Monday, August 21, 2006

Meat or no Meat

I was a vegetarian for 5 or 6 years during college and immediately after. I was an "ovo-lacto vegetarian," in that I ate eggs and dairy. I was never a very good vegetarian, more like a pastatarian or starchatarian. I didn't eat enough fruits or vegetables, nor did I worry too much about getting my protein. I got sick a lot, colds and viruses. When I started having wild cravings for tuna fish, I eventually gave in and started eating sea food again. With the addition of tuna into my diet, my health did improve.

I was a vegetarian for environmental reasons, but also because I simply never really cared for meat all that much. I became interested in vegetarianism the summer after 11th grade through a co-worker at the day camp I was working at, but my step-mother refused to indulge my whim. When I came home for Thanksgiving freshman year of college, the dynamics had shifted and I was able to avoid the turkey dinner. Her concerns about whether I would have enough to eat were unfounded, of course. Turkey was always a side dish, in my mind.

When I started eating meat again, it was never in large amounts or all that frequently. Left to my own devices, I would still chose tofu in my Thai food or a marinara sauce on my pasta. My fiance, on the other hand, is as meat and potatoes as they come. He will literally have for dinner steak with a side of chicken. I kid you not. In an attempt to share our meals more thoroughly, I began eating some of the pork or chicken he was having (I drew the line at steak, hamburger, or sloppy joes).

The other evening I realized that I was only eating these dinners because that was our routine. I don't enjoy them and I'm always wishing to not have the meat on my plate. So now, for the first time in many years, I am wondering if it's time to reconsider my current state of vegetarianism. I get tired of explaining that "No, I just don't like steak (or prime rib or hotdogs)." It certainly would be easier just to say, "Yup, I'm a vegetarian."


BerryBird said...

Sounds like it's something to consider again indeed. But do you think you are better prepared this time around to eat nutritiously? Because until then, I would advise against it. More colds and viruses do not sound fun to me.

I think about this issue often, in a half assed manner that resolves little. Part of why I get so bogged down is definitions, all the different ways of being vegetarian. Personally I wouldn't want to give up seafood, I just like it too much. But I do try to make my choices using the Montery Bay Aquarium Seafood Guide, i.e. no cod, no sea bass, no Atlantic salmon.

Also, I don't know if I want to box myself into feeling guilty for enjoying something like a Dinosaur Barbeque pulled pork sandwich, or a good piece of tenderloin with bernaise sauce once every blue moon. Because I do like these things. What I need to do is find local, organic, free range sources for meats so I can enjoy them occasionally.

I should confess that I've eaten more meat since moving into this house than I have in a long time. Erwin loves grilling, and Pacific salmon and Pacific halibut are $15-$25/pound, when available. Not in my budget for every day consumption. But I agree with you in that when eating out anyway, I am never drawn to the beef, chicken, or pork. It's the seafood I love, baby.

a/k/a Nadine said...

Ah yes, seafood.

I would never go back to being what some people consider a "real" vegetarian because I love seafood as well. Much like cheese, I won't be cutting that from my diet ever!

And the issue of boxing oneself in is definitely something to be considered. Where does that leave me? No read meat, no birds? LOL

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

What if you just eat want you want and avoid what you don't want while making an effort to choose at least a few healthy foods? (Like fruits and vegetables). DO you have to make a label? I do agree it makes it easier in some ways.

I remember, when you were 8 years old, you declared you would never eat pork again because you had just read Charlotte's Web and didn't want to eat Wilbur or any of his friends or relatives. I always attributed your dislike of meat and latent vegetarianism to that and to your getting sick with an unrelated illness that made you vomitose on Thankgiving so that the smell of turkey made you forever unhappy with turkey.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I was a vegetarian for many years for two reasons: 1)health, because I thought it was genuinely healthier, and 2)environemntalism: I believe eating low on the food chain helps keep the environemntal healthy and uses less resources, especially if you eat organic.

My allergies to tofu, beans and dairy have interrupted my interest in vegetarianism and may be a result of many years as a vegetarian.