Last week I ate a steak. I haven’t eaten meat in almost 3 years. No beef, pork or chicken or other poultry – though I never gave up fish. I never intended to become a pescetarian, it just sort of happened. There was a confluence of events that made me stop eating meat. First a New York Times Sunday Magazine issue called The Green Issue came out in April and in one article spelled out the environmental cost of beef production very simply. Since I was already carrying my reusable bags and Sigg water bottles trying to be greener it seemed only right to cut down on something that was one of the worst pollution and climate change offenders. This coupled with the disgusting stories coming out about factory farming, hormones, antibiotics and all the rest made it not too difficult to cut down on meat.
Then we had a Memorial Day weekend away that involved a 3 day meat fest. Between the barbeques, bacon breakfasts and chili bonanza I was so grossed out with the nonstop meat eating that I decided to go meat free for the next month. That became two months, then three and then a year and then two years and so on until this past Saturday night. What happened? Well, honestly I’ve been craving red meat for about a month. Really craving – like thinking about it every time I planned a meal, went to the market or went out to eat. I found myself thinking about steak all the time – it was ridiculous. And I tried every substitute I could think of. Quorn meatballs, sesame tofu, Boca Burgers. You name the “meatless” meat and I was eating it. But nothing sated that desire.
Still, I thought it would pass. Then I went out to eat with some friends and found myself staring at a small and lovely menu, but I could not bear to eat another mixed seafood entree or pasta or salad. I just couldn’t. And there it was: Steak Frites. Grass fed, locally butchered steak. Simple. So simple. A bottle of red wine was ordered and that sort of sealed the deal. My husband was genuinely worried when I ordered, convinced I’d get physically ill the moment I took a bite. But I didn’t. And it was delicious. I ate about half of it and was fine. More than fine. I felt right. And that was that.
I don’t know if or when I’ll ever eat meat again. I’m not focusing on it or ruminating. Like anything in life being too rigid or dogmatic with food puts it on a pedestal that’s not healthy either. I’m happily back to fish, veggies, fruit and way too much pasta because that’s what feels right mentally, physically and philosophically but I’m relieved that I can fall off that wagon and get right back on.