I’m back! I’m sure you’ve all been waiting on the edge of your seats to hear about my conversion to partial-veganism. OK, let’s start at the beginning. About a year ago, I went to visit a slaughterhouse. This visit was for professional reasons, and I’m not at liberty to give any details or discuss any of my opinions about what I saw there. But I will say that nothing I saw there caused me to believe there is anything immoral or unsanitary about eating meat. The whole operation was amazingly clean and orderly, considering that their business is killing, gutting and butchering many many animals every day.
However, coming face to face with the death that is required to give us our daily bacon has changed the way I look at meat. Suddenly, it doesn’t look like a boneless skinless breast anymore. It looks like a piece of animal flesh, something that used to be alive, that gave its life unwillingly for me. Meat has also become associated for me with the smell of death and blood that absolutely permeated the slaughterhouse. Let’s just say that was not a yummy smell. So, given my new perspective, maybe you can see why meat doesn’t appeal so much anymore. At the very least, it’s made me feel that I should eat my meat with a bit of reverence, some recognition of the sacrifice that was required.
The result is that I have cut the amount of meat that I eat and cook drastically. I don’t want to cut it out completely, because I don’t want to close off any of the culinary possibilities that this world has to offer. But when I do eat meat, I often find myself becoming mildly disgusted. Do not even talk to me about deli meat. All that is a prelude for me to say that, when I heard Mark Bittman on the radio the other day, saying that we should all eat fewer animal products, I was feeling pretty smug. “I’ve already done that,” I thought. But then, he kept talking, and he mentioned that meat is not the only animal product that can be artery clogging, loaded with antibiotics and hormones and environmentally problematic to produce. Yes, people, dairy products have their issues too. Less so when they are organically and locally produced, but even then, plants are better for you. I started thinking about how much cheese and eggs and sour cream and half and half and ice cream are a part of my daily diet.
Now, people, I am not crazy. I’m not giving up cheese. Or ice cream. But Bittman said something that was inspiring to me. He said you could do something good, for your health and for the planet, just by eating less of the stuff. (If you want to hear the radio spot, go here.) And I thought, that I can do. I think we're often crippled in life by thinking we have to do something all the way or not at all. I'll always remember the revelation I had when a dental hygienist told me I could floss 3 times a week and make some difference. You mean I don't have to do it every day? Her advice converted me from a person who never flossed to an occasional flosser. Progress.
So I have now set a goal for myself of three vegan lunches and two vegan dinners per week. (At breakfast, I simply won't give up my half and half, or the yogurt in my granola, or the cream cheese on my bagels — so that’s out.) I’ve been scouring the internet, well mostly 101 Cookbooks, for dairy-free recipes and talking non-stop about my new love for veganism. I think Mr. SOC is scared. Even I can’t believe this is me, the girl who was raised on ground beef five nights a week and chicken the other two. You never know where life will take you.
Next up, reducing the number of people I murder to one per month.