Recently I noticed I was eating less and less meat. If there were vegetarian options on a menu at a restaurant, any restaurant, I would almost always select it. I loved eating things I didn’t typically make at home. In November of 2011, I decided to give up meat completely. Not for weight loss (duh, donuts are vegetarian). I just did it because meat wasn’t appealing to me. To be honest, I haven’t missed it at all. But to understand why it seems so weird I might be a vegetarian, you have to know more of my background.
I grew up in a very (VERY) small town in southeast Missouri, population 1700. There were less than 100 kids in my graduating class if I remember correctly. The town didn’t even have a stop light (other than a flashing one that no one noticed) until after I graduated high school. We didn’t get off school for spring break; instead we got off for deer season. Yes, you read that right. We got off school for deer season.
In this town, people don’t just hunt for sport (although they do love it). Everything they kill is eaten. In fact, it’s a means of survival for some as jobs aren’t exactly plentiful in this little town tucked away in the middle of the Mark Twain National Forest. So, I grew up eating deer and other animals I frankly can’t believe I ate. It was a normal part of our life.
Fast forward to the present where we live in suburbia and the only thing my husband hunts for is a matching pair of socks. I’m eating less and less meat until I finally just take it out of my diet altogether. Now, this totally freaked even me out at first. I got online and started researching it (I know, you’re shocked…whatevs). I thought I was going to have to start eating vegetables I didn’t recognize and couldn’t pronounce. I talked to a vegetarian friend and she said I was making it far too complicated. Boy, was she right.
Turns out, I still eat exactly what my family does. Our typical meal is a meat, vegetable, and a starch. Instead of the meat, I substitute some kind of legume (that’s a fancy word for beans). Sometimes I’ll also throw in a grain or pasta of some sort. I found out that not only is couscous fun to say, it’s delish!
My ten year old daughter fuh-reaked when she discovered I was a vegetarian. She thought I was going to “make” everyone give up meat. She even told me she knew a couple of vegetarians and they never looked happy when they were eating. The funny thing is, it took her almost a week to notice. That’s how little impact it had on my carnivorous family.
So don’t be worried about changing something up just because you’ve always done it a certain way or you’re afraid of some kind of backlash. You never know what you might discover about yourself. (Although I’ll admit my Dad doesn’t know about this.)
And for the record, no, I don’t eat chicken (chicken is meat, by the way). No, I don’t eat fish. I get plenty of protein. I’m not going to try to “convert” you. (What you put in your body is your business.) And I haven’t hugged any trees lately. If I feel like having a burger, I will. I even ate some chili with meat in it the other day. Of course I can count on one hand how many times I’ve eaten meat since November. And the server at our favorite local restaurant has finally gotten used to my new order. Mediterranean Chicken Wrap, hold the chicken please.