So, at some point in the last two posts, I mentioned that I eat meat for a limited time of year, then spend the rest of the year vegetarian. Which seems more than a little odd to most people, if not just downright wishy-washy. So, let me grab a cup of tea, and I’ll blather at you.
Okay, I lied. It’s iced milk coffee. I may never sleep again.
I ‘went’ vegetarian about this time last year. Cariad (the husband, for those keeping score at home) contracted a truly spectacular case of norovirus from a BK cheeseburger. Seriously, the man couldn’t keep anything in, not even basic liquids. Once I had informed him, much to his chagrin at the time, that he was not actually going to die of this, he looked pitifully up at me and said “I don’t think I want to eat meat, anymore.” At which point I looked lovingly into his bleary eyes and said, “Honey, you don’t eat vegetables.”
He’s come a long way since then, for which I have to give him a whole lot of credit. Truthfully, I had wanted to become vegetarian for quite some time. There are about twice as many reasons for eating a vegetarian diet as there are vegetarians, all in varying degrees of validity and rationality, and our household isn’t much different. I, personally, feel physically better when I am not eating meat. I have concerns about the ethics of meat production, particularly CAFOs, and let me tell you, “ethically/sustainably produced” meat is freaking expensive, and I am poor. Let me reiterate that last bit as a reason of its own: I am poor. Even evil-ammoniated-CAFO meat is expensive, by my standards. So, when it comes right down to it, I don’t eat meat because it makes me feel crappy and it’s expensive, and why should I pay extra to feel like poo?
All that said, even when I am being extra particular about it, I have not gone to great lengths to avoid meat. Meat based broths don’t much bother me, and I’m not going to run to the toilet gagging and spewing a ranty manifesto about MEEEEET EEEEEBULS if I accidentally ingest it. Even this past year I continued to eat shrimp, though I got a lot more cagey about it after the oil spill.
All this goes to say that I don’t actually believe there is anything wrong with eating meat qua eating meat. In fact I think certain levels of meat consumption are part of a responsible long term agrarian model necessary to a sustainable social model. I do think industrialized nations tend to eat more of it than they should, the U.S. in particular, but if you have ever had any lasting interactions with a domesticated cow, it generally dawns on even the most ardent animal lover that this creature’s genetic destiny is to be food for other animals, one way or another.
On the other had, however, I live in Michigan. It has a few upsides, which our governor is trying really damn hard to grind beneath the heel of “be careful what you wish for,” and its not like we get as much snow as most of the states that surround us, but still. The Michigan growing season is… limited. Think of “seasonal eating” what you will, high-handed malarkey or gospel truth, there is only so much season to go around in Michigan before you find yourself in February, with only a few potatoes, the hardiest of root vegetables, and grainy apples as the only actual “produce.” Now I love parsnips, beets, turnips, hell, I’ll even find uses for celeriac. However, there is a point at which, when faced with crippling seasonal affective disorder, the yearly death-cold from hell, a root vegetable slightly uglier than sin and a cabinet full of dried beans, the only reaction I can come up with is to curl up in the corner, whimper, and do cost-benefit analyses as to whether the cheese from a pizza is going to tip the death-cold into the realm of torture. You know those scenes in old cartoons where extreme hunger would cause a character to view another as a walking chicken? Well, this season causes me to view chicken as edible.
So, this year, I came up with a cunning plan (that cannot fail!) that, I won’t lie, has a lot to do with the St. Patrick’s Day tradition of Corned Beef. This was the meat that I held out on becoming a vegetarian for last year (though I had it at my mom’s, so as not to torture Cariad. Corned beef can drive me to great lengths, but not that far.) I love corned beef in a not terribly healthy way, I have to admit. So my idea was this: beginning with Imbolc (beginning of February,) I’d start increasing my meat intake little by little, until I could reasonably eat corned beef without totally borking my system. I still wanted to keep a vegetarian kitchen, partly because I’m lazy, partly because I wanted to make it possible for Cariad and Kanai to maintain whatever diet they wanted to, and mostly because our refrigerator is very small. But eating out, or take out, I would eat meat more and more.
St. Patrick’s Day corned beef? I will find it.
BUT. Beginning on March 21, or the day after the equinox for those interested in the calendrical cycle of this little project, I’m dropping meat from the diet again. In fact, I’m probably going to do a little 10 day vegan ‘cleanse’ type thing, then go back to ovo-lacto-vegetarianism (I have unavoidable calcium issues, so those have to stay) until next year. This way, I feel like I get the best of both worlds. We’ll see how it goes.