The Road to Pescatarianism

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*Below is a rather serious post about why I am no longer eating meat. If it’s not your thing, feel free to skip this post 🙂

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I’ve been thinking about giving up meat for over three years now. I’m not sure where the idea exactly came from; I believe that I started learning about meat today and how it’s packed with antibiotics, the cows/chickens/pigs are fed with corn and I started re-thinking my consumption of meat. Michael Pollan also was very popular at the time, and everyone was reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma. From watching Pollan on Oprah, I found that I could buy free-range, grass fed meat. Wolia! Problem solved.

Right?

Well. No…

In 2010, I decided I was giving up pork for the year. (Unless – this is a big unless – it was free range and not corn fed. Free range, corn fed pork is actually really challenging to find). In fact, it was my New Year’s Resolution. Except for an occasional free range pork meal, or when I didn’t have the heart to tell someone I didn’t eat pork, I didn’t eat it for the entire year.

It. Was. Hard.

I was so happy when 2011 started and I could eat pork again. Hello, pork roast, ham, bacon. YUM. I missed you, my friends.

So I ate meat again. Visa-Vi, my non pork experiment was good. Right?

Wait.

Okay, the purpose of my not-eating-pork-that-isn’t-humanly-raised experiment wasn’t just to see if I couldn’t eat pork. It was 2 fold.

1) I read somewhere that pigs are similar to dogs. And you know how much I LOVEMYDOG.

2) I thought (and still do) that if we (AMERICANS) support animal farmers who treat their animals humanely should be supported; not those who treat their animals poorly, don’t let them exercise and have their animals lead a confined life.

So, my “year-free-of-pork” was to make (more than anything) an economical statement; I was not going to financially support animal farmers who did not treat their pigs humanely.

Okay.

How did I go from not eating pigs for a year (to make an economical statement) to no longer eating meat, ever?*

Reality? The truth? Again, it was 2 fold:

1) I read Lauren‘s post on Oprah’s Vegan episode. Then I watched the video – at a slaughter house. (WARNING. It’s graphic).

2) I came to terms with what I already knew. I knew that I am, and have always been a grocery store meat eater. What does that mean? That means that I could easily buy, prepare and eat meat I bought at the grocery store. But, I could never, ever (unless I was starving) kill an animal and eat it. I think it’s revolting. Bleh. I would sooner eat a handful of bugs than eat a cow, pig, chicken, or any other livestock that I killed. Just to kill the animal would be devastating to me, let alone skin it, cook it, and eat it. The idea is overwhelmingly upsetting to me.

So. As of the endish** of September, I have tried to no longer eat meat.

Wait. Why fish, then? (A Pescatarian is a person who eats fish but no other meat).

Um. Because I could (and have) fished, filleted, and eaten fish. While it’s slimy and gross, I could do it. I can do it. I don’t have a problem with it.

Why fish and not chickens? I don’t know. I really don’t. Maybe because fish don’t appear to have the same personality/ intelligence as an flesh animal. I don’t know. Maybe they do. But, really, the Can-I-Kill-This-With-My-Own-Bare-Hands question is my rule of measure when eating meat.

Having said all of this, I have really missed meat. OMG. One of my roommates grilled a steak Sunday night. OMG. I wanted one so badly it hurt. Can I mention that beef is my favorite meat? I could take or leave chicken, I do enjoy pork, but I LOVE BEEF.

I love hamburgers. Ugh. To think I will never eat a hamburger again for the rest of my life really is sad to me. I will miss them.

I really like ham. And bacon. And pork chops. I have fond memories with my family around pork products.

But, I am so happy with my decision. I haven’t regretted it, not only for a second. Many times I have seen meat (raw or cooked) and been disgusted. I see it for what it is, animal flesh. I hope it continues to motivate me to refrain from meat eating.

*After I dropped the “meat is animal flesh” bomb, I will tell you my exceptions to my new lifestyle.

1) Politeness. I will eat meat if someone invites me to their home to eat a meal and does not know I don’t eat meat. If they aren’t serving any food sans meat, I will partake in eating said meat. I personally find it rude when people are offered food and decline it – especially when they aren’t allergic. So, I will eat it.

2) Marshmallows. Sooooooo sad. Last time this year (via Facebook) I learned marshmallows (um, my FAVORITE THING EVER) aren’t vegetarian. They are made with gelatin, which is an animal by product, blah, blah, blah. Of course, at Whole Foods or your local Co-Op you can find vegan marshmallows for like $6. And I’m not quite ready to drop $6 on marshmallows yet…

3) Thanksgiving. Yeah, I’m not ready to give up turkey this year. I am really not a fan of tofu (even deliciously flavored tofurky) so I can’t give it up quite yet. And no, I couldn’t kill a damn Turkey. I’m doing my best.

4) Meals made for me with a meat product in it. Like, if you make me soup and use chicken broth (because you forgot). I will eat it. But, now that you know I don’t eat meat so you won’t do that! 🙂

So, why am I telling you this? To change you? To convince you to give up meat too? Nope. Honestly, I am telling you this not only to keep myself accountable, but also tell you now so I don’t have to explain it later.***

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** I was going to give up eating meat October 1, but I went to a wedding where meat was served and I was so hungry that I couldn’t pass up. I haven’t eat meat since that weekend.

*** The social expectation to eat meat is HUGE. It makes people uncomfortable and sad when I mention I don’t eat meat. (I actually try not to mention it to avoid the conversation). Of course, everyone asks “Why?” which is super awkward, especially when we’re eating and they’re eating meat. I stumble over my words, and barely answer the question. After people know I’m not eating meat and we’re eating out and sharing a meal they are always sad when they realize I won’t split chicken tacos with them or sliders. I know. I’m sad too. I love sliders.

11 Comments

Filed under Food!

11 responses to “The Road to Pescatarianism

  1. I loved this post! I’ve gone back and forth about giving up meat but have never fully committed. I guess it’s something I’m still thinking about, and maybe I’ll choose to eat that way in the future. I love that you have exceptions. IMO, a diet doesn’t have to have labels.
    Love your blog!

  2. OMG marshmallows aren’t vegetarian?? I had no clue and I’ve been strictly vegetarian for over 2 years! I so understand your frustration over people’s reaction to being vegetarian. I hate it when people ask me “why” and then almost always look at me like I’m from a different planet! But I still don’t eat it even out of politeness. I just can’t do it. All I can think of is animal flesh and how that poor animal was killed brutally for that flesh. So I always pass on it no matter what the reaction is from others. Great post on vegetarianism by the way. 🙂

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  4. Brittany! I am behind the times! I think this was a very well thought out post. I am excited for you, but I KNOW that the change is hard. It’s so easy at first to focus on all those foods you can’t have, and to feel bad when people question why you’re not eating meat. But I promise – it does get easier. After awhile, the cravings go away and you stop even really thinking about meat as a food option. People will become more accepting of your decision (or just get used to it). But for now, don’t be hard on yourself if you slip now and then or eat non-vegetarian foods like marshmallows (confession: I’ve been a vegetarian for 14 years now and still eat marshmallows. Vegan ones are delicious, btw, but like you said-so expensive). What matters most is that you make decisions you can live with, and adopt a lifestyle you can stick with. I’ve seen people who are way too strict with themselves right from the start and then not eating meat ends up being something that they resent, instead of a choice they’ve embraced.

    On a related note, my boyfriend gave up beef for a year on New Year’s of last year. This wasn’t something I asked him to do, just something he wanted to do on his own, like your pork experiment. I never really thought he’d make it the entire year without it, but here we are, in December and he says he might expand that to pork next year, which I think would be even harder. I would never push him into doing anything, but I have to admit this secretly makes me very happy. However, I am sure he would be able to commiserate, especially as you adjust to the first few months.

    Good luck! And I hope all is well with you!!

    • Thank you for such a great comment!

      Actually not eating meat really hasn’t been that difficult the second month. October was hard but November was a breeze. I rarely crave it and more often than not, the thought of meat sounds disgusting!

      I’ll keep you updated!!

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  6. Great! I love your rules. I like how you hold yourself personally responsible and you can eat fish cuz you can catch/kill it. Also I like the ‘polite’ factor. Nice one!

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