Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Paltry poultry ponderings

Hmm a non-fluff post? Yeah I'm probably a long time overdue for that. (and, for the record, I'm not promising that after reading this you'll think it wasn't fluffy)

So, I'll share. I've been a vegetarian for ... hrm let me count, about 8 1/2 years.

In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you I do eat some seafood, which will kick me out of the "vegetarian" club according to some (and fairly enough), but I found "vegetarian" easier than explaining "ovo lacto pesce vegetarian" to waiters.

Other than the whole seafood thing, I'm pretty strict. Won't eat stuff with chicken fat, and yes, I do consider gravy to be meat (though lemme tell ya, a big smothering hot bowl of poutine sounds WICKED good right about now) unlike some veggies I know.

I'm also not a bagel-and-pasta vegetarian. I make sure I get my B vitamins and enough protein. (but I will admit my diet lately? sucky.)

I started being veggie after taking a course called the theory and practice of nonviolence in my undergrad. It was a religious studies course, and one I really enjoyed. Got me thinking kinda course. Essentially, the idea is that you get to thinking about violence in the world around us, which included discussing meat and violence toward animals.

Despite being the granddaughter of cattle and hog farmers (yes, really), I never really ate a whole lot of meat. My mum is a wicked (like really should be a chef) cook and always made a huge variety of food, and it wasn't all "meat-and-potatoes with a side of vegetables that have had the crap boiled out of them" when I was a kid.

My decision to go veggie was based on a lot of things - environmental impact, high intensity factory farms, the health issues that go along with meat including the antibiotics and growth hormones given to animals and, of course, the cute fuzzy animal part. I'm guessing anyone who's read my blog for more than 15 seconds may have figured out I'm an animal person. We're numbered 2:1 in this house (4 animals, 2 people). I used to have a boyfriend whose parents were chicken farmers, and was recruited to move them between barns. This is done by picking them up by their feet and plunking a whack of them into a tiny cage. Um, not so nice.

I don't debate it with people, cause it's a personal choice. I'm not interested in converting anyone to become veggie. It was a personal choice for me, and that's about all I say when people question me about it.

I should be clear, too. It wasn't that I didn't like meat, it was that I stopped eating it.

Lately? (Well, more than lately, more like for the past year) I've been craving chicken. Like crazy. I can even recall the exact moment when I started really craving it. A former co-worker of mine in Ottawa had brought her lunch and was nuking some chicken in the kitchen. Like Tucan Sam on the fruit loops commercials I actually followed my nose from my office to find the smell. When I realized it was chicken I kinda scratched my head and said "hm well guess that's the end of that" and went back to my office. It really hasn't stopped since then.

I should also explain that when I get a craving it's very specific, and I get pretty crusty if I don't get it. (no, not pregnant, no plans for that anytime soon, thanks for asking) I'm weird I know, but it drives me bonkers when I really want some specific food and can't have it. Said cravings frequently involve candy, which is a large part of why I have muffin-top-itis. But, I digress (what else is new?).

I've been having this craving for chicken pretty much for a year. A freaking year, which, is essentially a geological time scale amount of time for me. And? It's not going away.

I've tried satiating it by having the "chicken-less chicken" type soy products including breaded broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken-less stuff, and even soy chicken strips in my quesedillas (which, by the way, are wicked). But? They don't cut it.

At dinner on Saturday night I found myself secretly hoping Dave would order the risotto which had mushrooms and chicken so I could just try a tiny nibble of chicken. (he didn't) After 8 1/2 years I actually don't remember what it tastes like.

I could justify eating chicken again by saying "if I'm craving it it probably means I need more protein or something" or that I have reduced my environmental impact by stopping eating meat altogether for a period of time, which is good, and maybe I can find a local organic farmer who could sell me some chicken boobies. That would solve at least some of my concerns about meat. But really? I'm having trouble with this. (yes I realize I'm lucky this is something I worry about, given how many people have WAY more important and serious things to be worried about in the world right now, like eating at all)

I'm not sure that even if it were sitting right there in front of me that I could bring myself to try chicken again.

So there ya go. A twisted, and convoluted look into Heather's brain. Ignore the cobwebs, they're part of the charm.

Any advice? Any former veggies who started eating meat again? It even annoys me how conflicted I am over this.


mamatulip said...

I completely respect your choice to be a vegetarian and I can also completely understand how conflicted you are over this. I used to work with a woman who was a strict vegetarian (she might have been a vegan, I can't remember...). We worked at McDick's and the only thing she'd eat off of the menu was the fries. I was working the day that she realized that the fries weren't fried in vegetable shortening. She got physically ill and had to leave early.

I stopped eating red meat for several years through high school and after I graduated. I just couldn't bring myself to eat it. I don't eat fish, so that left chicken. And honestly, I don't think I could give chicken up. Read meat, yeah. Chicken? No. It's just too good.

This isn't helping you, I know.

Honestly, I don't know what to tell you, except I understand.

ElaineMI said...

Maybe this might help, Heather. At my Weight Watchers meeting, the leader was discussing the value of eating chicken. She says that most of the chicken that we buy in the store has been enhanced with 'fillers'. This means chicken broth (liquid fat) and other products. She didn't go into what other products were injected into the body parts. This was so when we thought we were paying $0.69 a lb for chicken, we were mostly getting fat enhanced chicken.

I am not a vegetarian. I've wanted to go that way, but, unfortunately, I'm too addicted to meat and my husband wouldn't go for it either. I've been thinking of the 10 commandments lately and have to wonder when we got the commandment "Thou Shall Not Kill", God didn't mention WHAT not to kill. Just a thought.

I watched a video that my son had gotten from a fellow student that contained the killings of animals for meat. I believe PETA put it out. It was pretty graphic, pretty disturbing and I know I wouldn't enjoy being strung up by my feet to be dipped in scalding hot water to burn off the feathers and then have my head ripped off. It sort of pulls for the going vegetarian thing all the more.

Would it hurt to taste a little chicken? Probably not. Unless it sends you on a binger of robbing KFC stores of wiping them out.

Cravings....sometimes it's a signal that your body needs something, it's lacking something. Might want to go over what you're eating and see if there's something you can do to fill that void. Good luck

wordgirl said...

I respect your choice, too, but I'll never stop eating meat.

Melissa said...

I say give it a go and see if you really enjoy it. My best friend was a vegetarian from 17 -26 and started having cravings like yours.. now she is a full carnivore once again!

Rude Cactus said...

Veggie here too...and I occasionally have cravings but I haven't cracked yet. I do eat some seafood as well. Most of me has no interest in meat anymore but sometimes its tough. I say what the hell...try it. Chances are, you'll wonder what the fuss was about and go back to veggieism! :-)

sunshine scribe said...

Veggie here too (pretty strict except I sometimes eat poutine!).

I crave tacos. Real tacos. But I once decided that I should just try them and after one bite I had enough.

Do what you gotta do. I can't remember what chicken tastes like either so I am not much help there. My son tells me its yummmmmmy ... but not as good a chocolate.

Good luck with this struggle. I can understand completely.

Heather said...

Ok so here's the update. I bit the bullet; well, more accurately the chicken.

I started off with a sliver from Dave's plate from dinner tonight and shoved it in my mouth before I could think about it.

I was expecting to be all wowed and amazed at the taste, but to me it just tasted stringey and mealey. Hmm never expected that. I really thought I'd totally like it but it we pretty meh. I took a second slightly bigger nibble and found the result was still pretty much the same.

I doubt I'll make it a regular habit but I don't regret trying it (though I may later because after 8 1/2 years I don't think I have the stomach acids and enzymes to digest meat anymore).

Mamatulip: Yeah I avoid McDick's for the same reason. I heard their fries are coated in beef tallow. Ew!

ElaineMI: the PETA crew are pretty militant, and I'd go as far to say biassed, but they do have a point when they say slaughterhouses are not exactly nice places.

Wordgirl: To each their own! :)

Melissa: Totally not ready to revert to carnivore but was totally ready to try it again.

rude cactus: I was totally expecting to love it but you're right... it was pretty meh. Go Veggies!

Sunshine Scribe: For YEARS I've been saying I was going to make veggie gravy for veggie poutine. We should totally get together and try it! I hear ya on the Tacos, though the smell of ground beef completely grosses me out. I'm a huge fan of veggie ground round and when I feel like a junk food meal I make hamburger helper with TVP.

Mrs. Chicky said...

I haven't had poutine in years! I don't think I would even remember what the taste like - except, yummy. Yeah, I'm pretty sure I thought they were yummy.

I see from your comment that you gave in and had your chicken fix. Sorry it wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Get it?! Cracked? Egg? Chicken?!

Bad joke, sorry, it's early.

Heather said...

Mrs. Chicky: I haven't had poutine in years either, but MAN is it good! And yes, good groaner! :)