Friday, August 15, 2008

My relationship with meat

I was never a big meat-eater. I remember eating and enjoying hamburgers as a young teen, but I've almost always been happier with just the pasta, bread, or potatoes. The summer after my junior year of high school I worked with a woman who was a few years older and in college. She was a vegetarian, ate a lot of yogurt and granola, and carried a gigantic reusable water bottle with her everywhere she went. I was somewhat smitten. I wanted to be just like her (other than all that running, of course). At the end of the summer she went back to college, and I started my senior year of high school.

When I cautiously expressed my desire to go vegetarian, my step-mother immediately quashed the possibility. As long as I lived in her house, I would eat the meat I was served each night for dinner (meat, green vegetable, and starch were doled out each and every night come hell or high water). With no other course of action, I bided my time until I went away to college.

Shortly before Thanksgiving break I warned her over the phone that I was now an ovo-lacto vegetarian. In other words, no turkey for me please. She was horrified and unsure what I would eat for Thanksgiving dinner, never mind that the sides were always my favorite part. I told her that as long as there was an apple pie I would be fine.

And I was, but my approach to vegetarian eating was not a healthy one. People kidded me that I was a pastatarian or a starchatarian. I didn't eat a lot of vegetables and including protein wasn't a high priority for me. A couple years later I began craving tuna fish regularly, and around the same time I contracted a virus that I just couldn't shake. Clearly my body was trying to tell me that I needed to take better care of it. I began eating seafood occasionally (thus morphing into a pescetarian).

Eventually I went back to eating meat but, with only a few exceptions, never really enjoyed it. While with FF I ate more meat than ever before, as he is an extreme consumer of meat products. Often he would have a gigantic bloody steak for dinner with a side of chicken breast. Like many meat-eaters, he would never be able to kill and slaughter the animals he eats. I can't help but wonder how long it would take him (or other meat-eaters like him) to recover from seeing the inner workings of a slaughterhouse and to return to eating meat.

Now that I've been on my own for over a year, I've gradually returned to my pescetarian ways. I'd rather not support the meat industry or the negative impacts it has on the environment. I know there are problems with the fishing industry, but I don't believe it has to be all or nothing. I can do what I am comfortable doing right now, and that's good enough. I haven't eaten a hamburger in almost 15 years, nor have I wanted to. I would, however, have a hard time cutting tuna from my diet.

I'm sure I would've become a vegetarian at some point even without "A's" influence. We lost touch sometime after she completed the Appalachian Trail; now she's one of those old friends I hope to find on Facebook someday.

7 comments:

Electronic Goose said...

Interesting post. I'm glad you found some combination that works for you. I had a somewhat similar experience: never really liked meat, asked my mom if I could be a vegetarian in my teens ... I'm always amused at how defensive both omnivores and herbivores can be about their choices.

Smellyann said...

Bravo!

This is one of those posts that cements for me why we're friends. LOL

I also went vegetarian in college, in '95. Haven't eaten beef/pork or any other four-legged since. I went totally vegan and, like you, was horrible about mixing proteins and got extremely sick. I went back to eating chicken and certain sea creatures - only ones I've never studied up close. I keep debating whether to go back to full-on veggie, but I just haven't taken the leap yet.

AND, my main reason was for environmental reasons, namely the destruction of the rainforests to grow the livestock of which Americans are the primary consumers.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I was a vegetarian for many years and often wish I could return to it, but it's hard, being allergic to milk, beans, soy, nuts etc.

I was healthier and thinner when I was a vegetarian!

coffeypot said...

Thank God you quit eating meat. Now there is more for me. If I eat a vegatable plate or just a salad, I am hungry agian shortly afterward. I gots ta have it.

BerryBird said...

You are definitley right that who you eat with is a big influence on diet. I eat far more meat with SodaBoy than I ever do when we are apart. I was essentially a pescetarian all those years I worked out in the Lake States.

Nicole said...

My heart desperately wants to be vegetarian, but I can't convince my stomach.

Nadine said...

Pretty much the only thing I miss is deli style turkey for sandwiches. I love a good sandwich, and the choices for non-meat are usually pretty slim when out and about.