A post (about me) that I didn’t think I’d be writing quite so soon…

I’m cheating by putting up a picture of my perfect Daisy MeiMei.

Just to get all your guesses out of the way, I’m not pregnant nor getting divorced nor moving back to the UK (nor anywhere else for that matter).  THE DOGS ARE BOTH FINE. I’m not changing jobs and I haven’t gotten published.  What I am about to tell you is a big deal, and the fact that I’m doing it via The Lettuce should indicate my level of cowardice at the thought of disappointing some of my good friends, but I suppose it is what it is.

I am no longer pescetarian (eating no meat save fish).  I have reintroduced meat into my diet for several reasons, and I wanted to share those as well as what has happened since this change occurred. Part of the reason I haven’t said much about this has been I was not sure that it could be done…but I seem none the worse for wear, so I thought that it was time to come clean.  I was never what I refer to as an ethical vegetarian/pescetarian.  What I mean by that is that I did not stop eating all meat save fish because of my beliefs about animal rights.  While I do believe that there are huge changes needed in the humane way animals are treated, that did not make the decision for me and did not keep me on this path for almost three years.

I stopped eating meat save fish in June of 2011 because it made me feel bad when I ate it.  That is the long and short of it.  I had been telling myself in posts such as this one that I was not going to eat meat anymore out of some reverence for nature…and I think that was partially true, but something else was going on.  I talked to a friend of mine, Joanne, who had been vegetarian in the past but had gone back to eating meat.  I asked her why she made that decision and she said it was very simple:  “My body wanted meat.”

My body made a similar decision about two months ago, so I started upping the amount of meat substitutes that I ate in an attempt to ward off that feeling.  After all, this was the right thing I was doing, wasn’t it? The noble and earth conscious thing?  Maybe.  But that didn’t help how I felt.  I tried to expand my horizons as far as vegetarian cooking went.  I added more fish to our diet.  But still it was there, the feeling that something wasn’t right.

A month ago I made a decision after talking about it with Hubs that I would try eating meat and see what happened.  If it made me sick at worst or left me no better off than I was at best, we would investigate what else could be going on with me.  So I tried it…and nothing happened…nothing bad anyway.  Unlike “real” vegetarians which I think now I will never be, if I’m honest, I had been consuming muscle protein the whole time because I continued to eat fish.  So my body had no trouble with the meat I tried.

Now what am I?  What label do I apply to myself and my diet?  The real truth is that I am me, no more, no less.  There are groups…clubs almost, that you belong to when you’re trying to live a more vegetarian life. I never fit in any of them.  Maybe if I had been more sensible about how I ate 20 years ago when I tried this the first time I might still be eating a meat free diet.  But maybe not.  Maybe I’m learning that I am selfish, and what I like to eat and what seems to make me feel the best is my primary concern…instead of the state of the world and animals and farming and all that. I don’t feel like a bad person for making my choice…but one has to wonder why I haven’t said much about it up until now if there is nothing to feel guilty about in my decision.

I believe that the reason for my silence has been simple:  I have some very good friends that have been very helpful to me as I navigated my own pescetarian path, and one of my greatest character flaws is that worry far too much about disappointing others while dishing out almost pathological neglect on myself.  I don’t want them to be disappointed in me when they read this…though I’m sure they know me well enough to have been just waiting for this day to come.  I will never be a “real” vegetarian.  But I’m doing what I feel is best for me, and that’s all I can do.

Well, there’s always fish…

Fruit and Veg box
Originally uploaded by Nancy Dunne

So I decided to try again something that I tried when I was younger and less prepared. One summer when I was working at Camp, I decided to become a vegetarian. I don’t know why I did it, but if I look back on other things I did at the same time I would guess it was because it would help me lose weight. It was an experiment at best, that left me eating loads and loads of salad greens and McDonald’s french fries (on Friday nights, when we’d go into town from camp after the kids left). The end of that experiment was an unplanned trip to the infirmary at Camp after I nearly fainted from a combination of poor nutrition and living in the Georgia heat with no A/C.

Since that failed attempt I’ve looked with envy at those able to live a vegetarian lifestyle. I don’t believe that I will ever make it to a purely vegetarian lifestyle and I am pretty sure that I am not meant to be vegan. However, I do know that when I don’t eat meat I feel better, physically. So what pushed me over the edge this time?

For awhile, I have been fighting the feeling that there was something not right in the way that the animals that I’ve been consuming for most of my life are raised, treated, and processed into the food on my table. Something not right in my opinion, mind you. I would never EVER try to make someone else believe the way I do. If eating meat is okay with you, then that’s great, I’m happy for you. It just isn’t okay for me anymore.

To throw a slightly hypocritical spanner in the works, I’m not planning to give up fish at this point. I know that there are loads of awful things that happen to fish, and that’s why I’m admitting it is hypocritical…I can’t quite bring myself to give up sushi. I know there are veg options in sushi but I’ve only just discovered the heaven that is yellowtail tuna. Mercy.

Anyway, back to the hypothetical straw and camel: I’ve had the misfortune of riding behind some chicken trucks in my life, and every time it almost reduces me to tears. I saw an awful segment on the local news the other night where a farmer was talking about how you could buy a whole cow from him, you and your buddies, and they’d process the cow…as they were standing in the field with said cows milling around behind them! “You’ll get good steaks and two sets of ribs…” It was horrifying to me. But the last straw was the wild turkey and babies that walked across the back yard up here on Allen Mountain the other day. I watched Mama Turkey checking the bushes before she let her babies follow her into the brush. The argument that turkeys (or chickens or cows) are dumb and that’s why it’s okay to eat them doesn’t matter to me. It’s a non-argument. Why do we eat some animals and not others? It was then and there that I decided I had to make a change.

I don’t and won’t begrudge my dog or my cat eating meat. Dogs can’t live as vegetarians without a lot of extra work and care. Cats are carnivores. The way I’m looking at this is that my opposition to eating meat is because I have such a strong reverence for nature. I hope that everyone can support me in this decision, and that this time I can make some healthy choices as far as my food goes.