Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Extinct Carnivore

This is how the conversation always goes:

ME: I'm not eating meat anymore.
SOMEONE I'M TALKNG TO: What?  Why the hell would you do that?
ME: Because... (then I list off a bunch of reasons that are vague enough to prevent too much conversation on this topic; I don't really want to talk about why because I am not entirely sure).
SOMEONE: Well whatever, good luck with that.

Three days later:

JUSTIN: So, you're not eating meat?
ME: Nope.
JUSTIN: Okay, that's what I thought so I made you some chicken.

First, chicken IS meat.  Second, I cave and eat the chicken. 

In the past, I have tried this "not eating meat" thing various times.  I usually make it four days at the most before I give up.  I have given up for a variety of reasons: it's difficult to find vegetarian options in a lot of places, it makes it challenging when other people (who do eat meat) cook dinner; meat is a good source of iron and protein, which I need as a runner.  Mostly I gave up because I like the taste of meat.

Or at least, I did.

This year, finally, I have managed to stop eating meat for long enough that I no longer want it.  In all those diet articles they always tell you: if you can go two weeks without something, you won't crave it anymore.  Of course, what they don't tell you is that those two weeks are really freaking hard to get through!  As soon as you give something up, that is all that anyone around you is eating, and their food always looks better than yours.  It is also THE thing that your body starts screaming at you about.  Okay, maybe I should be speaking in the first person here--I don't know about other people, but that is how it has always been for me.  And so I have always caved under the pretext of "listening to my body, because it knows what it needs."  Yeah, right, just like it "needs" tater tots and cheese sticks and beer.  What is warning from Portal that they made into a slightly humorous Woot Shirt?  "The cake is a liar."  So is my body.

Finally, though, I have made it through nearly three weeks without any form of meat other than fish.  Yes, I do still eat fish, which is why I hesitate to call myself "vegetarian."  But I don't feel bad about it because, as I said before, I need the iron and protein and I really like tuna melts.  The amazing thing is that I really don't miss eating meat.  When my husband gets a burger, I don't look at it and think "I have to have that right now, even if it means clawing his eyes out to get to it."  And when people invite us over for dinner, I have no trouble saying "Just so you know, I don't eat meat anymore."  Yes, that is annoying.  But, I don't mind bringing something for myself: have box of mac-n-cheese, will travel.

Obviously, this change has brought with a whole slew of dietary obstacles.  I have to be careful to get enough protein and iron from non-meat sources, which is not always easy or tasty.  I also have to be especially vigilant about not just replacing meat with cheese, because that sort of undoes any health benefits that my no-meat diet might afford me.  But these are "good" challenges.  They make me think more about what I am putting in my body when I make food choices.  Without getting too soap-boxy (I like to save that for face-to-face conversations), I think an essential part of any meal should be thinking about where your food came from and why it--of all the things you could have had--ended up on your plate; and when you answer these questions, you should feel good about your choices.  I didn't feel good when I looked down and saw meat on my plate, and so I stopped putting it there.

So, after a few weeks of battling the little voice inside me screaming "Get a cheeseburger, STAT!" I have finally been able to move on and become a non-meat eater.  Am I saying that I will never again eat a piece of meat?  No, of course not.  But, I am saying that I don't want to eat meat anymore, and that I am happy that I don't.

And the next time Justin asks me if he should make me chicken "instead" of meat, I will be sure to say "No thanks, I'll just bring a PB&J." 

1 comment:

  1. How about turkey at Friends' Thanksgiving? I admire you, my love!


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