Back in the day I loved nothing more than a rare piece of meat. I used to worship steak and lamb chops. Oh, and cheeseburgers. My father will tell you that when I was younger, I had a bit of a major obsession with them. All day, everyday. He would take us to a Chinese restaurant and what would I want? A cheeseburger. Italian restaurant? Cheeseburger. I’m not sure how that obsession began, but I was so into cheeseburgers that I would wear cheeseburger button covers. Total nerd. Well since then and for the past two years or so, I have laid off the meat big time. It all happened very organically. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to not eat meat. Little by little, I just said adios to various meats and some fish. There is no really specific reason why I don’t eat meat, I think it’s more of a collection of different reasons for different animals.
Part of my situation is that I’m pretty impressionable. If I see or hear something that grosses me out…that’s it, I’m done. I have always been like this. I don’t know that last time I ate a shrimp but I can tell you why I stopped. Back in Sophomore year of high school a friend’s family took us out to dinner and when I ordered the shrimp dish my friend said, “Ew Lauren. Shrimp are the cockroach of the sea.” Who the f says that as you’re ordering your dinner? I freaking LOATHE cockroaches. They are 100% my biggest fear and they make me want to throw up – roaches and moths. Nope. PS. I just looked it up and apparently I have katsaridaphobia. And let me tell you, the photo that just popped up in my google search, “phobia of cockroaches”, will have me not eating for the rest of the evening. Sick! Had she never said that, I probably would still be eating shrimp. Now, every time I see a shrimp, I also see a cockroach. And honestly, same goes for ground beef. A friend once said something and it stuck with me. We were at a friend’s pool for the day and the hostess whipped up some seriously delicious meat balls. As I was eating them, I asked another friend if she wanted one and her exact response was, “I don’t really like eating flesh”. Well – there goes that. No more ground beef for me. Never really thought of it that way. Well it was that and when a chef friend of mine told me that ground meat is the easiest to carry bacteria. I can’t be bothered with gut bacteria if I can help it as I already have a shaky stomach occasionally as it is. Now, when it comes to our little poultry friends, my dad is to blame. He talks smack about chickens pretty often and when I started looking into that, birds came off my list almost immediately. I’ll let you do the digging. Next came deli meats, other fish high in mercury, various dairies and wieners…well, all but one wiener. Whoa! Inappropriate! Score! But, that’s basically how it began.
Over time, especially working in a very health driven industry for the past six years, I organically just stopped eating a lot more meat and starting eating mostly a vegetarian diet, mainly of vegetables, lots of nuts, healthy grains and oil. Oh and wine. See, that’s where the moderation aspect of my vegetarianism comes up. I chose wine over meat. Believe me, I would want nothing more than a big steak dinner accompanied with a heavy glass of red and then why not top it off with a ciggy. Used to love those too. Actually just had a huge craving for one this past weekend. Again, wine wins over both.
Now, for whatever reason, when I do decide to hop on the meat band wagon every so often, it’s always the same go to. Bacon. I freaking love bacon. The more well done and crispier, the better. Especially if I’m under the weather with a hangover. Oh and prosciutto. Is there anything better than a fresh ball of burrata, a beautiful olive oil and prosciutto di parma? For me, there is nothing better. Some may argue that pork and cured meats are disgusting and bad for you and I copy that. But when I smell bacon, it’s over.
Over the past few years I have learned to try many substitutions for meat and dairy. I love chickpeas, hemp milk, walnuts, protein smoothies, spices, lentils…honestly, things I never thought in a million years I’d like or be eating on the regular. I used to hate nuts. Lentils too. Also never thought I would naturally develop an adverse reaction to what was once my most favorite thing to eat. I guess my point is that when people ask me why I say no to the meat, my really only true honest answer is that it grosses me out. I feel bad saying it as said person is cutting into a juicy piece of delicious meat, so I guess if I write it down right here, it’s all out in the open. Let’s put it this way, in New York this past weekend I was literally coerced to try “the most outstanding” lamb ever made. And when I say coerced, I mean drunkenly talked into. So I took the tiniest bite and it was confirmed – I no longer love rare lamb. Almost accidentally slow barfed on my plate. Maybe one day I’ll be back on the meat wagon, but for now, I’m off for the time being.
In the meantime, here are a couple of my favorite recipes I make on the regular:
This buddha bowl is freaking delicious. The secret…is it’s phenomenal “golden dressing”.
This is one of my go to smoothies that I make on a very regular basis. During the off season, just omit the pumpkin. Enjoy!
Holy crap! This soup is insane. It’s one that can be served chilled or warm.
Fellow veg heads…why did you stop eating meat? Do tell!!!
Love it. Live it. Share it.