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How I Gave Up Being a Vegetarian After 19 Years

I should start by letting you know that I became a vegetarian when I was 11. My reasoning was that meat didn’t really taste that good, and I didn’t want to have to eat it. I had to be extreme because in my house, we ate what we were served, three bite rule was always in effect, and there was no other option. Becoming a vegetarian was my permanent excuse to avoid those chewy steaks and that dry curry chicken dish I hated so much. Seriously. That was it.

Just so you get the whole picture. At the time of my meat rejection, I also didn’t really like many veggies, nor did I eat any seafood other then shrimp. I thought I could survive on cereal, pb & j’s, and pasta. And I was mostly right.

My diet didn’t really improve too much from there until after college, except that I added most kinds of seafood to my repertoire. Then, Mom and I started living together, and we got on a mission to eat better. I’m not exactly sure what lit the bug under our ass about it initially, but I know that Doc Holly (mom’s acupuncturist) kept it burning hot, at least while we were still in Florida. I thought eating your veggies meant having a salad. Not so much said the Doc. Now I was suppose to eat beets, sweet potatoes, and cooked greens galore. Cooked veggies at every meal, including breakfast. And no, potatoes don’t count. If she’d really had it her way, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, and no soy, either. We never got to be that hardcore though. Instead, we committed to upping the ante on the veggies, I learned to cook real meals, we indeed learned to eat veggies for breakfast, and we did our best on the rest. I’d call that the beginning of us paying attention to what we ate in a way other then just I-should-eat-healthier-to-lose-weight kind of way. But still, no meat for me.

Eventually Mom went to see another Chinese Medicine practitioner for a second opinion on some things at the suggestion of Doc Holly, and this other woman actually recommended that mom start eating some red meat to help balance her system. She did emphasize not to bother with anything that wasn’t grass fed, grass finished. In Florida we weren’t able to source this locally for some reason, so the cost was uber prohibitive. I believe we paid $11/lb for grass finished organic ground beef from New Zealand at the local health food store. She was scared to try it, but to her great surprise, she said it tasted good, like her body was missing it and happy to be eating it again.

When we moved to Floyd, there were good local meat options abound. Within 50 miles we could source quality pork, lamb, buffalo, beef, chicken, duck and rabbit. Naturally, Mom broadened her horizons, trying pork, chicken and buffalo. Since then, she has never really looked back.

The truth is, I’ve been dabbling at eating meat for over a year. I had a bite or two of Thanksgiving turkey, it was ok.

Then we had to kill the extra roosters from the batch of eggs we incubated. Thanks to some farmer friends of ours in Floyd, we actually learned how to harvest them and put them in our freezer. Homesteader style. (The year before we gave away our extra roosters because we weren’t ready for such endeavors). It was at this point that I really started to think about why I wasn’t eating meat anymore. Raising chickens and killing them, but then not eating them, seemed terribly terribly wrong. Wrong in the same way our goats were all killed but not eaten. Death should not be wasted.

My excuse about bad cooking was no longer viable. We cook gourmet amazingness around here 99 meals out of a 100. (Although, it did take us a few tries to cook good pastured chicken. The rules are different for these birds over the grocery store ones.)

None the less, I was still barely on the meat bandwagon. My next real decision making moment was when Hank killed a rabbit that was eating all the beets in the garden. It was his first hunting experience. I was extremely thankful. He was proud and upset all at once. The gravity of the death was not lost on us. But we also recognized how it fit into the cycle of things. In this case, eating it was the only right thing to do. Hank figured out how to clean it, then figured out how to cook it. I was so afraid of it that I actually made an entire other meal as a “side dish” just in case. Turns out it was delicious. Like, ridiculously so.

That was the real beginning of the end. After the rabbit, I still wasn’t excited about meat, but I ate small quantities every time we cooked it.

The ultimate death to my vegetarian identity was our decision to do a Whole30, which is essentially a stricter version of the Paleo diet. Our reasons for trying this are multifaceted, but go something like this:

  1.  Hank, Mom and I all share an underlying belief that food can be our medicine.
  2. All three of us have different issues that bother us, that we ultimately believe are caused by (or at least not cured by) the way we were eating, despite its goodness.
  3. Mom went in for her regular I-don’t-have-a-thyroid-anymore checkup and the doc kindly suggested that she try to stop eating bread 2-3 days a week to see if that helped her lose weight.
  4. We knew we had a bread problem, but couldn’t find a good enough reason to give it up before this.
  5. In addition to all the science stuff about this way of eating that made sense to us, it also makes a lot of sense to us from a local food standpoint, which is near and dear to us. In fact, its actually easier to source more of our food locally now then it was before.

Long story short. The day after my birthday, September 19, I started eating meat 2-3 meals a day. It took me about 2 weeks to really start to like it. And now, I’m LOVING it! I never knew what a world of good tasting food I was completely missing out on because of some bad childhood memories.

The challenge now is learning how to cook all over again. I was a master of vegetarian cooking. I could make something tasty out of anything without a recipe, all of the time. Now I have to meal plan and follow recipes ALL OF THE TIME. But I’m learning and Mom and Hank are bearing with me while I get the hang of it.

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About mudly

Mud is main blog writer extraordinaire, picture guru, and the garden and adventure instigator. She loves to cook, but doesn’t much like following a recipe. She also loves typewriters, the color turquoise, and wearing tie dye with stripes. And she dorks out on permies.com while dreaming up and planning her next garden.

One comment on “How I Gave Up Being a Vegetarian After 19 Years

  1. Gnarly Farms
    January 3, 2014

    The Flavor Bible is invaluable to me as someone who isn’t very great at pairing flavors like Nate is. I’m glad you’ve joined the world of the barbarians in meat eating. Also I’m sad for you about your goats. We had crowd-sourced a goat named Wendy and she was kept at a friends house and ended up hanging herself. We hadn’t decided if she would be a meat goat or a milk goat, but that decided it and it was super hard for Nate to process her (they found her very shortly after she died so we decided to use the meat), but it was a reminder to us about the seriousness of being meat eaters.

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This entry was posted on November 6, 2013 by in Cooking.

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