I have been a vegetarian for almost 3 years now. 3 years of no bacon, no ham, no chicken. 3 years of reading labels and watching for things like gelatin, beef flavoring, or chicken fat (it’s in more products than you’d think). I loved being a vegetarian. I loved knowing that I wasn’t hurting animals anymore. I loved eating vegetables and not worrying about getting a big hunk of gristle in my next bite (nothing makes me gag like gristle). But here I am about to tell you the story of how I am no longer a vegetarian. (Please don’t hate me!)
My entire life I remember not liking meat. I hated it actually. I came from a meat and potatoes every night family and you had to eat everything on your plate. I remember proclaiming as I marched up the stairs (after spending the entire evening staring at the meat on my plate and not being allowed to leave the table) that I would be a vegetarian when I grew up. Luckily, during that time, I did have one ally. My vegetable hating sister. She would be stuck at the table looking at her peas and carrots, and thus our reliance on each other was born. All we needed was a moment when mom wasn’t looking and voila! We were both magically done our dinner. My sister used to say she was a carnivore and I was a herbivore. Strangely enough she went on to be a raw food vegan for a while in her adult life…..one never knows.
I went through a brief stint in high school of trying to be vegetarian and I cooked for myself. But I didn’t fully commit to it. I got married and cooked meat for dinner every night. I was programmed that dinner = meat. And then one day something strange happened. I barfed my guts out after eating a pork chop. Maybe it was just under cooked? Ya know, after being in the crock pot for 7 hours? But the same thing happened with beef. Or if I didn’t barf I was in such pain that I would just lay in the fetal position trying not to die. Chicken didn’t seem to make me feel too terrible, but I would get a slight pain after eating it. Finally I decided to try something. I skipped eating the meat at dinner and felt fine. I can to conclusion that I was allergic to meat. Or something in the meat. Either way meat made me physically sick.
It was such a weird transition. I was so used to having some sort of meat, and now there I was, making two separate dinners. One for Hubby, and one for me. I didn’t know what to cook for myself, so a lot of my dinners consisted of a baked potato and some steamed frozen veggies. I started buying a lot of soy products to try and make up for the empty space on my dinner plate. And then I learned about GMOs and the health problems soy can cause so I stopped that. I learned how to make meat balls from pecans and “fake” meatloaf from walnuts (which is amazing by the way!). I barbecued portabello mushrooms for burgers, discovered a love for dried beans, and ate a bit of seafood to round out my week (the one meat source that didn’t make me sick).
And then something strange began to happen. I actually enjoyed it. I felt so much better. Lighter and I had more energy. I didn’t feel so bloated and groggy after dinner. I felt healthy. I lived that way for about 2 and half years, never feeling like I was missing out on anything.
Around Christmas time last year I began to notice that I was eyeing up meat in a new way. It was calling out to me. I wrestled with it for awhile, then decided that if that was what I wanted I would try it. So I tried having small little portions with dinner again. The stomach aches didn’t return. But I didn’t like eating it. The texture felt funny in my mouth and all I could think of were the videos and documentaries of how terrible the animals were treated. So I decided that I needed to make a decision right then. I chose vegetarian. And carried on for several more months, never allowing myself to admit how badly I could go for some bacon. During that time however, certain brands of beer started putting little samples of beef jerky in their beer cases. Hubby hates beef jerky so he just threw the packets in a drawer in the kitchen with every intention of giving them to the dogs as treats. The dogs never got a bite. I used to love beef jerky and the thought of it sitting in there was too much to bear. One by one they started to disappear. But I was still in denial.
Until Easter weekend. My brother, sister, and I went to our Dad’s place for his birthday. It was an awesome weekend. We left our significant others at home and spent a weekend like we used to when we were kids. We played Sorry, and hide and seek, and the old video games we used to love. For dinner Dad treated us all to Swiss Chalet, a fantastic rotisserie chicken place. I ordered a fish and chips even though the smell of chicken was killing me. The food arrived, and though I wasn’t supposed to, I practically drank the dipping sauce (it has chicken fat in it). My sister was sitting beside me (remember the carnivore turned raw vegan?) and she had ordered the chicken. She talked briefly about how she loved eating raw food, and did so for a good part of the day, but she wasn’t tied down by the label anymore. She was going to eat what she wanted. That sounded so liberating.
A couple days later I sent out this text to the family:
So I figured it best to just let this out, lest you be surprised at our next meal together, but I’m eating meat now. I haven’t been sick or gotten any stomach aches since consuming the flesh of innocent animals. The whole reason I stopped was because I was in horrible pain or vomiting after eating meat. I guess after 3 years of being a vegetarian my body has healed. Around Christmas time I was starting to crave it again, but I decided I like being a vegetarian and held on for a bit longer. Until they started putting beef jerky in Keystone beer cases. Hubby hates beef jerky, but I used to love it. Needless to say there are no packs of beef jerky in this house. I devoured them. I still love the stuff.
I still want to eat meat that has been humanly raised or that I have raised myself – whenever possible. But if we go out to eat or I’m at your house for dinner I will eat the meat. Right now I seem to be going through a carnivore like stage. No meat is sacred! Especially bacon. Sweet goodness!
Swiss Chalet at Dad’s was the deciding factor. I wanted so badly to snatch the chicken off of my sister’s plate. You have no idea! She stabbed it with her fork and a little juice dripped out. I was dying. I dragged Hubby to Swiss Chalet shortly after and gobbled up my quarter chicken dinner like a model on leave. (Yes I know the meat there is the farthest from humane.)
So that is all. I still eat mainly vegetarian, but I put bacon on everything. And fry everything in bacon fat. Or I just lick out the pan after frying the bacon. Don’t judge. I still don’t eat hamburger or sausages. That just isn’t meat.
So there is. (Although the bacon on everything faze is over. Believe it or not you can eat too much!)
I don’t have a label. Labels just tie us all down too much. I eat real food, but I eat what I want. I try very hard to eat humanely raised, and Hubby and I already have plans to buy some local meat from other farmers in the area, and to raise what we can on our own land. I’m not paleo (I had to even google what that was) because hello! Chocolate, wine and cheese! I’m not vegetarian because I’ve eaten about 6 steaks in the past 3 weeks. I’m just a girl who loves to eat.
And I think there are worse things in the world than that.