Once upon a time, I ate meat.
Then I stopped for good.
Then I changed my mind…
Today I’m taking a break from sharing recipes to just share food thoughts. Sometimes it’s good to step back and evaluate why we eat the things we eat.
I’ve been back and forth all over the map about meat.
We were carnivores growing up. Pork chops, ground beef, chicken, turkey, fish right out of the lake, kielbasa, hotdogs, steak, bacon, you name it.
When I was an early twenty-something, I left home to tour with a performing arts group. Every tour was an eating bash! At every stop, host families and host churches fed us like crazy, rich foods to satisfy honored guests. Boy was that fun!!!
Underlying the whole thing, though, was a fear that I wouldn’t get enough to eat. We relied completely on others for our sustenance, and I wasn’t sure what I’d have packed for me day to day.
If I’d relied on God instead of on my own stomach, I wouldn’t have lived to serve that fear. I should have trusted Him to provide for me through those wonderful people, as He did. I never went hungry. But at every meal, I ate all I could fit in my belly and then some.
I began to realize I was feeling sluggish on stage and my dance partner was having a little trouble lifting me. Poor guy had a bad back anyway. I could see him in the shadows during concerts, trying to work out the kinks from lifting his dance partner and I. felt. bad.
Still, I ate to my belly’s content.
When I arrived home after my final trip, I was 20 lbs heavier than my usual weight. I felt gross.
It was right around Thanksgiving and the weather was just getting nice and chilly. I started running hard almost every day, and changed my diet by removing meat from it.
This happened at the same time that I discovered some very disturbing facts about how chickens and cows in particular are raised and slaughtered for most of our store-bought meat. I remember researching these things and just crying in my room because I had no idea that such cruelty had been used to feed my needs.
“I can’t do this anymore,” I sobbed.
I decided to try a no-meat diet for 3 months and see how I liked it.
I LOVED it. Together with my renewed exercise regimen, switching to a vegetarian diet helped me lose the added weight quickly and made me feel lighter and better than EVER.
For the next four years, I ate no meat, unless it would have been offensive to a cook if I abstained. I still drank milk and ate eggs, and tried not to get preachy about vegetarianism. It really bothers me when people act like that.
At the end of those four years, I delivered our first child. It became necessary to eat meat for a little while, just to get through recovery. I realized I had been missing it, and didn’t really mind eating it after all.
Some textures gave me trouble. It was all I could do to choke down half a burger for the first year.
Now here I am, blogging about stuffing balsamic glazes underneath chicken skins with my bare hands.
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO ME?!
I guess I’ve decided not to label myself. It seems awfully unfair to demand that a person choose one diet or one style or one career, etc etc etc and love it for the rest of their life. I could still go back to vegetarianism, because I give myself the freedom to choose.
Right now, the choice to eat meat is for our family. It’s cheaper at this point to eat meat, because I’m not demanding organic cuts, and sometimes the vegetarian alternatives to getting protein are VERY expensive.
I’m also saving time in the kitchen by cooking one meal for all of us, instead of two – one for the boys and one for kooky Momma.
If I can save money and get more time with my family, I feel I ought to do it.
Honestly, it still feels unnatural to eat flesh. The sight of blood in medium-rare steak makes my stomach a little uneasy. The feel of certain meats in my mouth can be a little trying…
But I know that during pregnancies, during nursing, and even for my own busy body’s sake, it’s better for me to eat some meat these days.
So why am I writing this?
Those who know me have been very patient with my back-and-forth choices. I wanted to thank them for being so sweet, especially my family, who often made a vegetarian option to go along with whatever they were serving for a meal.
And I wanted to encourage my readers to give yourselves the freedom of choice. It isn’t wrong to experiment and try to find what works for you.
And no matter what anyone says in words or faces, what matters is a heart at peace – to be settled between you and God that what you’re doing is okay, and it’s not making someone else stumble. If somebody is having a really hard time with your choice, maybe someone close to you, it could be good to reevaluate.
In the end, my time as a veggie really challenged me in good ways:
I learned not to go overboard – not to allow natural/green living to dominate my thoughts or become an idol.
I learned not to shove my own preferences down other people’s throats.
I learned to think about what I’m eating. What will it do to my body? What was done to it before it entered my body?
Someday I would love to be able to afford eating ONLY local, organic meat. But I can’t right now. Right now I can just do my best to feed myself and my family affordable, healthy meals that please everyone around the table.
By God’s grace, I will have the wisdom going forward to know what to eat and how to eat it in each season of life.
This season includes meat.
Pass the chicken, please.