My neighborhood farmer’s market opened at 10 this morning, and I was in line at 9:45 to buy grass-fed beef and eggs from one of the farmers.
This is noteworthy only because, from 2007-2010, I was a vegetarian and planned to continue not eating meat … well, forever.
At first, I went vegetarian because of the environment – cows produce so much methane gas! Eventually it was because I thought meat=murder. But underneath my excuses, I had my secret reasons for going veg:
1. All my friends were doing it.
2. I thought it would help me lose weight.
My friends didn’t seem to care that I was a vegetarian, too. Maybe they knew my heart wasn’t really in the right place? They weren’t nearly as supportive as I hoped they would be, most of them were pretty dismissive. I remember one friend in particular, who, when I told her I occasionally ate fish, told me I had no right to call myself a vegetarian – all the while carrying her leather purse and wearing leather shoes.
As for my hope of losing weight, it was not the case. It turns out that, when you’re not eating enough protein, you are constantly hungry! There was also the fact that I was eating a lot of gluten-based faux meats. Definitely not a healthy choice for me.
So about a year ago, I started to question why I held on so steadfastly to vegetarianism when it really wasn’t treating me too well. People with Celiac disease commonly are deficient in vital nutrients, and I was very low on iron, vitamin D, and all the B vitamins – now I know that meat is the highest quality and most easily absorbed source of all three. I was swayed by the vegetarian propaganda that I could eat extra spinach, lentils, and blackstrap molasses and still be adequately nourished. But my hair was falling out and I was constantly tired. So one day last June, I made myself a bacon sandwich and I’ve been an omnivore ever since.
Nina Planck, author of the book Real Food puts it like this: “The simple truth is this: there are no traditional vegan societies. People everywhere search high and low for animal fat and protein because they are nutritionally indispensable. Frugal cooks use small amounts of meat and fat to supplement the vegetables, grains, and beans that provide most of the calories … Even vegetarian societies prize either dairy or eggs.”
Nowadays I prefer to buy my meat from the farmer’s market, where I know the animals were fed grass and not crammed into feed lots and fattened up for slaughter on corn. But it doesn’t always happen. The grass-fed, grass-finished stuff is expensive! I believe it’s better for me, and the environment, and more humane. It’s just not that great for my checking account.