We've been having some wonderfully sunny, springlike weather here in the Northwest. Despite having stayed home yesterday due to an unpleasantly pinched nerve that has been sending shooting pains through my neck, the sun makes me happy. Sun is hopeful. Sun makes a person feel like she could accomplish things, if only she were able to turn her head. Sun is so sunny! It makes me look forward to the fresh fruits and berries of summer and my master plan for expanding the garden to include more herbs and a better crop of vegetables than we had last year. Being in the middle of my flirtation with vegetarianism makes the prospect even more exciting.
It has now been a little over two weeks since I last ate any meat. After seeing the stories about the recall of 143 million pounds of beef originating in a California slaughterhouse that is the subject of an animal abuse investigation, I cannot say that I am sorry. This is exactly the sort of thing that has fueled my wondering about giving up meat for a long time now. The experience of exploring vegetarianism has made me a lot more aware of where my food originates. And, if I'm going to be honest, it makes me feel a little hypocritical that the animals in my home are spoiled beyond belief, yet I'm willing to let other animals be killed and (as reading about the evils of Westlake-Hallmark reminds me) even tortured when there are plenty of other less cruel alternative foods.
That is the thing about our food supply. It is pretty easy to stick our heads in the sand and forget where the neat packages in the butcher's section have come from. For those of us who live in cities, we don't give a lot of thought to what our hamburger looked like when it was walking or how it met its demise.
While I admit to enjoying the taste of meat (if I don't think about where it comes from), I can't say that I have really missed it. Of course, it has only been a couple weeks and a person can do almost anything for two weeks, but I have to say that the experience has been extremely satisfying thusfar. One of the most satisfying things has been that no animal has had to give its life to feed me during this time.
When I was younger, my only experience with vegetarians was our hippie neighbors who always seemed to be eating something beige, bland and involving millet and shredded carrots. Their kitchen did not make meatless eating look all the appealing, but the truth is that there are tons of wonderful, flavor filled dishes that do not rely on meat for seasoning. Half the fun of my exploration has been finding new cooking methods and spice combinations. I have discovered that it is not black beans that I do not like, but ill seasoned black beans. Toss in some onion, garlic, ginger, allspice and orange juice and it turns out they not only are pretty tasty on a tostada with avocado and Mexican cheese but they also make excellent filling for mole enchiladas (the combined notes of orange and chocolate kick ass!). Who knew?