the end and the beginning

I’ve done it. I’ve rejoined the world of carnivores. This weekend, for the first time in almost 10 years, I ate meat again. Its been in the works for almost 6 months now, my inner conflict about whether to go back to eating meat products, and in all honesty, I teared up before I took that first bite.

I’ve always taken pride in the fact that I was a vegetarian. After so many years, it became part of my identity and its helped me define myself. I’ve loved learning to sustain myself off of vegetables, exploring new grains and new protein forms, and given my deep deep love for all animals, I felt good knowing that I wasn’t contributing to the horror that is factory farming. Its been a challenge too though. As an eastern European with a large eastern European family, meat is a sacred part of one’s diet, possibly even the most important. In the same vein, I am a genuine lover of food, of dining experiences, and of all things culinary. It actually pained me to know that I wouldn’t get to experience some of the dishes my favorite chefs were known for. Giving up meat has been a constant battle with self discipline and restraint, resisting lots of yummy dishes and recipes, and missing out on a few awesome food experiences in my travels.

For the first 8 or so years of my vegetarianism, I was completely fine–I didn’t miss meat, I didn’t need meat, I didn’t crave meat. About 2 years ago though, it all kind of changed. My research (yes, I researched this extensively…) shows that close to 80% of vegetarians go back to eating meat after 10 years, and I’ve felt lethargic, tired, hazy, and weak. I believe almost all of the physical complaints I have are related to the fact that I’m not properly feeding my body or giving it enough natural protein. I’m also ashamed to say I wanted to eat meat again too. And thats why its taken 2 years (6 months of which included some serious serious thought) for me to admit it. I miss meat.

The guilt I feel about this decision is overwhelming, as is the embarrassment. I hate to let this part of me go, but I’ve come to realize that nobody has forced me to stop eating meat. The guilt is my own, the shaming is my own, and beating myself up over doing something that I actually want to do is not only a waste of time, but shameful in itself. So that was the end then.

I’m happy to say its also the beginning though. Its the beginning of me fulfilling all my foodie dreams, the beginning of rebuilding my body and fixing all the things that have been hurting and affecting me seriously for the last few years. Its the beginning of exploring local and sustainable farms that raise their own meat, and the beginning of learning how to cook and prepare meat products. I’m not limiting myself to just poultry and I’m not creating a schedule, timeline, or guidebook for myself. I’m going to eat how I please. I’m going to be as conscientious as I can of my meat choices and I’m not going to feel guilty about the fact that its delicious. Its the beginning, and not only am I learning how to feel good about these choices, I’m excited about them.

all photos from whatkatieate.blogspot.com–one of my all time favorite blogs full of ridiculously beautiful photography and delicious recipes.

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