second thought.
My mom Doreen was a vegetarian. Always questioned voraciously by my grandmother about her quirky choice, she held fast and continued to compile colourful meals for herself. Never one to push her views on someone, she always answered with a vague response. As a child consumed with colour, I gradually was more attracted to the hues of my mother's meals and started eating more of them.
I am very inquisitive. I always need to know how or why or what. I needed to know why my mom didn't eat meat. So I read everything I could find on the subject. Knowledge can change your life. I would definitely encourage learning about the practices of the meat industry. I don't see it as a reason to deny meat, but rather to choose selectively when purchasing.
I was about 16 when I stopped eating meat. Reading dozens of books on it I found myself disturbed by the barbaric practices. It repulsed me. I lived on pasta dishes, rice a roni and a few vegetables. In college the atmosphere lent itself well to the practice. Vegetarianism was a good way to define myself. It was in college that I started to experiment with cooking with whole foods for the first time, but with a limited budget I fell back on standards and fast food. Oh yes, a # 2 - cheeseburgers without the meat. ::chortle:: no seriously. It was a trick I had learned from a fellow Veg. Little did I know at the time, my fries were animal lard dunked.
After college I found myself a job at a large ad agency downtown. I moved out on my own and started experimenting with better ingredients. I shopped at the farmers market weekly and compiled fantastic veggie meals.
Which brings me to today. I cook every day. It truly is a release, a meditation if you will. My week is planned out by what I want to cook. It's not that I'm obsessed with food, it's more that I just love a satisfying moan from someone who just tasted my food. Selfish right?
This past summer I found out I was sensitive to wheat. It has changed the way I feel about the food I consume. What I can eat safely has changed so dramatically. This summer I picked up the book Heat, by Bill Buford. It really changed the way I felt about meat. After that it was Shauna James Ahern's book, Gluten Free Girl which ran parallel with my own experiences. When I cut the wheat out of my diet, I started feeling better. I was having less headaches and feeling less anxious. More recently I caught a show about Fleisher's on PBS. "You can see inside the animal how they were treated." What a true statement. Raising an animal on their natural diet is better for them, the environment and us. After watching this I really felt that it sums up how I feel about meat. I've never been anti-meat. I just think we owe it to be conscious of what we put into our bodies and the way it gets there. Check it out, and let me know what you think about it.
I'm still on the fence about a complete return to meat, but I'm curious.