Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanks is given (personal history with meat)

I was 17 when I ate my first red meat. My parents had made an early decision to raise me vegetarian which slowly became me eating chicken and the occasional fishstick but still, I had never tried a meatball. I was at Burger King with my friends when I had my first bite followed by my very own Whopper Jr. I came home and told my mom "I had something to tell her", I was 17. After her heart dropped (and so did her face), my news of the Whopper Jr. came easy and she laughed, relieved. For the next 2 years I seamlessly entered the meat eaters world (I was never far from it, working at both BK and KFC). When I was 20 I started dating a vegetarian and learned more and more about why my parents had made that decision 20 years ago. I slowly converted and after 6 months broke my "clean living" diet once, I stopped for a glazed donut and iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts, I took a few bites and sips, was sickened by the sugar and dumped them in the trash.

I had been vegetarian for 3 years when I found myself in a face off with a plate of Shrimp Scampi. The SS won and I ate the shellfish for the first time since becoming vegetarian. Soon after I moved to San Francisco I became vegan (eating no animal products at all) and this began my roller coaster of vegetarian living. To eat or not to eat eggs, fish, or cheese was a question that I would consistently change my answer to. In SF it was easy to adhere to a strict vegetarian diet with so many great restaurant options and I hardly cooked and ate well. When I decided to move back to Block Island I made the conscious decision to start eating fish again and this is where I have been for the last 3 years. Since exploring more and more and moving further and further from my VegNews magazine (a great proponent for veg. living) I have been eating free range eggs, organic cheese, and fish is a staple when I go out to eat.

This past weekend I found myself at yet another crossroads and it wasn’t with the Turkey. I ate a hamburger. I will save you all my inner turmoil and both sides of the argument to eat or not to eat meat. All my many reasons not to eat meat still hold true for me and this will not become a regular occurrence, unless of course I surprise myself and it does. I had become curious more recently since working with so many people who eat a lot of meat and with my own experimenting and knowledge of food. The beef I ate (sounds so bizarre) was from a farm who Pasteur raises their cows and does not give them any antibiotics or growth hormones. This means the cow grazes on untreated grass and lives a pretty optimal life for a cow, with little intervention, except when it comes time for the slaughter. What prompted me to try it was the fact that my mouth was watering. A lot. This is extremely rare for me, I am not one who pines for meat or even looks twice at it really. I knew it was a healthy high quality burger and so I started with a bite, ate half of it, it tasted good, and ended up with serious indigestion.

The burger was eaten the day we were to "sacrifice" the turkey and 2 ducks. So after i ate my slaughtered cow I was on to kill some birds, not a vegetarians best day. Chopper loves meat and he loves animals so I was really excited to see how this experience would effect him. He is also especially fond of ducks, really, he always points them out and stops to watch them and he never orders duck at a restaurant. But he eats turkey and just about everything else and so wanted to take part. I did not hold the knife at all, but watched on and said a little prayer for the animals as Chopper and our friend Nicolas slit the birds throats (sorry for the graphics but this is how it was done and I feel as though we shouldn't pussyfoot around it). They were both very loving to the birds and saddened to have to do it, but this is the price that was paid to put the turkey on the table this Thanksgiving. After the birds had passed on there was plucking and removal of the innards to be done. Chopper, Nicolas, and his son Gillen all took part in this very arduous and smelly process. The experience reminded us all that at one time, when we had to kill our own meat for dinner, eating it was saved for very special occasions. This lead to more of a respect for the animal who was giving its life for food, more respect for the work that goes into it, and less health problems (to be frank).

So with no further ado... Chopper and I have decided that our next diet will be Vegan for 10 days. No animal products or by products. No eggs, dairy, meat, honey, or fish. We start today. Vegans actually do not wear any leather or wool as well, we have both decided to try to stick to this the best we can, considering what we own. I would love for anyone who would like to, to try along as best they can. Maybe this just means cutting back on meat for the week or experimenting with different forms of protein. Whatever this means to you, it will make a difference to your health or to your perspective. Gobble gobble.

Eating the burger. Probably talking about my "feeeeelings" on the subject.

Chopper paying homage to the duck.

The birds are dipped in boiling water to soften the feathers for plucking. Here the work continues.
He looks like he's running away.

Finished duck l'orange

A most memorable Thanksgiving. Beautiful food and friends (family). At the table everyone said thank you for all that they cherish including the animals that were to feed us. Gillen (11) who raised the birds and then helped to clean and prepare them said a very special thank you which brought tears to my eyes.

For more pictures please visit Maddie's blog
and get her rounded perspective on this great week.

1 comment:

Bethany said...

I love the way you wrote about this. It made me bawl, especially Chopper's fondness for ducks. I think this is the best way to eat meat, with such care and reverence. I love your honesty.