This will make sense later...
The New York Times has an article that presents vegetarianism to regular people in an honest, direct and meat-loving way. I know, it hardly seems possible, yet it's so obvious I'm shocked this is the first of its kind I've read. Since The Break-Up I've given a second thought to my diet; The Ex and I made a tradition of cooking, and we cooked amazingly delicious foods most nights. But there was a problem... The Ex did not, and I mean ever, eat vegetables unless they were in the form of sauce, ketchup or fried in oil (and even then only potatoes). I, on the other hand, loved vegetables. My body would actually crave broccoli or tomatoes when I went a couples days without any. But I compromised. And now that I don't have to I'd like to try cutting back on chicken, or cutting it out completely.
So back to the NYT: this guy Jonathan Safran Foer wrote about his struggles with meat and vegetarianism with a side of bacon in an excerpt from his upcoming book. I cut out pork in high school after The Bacon Incident left me fainting in church in front of the boy I had a crush on (I think I had already cut out beef by then) and pretty much stuck to poultry for protein. Though I know the horrors of the poultry industry (Peta is good for nothing if not making you want to vomit with their images) I still eat birds. Why? Part laziness, part poorness, part ignorance.
For nearly two years I've been allergic to avocados. I discovered this after graduating college and losing my health insurance (and the ability to find out why this most amazing fruit now makes me cry), and the dream of a San Diego vegetarian lifestyle started slipping away. My diet would require a hefty overhaul in order for it to be healthy for me to make the switch to meatlessness. Fortunately, I've been too poor to afford meat often so my meals have been vegetarian by default. I used to believe that it would be a better value to order chicken when eating out since meatless meals are usually priced the same (since when did salads start costing $15?), but lately I order vegetarian or fish to get ideas. And by golly it's working. Thanks in part to my pathetic food budget and thanks in part to The Break-Up freeing me from the necessity of meat I've begun looking towards vegetarianism in a new way, even sans avocado.
I've been learning a lot about the consequences of my food decisions. Palm oil is pretty much the worst thing in the world because its production causes so much habitat destruction for countless species, and coffee is terrible for the same reason (buy shade grown!). I learned that eel is farmed at great cost to the environment and you can choose your meal based on the healthiest option for the Earth. I've already started making some conscious decisions about what I eat; but I'm still a total hypocrite for advocating animal rights and eating mass produced chicken.
Foer's excerpt discusses the importance of meat in traditions and the difficulty in participating in tradition without those foods. My family always had Holiday Food for holiday breakfasts: Eggs Benedict. At one point all of us kids didn't eat pork, which frustrated the hell out of our mom. Now it's just me (again) and I don't really care for Eggs Benedict but I'll eat a poached egg on toast to make her happy. The Catholic celebration of Lent is still tradition for me, despite my departure from Catholicism, and it requires abstaining from all meat except fish on Fridays (which really soured The Ex, who also does not eat fish, ever times infinity). I think this year I'll "give up" chicken for Lent and forgo fish on Fridays. If that works I'll be well on my way to eating the way I've wanted to for a long time.
Rather than being vegetarian or pescetarian, I'd like to be opportunitarian, like Costello. He hunts for fish but he'll also scavenge for whatever someone else left behind. I'd like to make my meals of sustainable fish and vegetables (and shit loads of rice... no matter how poor I am I'll always have rice and canned tomatoes) but if someone offers me chicken or pork or even beef that would otherwise go to waste I'll happily eat it so the creature didn't die in vain. Someday, when I have a house, I'll keep a chicken coop so I'll always have fresh eggs. People appreciate presents of fresh eggs and everyone can feel good about eating eggs that come from a pet, rather than a farm stuffed with caged hens.