Tuesday, April 14, 2009
A recovering vegeterian's dilemma
I was a vegetarian (near vegan) for at least three years, and I did not eat beef for more than 12 years. This was partly for health reasons, but also because my heart hurts when I think about animals dying. To some degree this is an over-sensitivity due to my largely city-girl upbringing (my parents grew up in the country and thanks to many visits to the small town where they grew up I can point out a meat vs. milk cow, but that's the extent of my farm skills). I have had only two pets in my life, both cats. One had to be put to sleep when I was in high school due to complications from feline leukemia, which devastated our whole family. The other lived to be a cranky old lady and died peacefully in her sleep. I never experienced the "circle of life" stuff that kids growing up on farms experience.
I gave up being a vegetarian when I stopped eating gluten. Partly because I was dealing with severe anemia and having cravings for meat (which I never had before) but also because there are only so many food restrictions I can deal with at one time without going insane. It's hard enough to find gluten and dairy free food in restaurants-- add vegetarian to that and you are guaranteed nothing but a bowl of lettuce in many restaurants. It got to be too much. So I compromised by committing to only eating pasture raised, organic meat knowing that at least the animals will have had a happy and healthy life and are more likely to have been killed in a humane way. Plus, healthier animals = healthier meat.
Then 5 fluffy, funny baby chickens came into my life. One of my classmates asked me today if I was still going to keep eating chicken. In order to make eating meat okay for me again last summer I had to disconnect myself psychologically to some degree from the source. Now the source (or at least the source's relatives) are sleeping in a box in my living room. I am having nightmares about hawks, raccoons, snakes and other predatory creatures hurting my babies and yet I am somehow supposed to cook their cousin for dinner? I don't know how to resolve those feelings. I am not going to go back to being a vegetarian but I also might not eat chicken again for awhile....