Thursday, May 28, 2009

My time as a vegetarian

I haven't felt much inspired to post recently. Spring/summer fever perhaps?

For the sake of getting a new post up, I thought I'd answer a request posed a couple months back in a comment.

What is the story behind my vegetarian years?

Well, when I was about 7 years old I made the solid connection that the chickens running around in Annie Frost's coop were the same thing as the chicken on my dinner plate, I pretty much was grossed out big time. I'm sure I knew that meat came from animals, but I'd never really thought about what that meant exactly.

It wasn't an animal rights issue. I wasn't worried about the poor beasts being slain for my consumption. It was the thought that I was eating the muscles of something that really got to me. *shudder* It still grosses me out a bit. That's why I still have an incredibly hard time eating meat off of bones.

I guess I couldn't be called a true vegetarian because I would eat meals with meat (like lasagna or something), but I'd pick the meat out. I never, ever expected my mom to make me something special. It just didn't work like that at my house. I'd also use chicken or beef broth to reconstitute my TVP meat substitute or eat regular soups but pick out the meat. I'd very occasionally eat thin meats like bacon or lunch meats. Those were easier to forget that they were animal flesh.

My family ate roast and potatoes (and lots of other stuff) every Sunday growing up. My little brother loved to torment me. "Ooooohhhh. Yuuuuum. This cow is de-li-cious!" and then he'd take a big bite of the roast. I think I was supposed to eat a bite of it because I remember often having one or two tiny shreds on my plate, but it wasn't strictly enforced or anything.

What did I eat?
In the way of protein, I ate lots and lots of cheese and beans, peanut butter, eggs, and meat substitutes (though this was more later high school and college). I liked pasta well enough, but it wasn't a main staple for me. I ate lots of salads or wraps with eggs and meat substitutes. Honestly, for lunches I often ate meal replacement things from whatever MLM my parents were in at the time. In Jr. High I had an Amway food bar every day for lunch. In high school I came home for lunch, so I often had quesadillas, burritos, or nachos always accompanied by salad made by my mom. In college I had Nutrition for Life SlenderAge shakes and bars for 1-2 meals a day for sake of ease and time. Now I drink Isagenix shakes maybe every other day for a lunch. The SlenderAge probably tasted the best, but I feel the best after Isagenix.

Why did I start eating meat again?
Well, I started dating Matt my freshman year of college. He asked why I didn't eat meat. When I said I didn't because I didn't like the texture or taste, he asked how long it'd been since I'd really eaten it. When I said about 10 years, he said I ought to try it again and if I didn't like it I could continue not eating it. Sure, that made enough sense. I didn't really try to eat it until he left on his mission and I left for China. I was in a situation where I couldn't be as choosy about my meals, so I'd try some meat here and there. It was fun to write Matt and tell him I'd tried different meats. I started very, very slowly with small amounts and worked my way up to eating a full chicken breast at a meal after a couple years. I still wouldn't touch or prepare meat when we were married three years after we met, though. I only started touching raw meat after I became the cook at a residential treatment center called New Haven in UT in 2004. I cooked for 25-35 people 5 days a week for 2 years. Couldn't avoid using meat in that situation. So, I've gotten pretty good at cooking and eating a variety of meats.

Do I like meat now?
It is nice to have more variety in my meals, but I did not grow to like the taste (or texture) of meat very much. I will eat most meats, though steak and other thick slabs or anything with bones still grosses me out and I avoid them. Ground beef and chicken are probably my most used meats since they're so versatile. I actually still hate the taste of all meats (except salty cured meats like ham and bacon) and won't eat them unless they're well seasoned or marinated and have no "meat flavor" left. I still only eat a very small slice of turkey on Thanksgiving. I don't like roasts unless they're crockpot cooked and shredded. I've tried to work fish into my diet as well, mainly for variety (neither of us like seafood much). The only fishes I will actually use regularly are halibut and tilapia since they're so mild.

If I'd married a vegetarian I am positive I'd have continued with it with no problems or regrets. We still eat "meatless" dinners a couple times a week. I'm very lucky that Matt's not one who needs meat every night. The last couple months I've not really wanted meat, but I force myself to use it occasionally for Matt's sake and so I don't become anemic while pregnant.

That's the long answer. Good job if you actually read the whole thing! Questions? Comments? Concerns? ;oD


Sam & Jessica said...

Thanks for the full details. I think because Argentina prides itself on its beef and its eaten so prevalently there my mission turned me into a big meat eater and I also blame my meat cravings on being borderline anemic. I am on the opposite end of the meat spectrum from you though and crave meat more when I'm pregnant, interestingly the meat I crave each pregnancy is the more expensive cuts and types, etc. :)

MDawg said...

My sentiments about meat are the same as yours. I start out eating a chicken fajita, but I end up taking out the chicken because I just can't choke down any more. My daughter loves meat and will always ask what kind of animal it is. That definitely ends the meal for me! Anyway, I learned a term that describes my lifestyle.

FoxyJ said...

We went mostly meatless about a year ago, but hesitate to identify ourselves as 'vegetarian' because it seems so absolute. I don't cook meat at home, but we eat out at places like McDonalds or In-N-Out every now and then. And if we're eating with other people we'll eat the meat. I guess I'm the opposite also--I don't mind the taste and texture of meat or the fact that it comes from animals. We're just concerned about the environmental effects of factory farms and the health costs of excessive meat consumption. Plus I've found that my kids prefer things like beans, cheese, and eggs. I guess I'm a 'flexitarian' too :)

Anonymous said...

The only time meat bothers me is when I am pregnant or actually think about having to slaughter the animal myself. With my 2nd pregnancy, I couldn't even eat lunchmeats. I was grossed out with anything that resembled meat. Now that my 2nd is older, he eats more meat than any of my other kids. I wonder if my lack of eating it has anything to do with his infatuation with meat.

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

Jess, for that reason alone I am glad I didn't go to Argentina! I remember you sending stories and pics about how much meat they ate and it totally grossed me out! haha.

MDawg, I never knew you were semi-vegetarian. I can totally relate to your fajita example. I like the term flexitarian.

FoxyJ, I also think that it is more convenient to not be STRICTLY vegetarian. Just so much easier when you're out or at other people's houses. You don't have to worry about reading labels, or offending others, or being a burden by needing something special. Plus, the WoW says you can eat meat sparingly and scriptures say not to command others to refrain from eating meat.

Erin S. said...

Thanks for the Flexitarian definition! By default (due to the husband being vegetarian) I'd say I'm definitely a flexitarian! Although over the course of a few years there are certain types of meat that I don't really like anymore.

Him, Her & The Wee One said...

I thought this was quite interesting. I made fun of Angela when she decreased her meat intake significantly and then we stopped eating meat for the most part when we were poor. Now that I'm eating it again, I've realized I don't really like beef, especially ground. Anyway, we only eat meat a few times a week and I like that much better.

Lady Steed said...

"I'm very lucky that Matt's not one who needs meat every night."

This made me laugh. Matt was not always this way. When I was a teenager Matt needed meat. Plus, he would make fun of my many vegetarian friends and me, if for some reason I didn't feel like eating meat at dinner. He must really like you!

*word verification: lyings* (no, really I'm not!!)

Anonymous said...

I've often thought about going vegetarian but just don't have the willpower. I just love fajitas, roast, and hamburgers too much! But first pregnancy, I repulsed by red meat....couldn't stomach it. Our oldest still to this day does not eat a lot of red meat.

Celia Marie (W.) B. said...

LS, Matt said he'd still make fun of hardcore vegetarians. He thinks it's a little ridiculous. He doesn't have anything against flexitarians. He said my vegetarianism was a big strike against me in the beginning. Then I started trying meat, and that was good enough for him.

Anon: Since I'm not (nor was I ever) an animal rights vegetarian, I have a hard time understanding why people would go vegetarian if they enjoy meat. Money reasons, I understand. Don't like the taste, I understand. But I do think that there is a food chain and some animals are here for us to eat(but like everything should be eaten in moderation).