For the past few months I've been flirting on and off with vegetarianism. While I am not 100%, I have cut down considerably on my consumption of animal products. When I do eat meat, which happens at most a time or two a week (if at all), it's usually lean and in small quanities.
For some bizarre reason, though, yesterday at the grocery store I got it into my head that meatloaf sounded good. Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe it was nostalgia for the meatloaf and mac & cheese my mom would make when I was a kid, or maybe it was that I hit my head harder than I thought when I fell down last week. I don't know, all I know is that at that moment it sounded comfort-filled and good.
So, somehow I came home with a package of ground beef yesterday, thinking I'd make it later in the week. As it turned out, I ended up making it tonight. When you haven't touched a lot of raw meat lately, mooshing ground beef into something loafy is pretty disgusting. This is even more true when you can't get out of your head that the matter squishing between your fingers is ground flesh. Not meat or beef, but the flesh of a formerly living, breathing animal that felt cold, discomfort and pain.
Before Christmas, I went about five months without eating meat. This isn't the first time I've toyed with vegetarianism, but it seems that each time a little more of my ability to disassociate what I am eating from its living origins slips away. I sometimes think if I try it often enough, one day I will get it right and there'll be no going back. It wouldn't be the worst thing. I like the way it feels when I know that no living thing had to suffer for me to find nourishment. And just think what it would do for my cholesterol levels, my ever present struggle with weight.
As it is, I find myself thinking more and more about where my food comes from. I notice things like the amount of cow juice a meatloaf sweats when it's cooking. I don't know if the beef I bought was mislabeled or if it's just that I haven't made it in so long that memory of how much fat drips out of it was not generous enough. All I know is that the thing currently sitting on my counter seems like a big, greasy blob. I tried eating a little and it made my stomach turn. I'm not sure if it's the grease or the conscious awareness of where it came from. It's becoming more difficult to seperate the calf from the cow, the cow from the beef. Like I didn't have enough guilt in my life, now I have added this feeling of uneasiness to my emotional sphere every time I eat an animal product.
You'd think that would be enough to stop craving it. Food is a funny thing, though. It has so many social and emotional associations. It's not just nourishment, but it's tied to the way we live, how we interact, how we celebrate. Decades of programming aren't as easy to overcome as one might think, even when one is intellectually on board with the idea of changing. At some point I'll have it all figured out. For now, I'm just doing the best I can.