Sunday, May 31, 2009
I Ate Meat Last Night
I ate chicken last night after 11 1/2 years of being a vegetarian. I am still trying to wrap my head around my choice. Allow me to give a little background on my choices. When I was in my second year of college I worked 3 jobs. I worked in the food court at Target, a cafe inside of a printing press and as an art model. We will concentrate on the first two jobs. My shift at Target was from 4pm to 9:30pm. I went home, changed and was off to my next job at the cafe inside the factory from 11pm to 7am. Stated simply, I worked a lot of hours in a row in front of a flat grill making burgers and fries. If you have not had the honor of working a flat grill, the secret to knowing when to flip the burger is when the blood rises to the top. Fifteen hours of blood rising to the top. I was done. Add to this growing up on a farm where we raised our own meat which meant I had never bought store beef until I was in college. The first time I actually noticed the ground beef section in the grocery store I was alarmed at the color and texture of the meat. I waved a butcher over, concerned that the meat had gone bad! I also had the amazing experience of a summer exchange to Finland where I stayed at a small dairy. The dairy had 30 head of cattle compared to 300 head at a small dairy in the area I was raised. The cattle in Finland freely grazed, and were known by name. So I had seen a better ways to raise livestock. Anyway, one night while working the night shift I stopped eating meat. I did not eat meat for 11 years after that night. I did consume eggs and dairy, but I did not use other animal bi-products (which has always made it a challenge to buy shoes). At first I craved tuna fish and Taco Bell soft tacos, but that quickly passed. I was not smart about food choices. I was not comfortable in a kitchen. I was, what I coined, a 'lazy vegetarian' for 11 years. Even when I became much better about food choices and preparation my diet was loaded with carbs. I ate pasta, cheese, fruit and sprinkled in vegetables and protein. How can that be? I was a lazy vegetarian. My food choices had led to weight gain and poor digestion. One evening, not to long ago, my DH told me that he was going on the South Beach Diet. He had read about it on the Internet and had printed out information for me to read. I dismissed it. The South Beach Diet eliminated carbs for two weeks and then slowly brings the good carbs back, in hopes that the cravings for bad carbs will be diminished. For a week he did not consume any carbs as I watched in amazement. My carb consumption was so high that I was becoming at risk for diabetes. I decided to give it a try. Bewildered by what I would eat, my DH planned the menu for the week right done to the snacks. He even went shopping for it. The first couple of days were an adjustment. By the end of week one I was not missing my pasta. Week two brought a new twist, a strong craving for meat. Skinless, baked, all white meat chicken breast to be exact. I had not had a craving for meat since that very first week 11 years ago. I had a choice to make. I needed to make a healthy and realistic choice for me. Many vegetarians have a healthy and balanced diet, but I did not. The craving for meat was strong. The past 11 years of being a vegetarian were also strong. But in the end I ate chicken last night and tonight I ate fish. So I am now a semi-vegetarian. It is a term that I thought was a bit silly for 11 years, like suddenly you can eat meat when you want to but other times your a vegetarian. Part of me is OK with my choice and has already moved on as if the vegetarian years meant nothing. The other part of me questions the morals in my choice to include white meat in my diet. What does that say about my character to just stop doing something that I had committed to for so many years? I am redefined as a person, no longer 'the vegetarian'. I do feel good about eating a more balanced diet, only having to cook one meal for the family and will gain confidence when cooking meat. But last night I ate chicken.