17 Years This Month

I didnt realize I’ve been away so long.  Sorry everyone.  I’ve been really stressed about work.  When I get really stressed I have a tendency to completely isolate.  I have so much to share.  The Shipwreck Shawl is finished, I’ve made jam, pickles, bread, and am looking at starting a Vermicompost bin.  Pictures soon.

Part of the stress too was that it’d been so long since I updated I worried about updating.  That’d it’d been waaay too long and how would I manage.

What happened 17 years ago in October?   At 15, I made a snap decision to stop eating meat.  One of my girlfriends rented a Faces of Death video.  The end showed a cow being lead up a ramp, it’s head put in a contraption so it couldnt move, then someone slit it’s throat.  All this gross stuff spilled out, what looked like more than blood, and I was done.

That night at dinner I announced to my parents that I wasnt eating meat anymore.  My parents grew up in small town Iowa.  Mom grew up on a farm, Dad grew up in town, both grew up in heavy meat eating families.  In Iowa, where they live, cattle is a big industry.  Maybe not as big as corn and soybeans, but it rounds out the top 3. 

Needless to say, my announcement, went over like a lead balloon.  There were lots of fights between Dad and I, mostly because he didnt want Mom to make anything special for me.  Once she realized it wasnt a phase she would do some things for me: cheese pizza, Asian rice boxes, frozen veggie egg rolls, lasagna that was only half meat.  Eventually, there were Gardenburgers.  Thanks Mom!

Was there anything I missed at first?  YES!  Chicken sausage on pizza.  Did I cheat at first about chicken sausage on pizza?  Yes, but only when I was home alone.

After moving out on my own I learned that one cannot survive on cheese pizza, mac and cheese, spaghetti, and fish sticks.  I started to cook more. 

When I lived with Hawkeye, there was a short time (maybe 2 years) when I would eat chicken once in a while.  Maybe once a month, or once every two months.  We came for our first visit to IA after moving to Oregon and Mom made chicken twice a day, every day, for a week.  After the 3rd day I was soooooooooooooo sick, I gave up chicken and never looked back.

Mom taught me how to cook, starting when I was a kid.  The first thing I learned to cook was hot dogs.  I must have been 5 or 6.  This has proven to be a huge blessing.  I dont know what I’d do if I couldnt cook.

In 17 years, I’ve learned a lot.  I’ve learned a lot about factory farming, nutrition, food, cooking, experimenting, etc.  I no longer slavishly follow a recipe.  I’m not afraid to play with it and if I’m making a recipe that calls for a specific ingredient and I dont have it, I’m not afraid to make substitutions.  I’m not afraid to play or experiment. 

I didnt fully come into my own as a cook, and become comfortable with experimenting, until I moved into my own place here in Oregon.  Cooking for yourself opens up new worlds of possibilities.  You make whatever you like and if it doesnt turn out, no big deal.  There is no one to please but yourself.  Cooking for myself is a wonderful experience.  I was freed from strictly following a recipe because I learned that there is no reason to.

Would I ever go back to eating meat?  At this point, no.  In part because I’m comfortable being a vegetarian who occasionally eats fish.  I dont miss meat.  If I went back to eating meat, especially cow and pigs, I’d probably get sick.  That week my Mom made chicken twice a day, every day, I learned my body just cant handle digesting more than just a little meat at a time. 

 Moving to Oregon has been fabulous.  Pretty much anywhere you go in Portland there are vegetarian options.  There are restaurants that cook only veg/vegan food and vegetarian/vegan food carts are popping up all over the city.

I’m no longer a 16-year-old, self righteous, militant, vegetarian.  I dont care if people eat meat in front of me.   I do have a problem with lamb and veal.  Veal especially because of the way it is raised.  Not eating meat is a choice.  I’m pretty darn lucky I live in a time, city, and country, where I can make that choice.  Not everyone has that option.  Yes, I eat fish and eggs.  Love real cream in my morning coffee and there is no way in hell I could or would give up cheese.  I heart cheese.  I heart cheese from cows, goats, and sheep.  I heart cheese in my sleep.  I heart cheese in a train or on a plane.  I heart cheese.

One thing I’ve always found curious is that I dont crave sugar.  I used to eat a lot of sugar.  Somewhere along the way cooking more for myself and eating vegetarian has reduced my craving for sweets.  No idea why.  Not to say on a shitty day I dont crave a piece of thick chocolate cake, but it’s no longer necessary.

There you go.  I’ve been a vegetarian for 17 years and there is no intention of going back.

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