I am chronicling the switch.
I’ve slowly been easing myself into it. My interest was first seriously piqued on the night of Obama’s election in 2008. A friend of a friend (who now works for PETA) started sharing with me why he was a vegetarian and urged me to consider it for health and spiritual reasons. I sort of was intrigued and ended up reading a lot of the literature he gave me, but at the end of the day, a filet mignon or a pulled pork sandwich (plus sweet tea!) sounded just too good to pass up. I also had recently read Skinny Bitch and was appalled at the amount of antibiotics apparently pumped into the animals that I was later eating, and also just the general treatment of animals. I even had a dream about being surrounded by piles of meat and had no desire to eat it. I seriously considered switching to vegetarianism, even tried it for a couple of days, to no avail.
For Lent in 2009, I at least gave up red meat for 40 days, which made my backpacking trip throughout Australia, the land of cattle and shrimp on the barbies, a little bit of a challenge. I survived. I even found one vegan burger and fries in Melbourne (which I can’t remember the name of anymore, sadly enough) that I found to be just as tasty as anything from Five Guys, my fave hamburger joint. Halfway through the trip though, Lent ended and I was back to eating hamburgers and chips and amazing chicken pad Thai and fish and chips, the Aussie way.
Toward the end of my stay in Australia, I finally learned how to grill. The couple we were renting a room in a flat from had a gorgeous gas grill on a terrace overlooking the neighborhood south of downtown Sydney, and I was thrilled that I had finally learned how to perfectly grill chicken or steak. This love for grilling followed me home back to the States, where I was reuinted with the ChickFila sandwiches, Chipotle carnitas burrito bowls and Longhorn filet mignon that I loved (and had missed so dearly while I was in Australia).
Follow me through Thanksgiving of 2009, where I enjoyed a perfectly cooked turkey (recipe courtesy of Giada di Laurentis). Christmas dinner consisted of the traditional lechon (pork cooked Cubano style, for the uninitiated) and piles of fried shrimp and chicken parmesan. I would feel a pang of remorse when I thought about how I had wrestled with becoming vegetarian prior going to Australia. The aforementioned PETA friend (the one from Obama’s election night) would post links and articles on facebook about cruelty to animals and I would read them, and immediately regret reading it, knowing I was accountable for the information I had just read….
This new year, however, my friend Jeanne recommended I watch the documentary Food, Inc. (Visit her blog for more info). This sparked the old flame of responsibility and health and environment-conscious living. I became frustrated at large corporations for manipulating virtually most of what gets funneled down into grocery stores and restaurants. This was only fueled further when I sat down in Borders one afternoon and began to thumb through Fast Food Nation, which chronicles how a combination of socio-economic conditions led to the development of the fast food industry and largely influenced the way meat was produced. I began to remember (and actually believe) that I have a daily responsibility to care for the environment and live compassionately.
So over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying it out, easing myself into it. Eating meat 2-3 times a week, rather than 2-3 times a day. But this past week, I finally made the general switch (and commitment) to at least be vegetarian for three months.
I’ll let you know how it goes. I’m not craving meat today in anyway so at least that’s a good sign. Also, if you have any help or advice, please let me know. I went grocery shopping today for the first time with specifically no meat in mind and it wasn’t as hard or as tempting as I thought. I do think eating out is going to be difficult…
But we shall see.