Wednesday, September 2, 2009

All the little baby chickens...

When I was growing, during Lent Seaons our second grade nun - Sister Bernice (the biggest Cleveland Browns fan I've ever known) - would bring in a dozen fertilized chicken eggs. The second grade class would care for these eggs until they hatched and then they'd go to some farm.

Well, one year my mom's work (she worked with seniors at the time) did the same thing. And then Easter was over, they had baby chickens... with no home.

So my mother brought them to our home.
To our suburban home.
In our little urban-esk neighborhood.
Chickens.

I loved them.
I would try to make them fly.
I would come running home from school to play with them.
I was 10 (I think...)

Later, they went to live on a farm. And then they were eaten by a coyote... (which I didn't learn until I was in my mid-twenties... stupid circle of life...)

It should have never been a surprise that I decided to go the way of the veg-head... but it was... 

The first time I became a vegetarian I was 15.
It didn't go over well.
Nope.
Everyone was sure I was going to die. How would I get protein? How would I grow strong? 

The first time I think I made it about a year.

I fell off the wagon, which made everyone at home happy because now I had gotten that non-sense out of my head.

Then my sister became a vegetarian.

Somehow it was considered more acceptable. Probably because she was pretty much vegan from birth.
We used to section things off by color she had so many allergies - she still does. (actually she just was forced to start eating meat again due to the large quantity of allergies she has).

The process, for me, was a gradual thing.
Giving up something you love is hard freaking thing! And what did I love the most? Bacon. Damn I loved bacon...
I was very much a "meat and potato" kinda gal growing up. My favorite meals, at home, were braciole, a chicken soup my grandma made we called "pastina," (which is a noodle), city chicken (for all of you - this is breaded, fried pork on a stick) and steak.

I still cook meat from time to time (except for when I was pregnant - holy mother of god - the smell made me want to puke) but now I still do Thanksgiving (and at my house that is Turkey, Salmon and fake turkey) - which isn't a good thing, honestly, I can't (and won't) taste it - so I never know if I did a good job.

No one complains so I just kinda go with it... 

The second time I just gave up "red meat." This lasted a long time, until I was about 22.
I woke up one day, drove to Outback and ordered a rib-eye rare.
Pretty much hated myself and then just stopped - except for fish.

My first marriage I gave up my ways as a veg-head again. But this time it was because my in-laws couldn't wrap their head around the fact that I wouldn't want to eat meat. It was like being 15 again - and no one ever wants to be 15 again... NO ONE!

I tried to eat chicken, but this time it just made me super sick.

Right now I'm 8 years into not eating any meat - on purpose - I have consumed bacon on one occasion because I didn't realize it was in the potatoes.  
8 years ago is also when I gave up fish - and that was upon request of my husband, who is also a vegetarian to the point he won't wear leather, etc.

I don't miss it. I thought I did, but then I tried to think about consuming meat and I noticed that most things that I "like" were seasoned and covered in sauces...  now I just eat the sauces.

In the past year or so, since my tolerance of dairy isn't doing so well, I have evolved even more closely to becoming vegan. What is vegan? No anything from animals including all dairy, eggs and even honey... 

The first trip out it was bacon holding me back, now it's honey.

People assume that you're healthy if you're a vegetarian/vegan - this is very much not true. When you don't know what you're doing things like Little Debbie and that 5 buck pizza from Georgio's can look great (until you look behind you and see the luggage you're carrying from all that processed junk...)

But over all it's just time consuming.
Suddenly that 15 minutes shopping trip takes an hour because you have to read every label, since things like Stove Top Stuffing - cornbread - has chicken fat in it.
Vegetable soup - beef broth
French onion soup - beef and chicken broth
Dannon Yogurt - gelatin (bone marrow)
Most cheese - rennet (pig stomach acid)

Then you want to go out to eat and you just want a grilled cheese - that the cook grills on the same flat top they just made Mr. Happy Johnny I love Bacon's bacon crusted burger delight on and your "easy" grilled cheese is tainted by pork parts.

So you learn how to cook, even though you vowed you never would, but it's okay because there are only so many times you can hear - "but I thought you said pepperoni?" as you're telling the chick at the pizza place you're returning it because you asked for black olives. (Oh, and places like Pizza Hut - they use chicken stock in their pizza sauce.) So you buy some yeast, a big thing of all purpose flour, a can of tomato sauce (and then make your own) and top it how you want.

It's an on going battle, day in and day out. And then if you have allergies! People just get mad - like you're doing it on purpose to ruin their night.

When we go to parties I bring 3 side dishes, when we get there we fill our plates so we know we can eat. (did I mention the cheese pizza curse? The meat eaters buy 1 cheese pizza for the veggies and then the rest of the meat eaters then eat the cheese pizza...)

Oh the trials and tribulations of my life. ;)

ADVICE: If you have a friend that is a vegetarian, and you don't mind going out on the limb for him/her, here is the secret... Don't have ONE vegetarian thing at your party, only have ONE meat dish - meat eaters will eat anything. Trust me. Most don't even realize they're not eating meat. 

I may complain from time to time, but I still love it.
Honestly, it only crosses my mind that I don't eat meat - and how that's not normal - when it's brought to my attention. (or at a party when I'm half in the bag and want something to soak up the booze in my belly and all I can find are hot wings...)
In this day and age it's easier to stay the course. So many products you can buy like Morning Star, Quorn or Tofurkey deli slices. Plus it's fun to make things - like instead of hot wings, I make hot potato wedges. We now even have our own "house" seasoning salt, pasta sauce, and hot sauce.

I'll find recipes for things I love and just make them into something I can eat.

And then, at the end of the day, when I'm all snug in my bed meditating on all the things I'm grateful for - I think of those little chickens, all those years ago, and know that even though a coyote ate them, they weren't milled alive.

What brought this on?
Go here... (in advance - the video will make you vomit...)

(and I don't judge. Eat what you will - just realize that you should read ingredients too - too much sugar, too much salts - not good for the heart.)

All my studies say I should not eat meat - so at least I have part of this down.
Now I just need to figure out how to meditate for more than 10 minutes - peacefully - because right now, I get there and then I start thinking about all the other things I should be doing...

Like eating.

p.s. chickens make great pets, cuz they're smushy.


4 comments:

  1. Nice to get some background on your choice...That video surprised me...I knew about the standard practices for cows and pigs, but not chicken...I don't think I could give up meat, but I'll be looking into free range now.

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  2. It's not easy by any means, but I've been doing it so long that I can't even remember what meat actually tastes like.

    I've been told that Chipotle is all free range and organic!

    That is one thing I DO miss - the convenience of fast food, but after this many years it's just who I am.

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  3. Great party advice! I totally agree with it, too. I've had many successful get togethers with only vegan food :)

    All the best!

    -Thomas

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  4. I think people hear "vegan" and think "cardboard" or "bland" but that's not true at all!

    All the best to you too!

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