Monday, May 16, 2011

Food and Me: A History

I grew up eating pretty well. My family were omnivores, and the vast majority of our meals were home-cooked, mostly from scratch, and included a lot of vegetables. For years it was my job to make the salads we had most nights with dinner. I grew to love vegetables, and I still prefer them to fruits!

Somewhere around middle school I got it into my head to become a vegetarian. I had two vegetarian friends, and I admired them a lot, so I just decided one day that I'd be one too. I think I had convinced myself that it had to do with moral reasons, but mostly I think it was a mixture of teenage rebellion and honest admiration of some beloved friends. I stayed a vegetarian for about five years, from middle school to the first few years of college.

Though I stayed very committed to the vegetarian lifestyle (and would interrogate people about things like casein and chicken broth content!), I never really learned how to cook vegetarian meals. I still do not know how to cook tofu. My mom never added a vegetarian option to most of our dinners, so I mainly subsisted on carbs and vegetables. I totally don't blame her for that I'm a mom I can only imagine how hard it would be to plan and cook two separate dinners!

Sometime in my early college years I decided to start eating meat again. I can't point to an exact reason, other than at the time I was dating a boy who'd grown up on a dairy farm, and was getting tired of all the teasing that went on (luckily it was good-natured teasing)! I think I also was at a loss to really feel any real connection to my choice of a vegetarian diet, because I hadn't chosen it out of any strong conviction as a teen.

So, for about eight years now, I've been an omnivore.

Until the past few weeks. For some reason, the thought of meat has been really grossing me out. I can't really point to a specific reason. Maybe it's the increase in the price of meat I've noticed lately. Maybe it is because we can only occasionally afford organic or sustainably farmed meat. Maybe I'm tired of worrying whether the meat is cooked through, and I'm weary of messing with a meat thermometer.

So, for now, we're eating vegetarian, and...I feel like I'm falling in love with an old friend for the first time. I have much more access to alternative "meats," interesting cookbooks, and peer support than I did as a young teenager. I really hope I can keep this up, as I feel really good physically and emotionally about this decision. I need to do more research into raising kids vegetarian, but I have a lot of optimism about the subject. Our pediatrician outright told me that her healthiest patients are being raised as vegetarians.

I hope you'll stay with me on my journey this week as I explore my relationship with food through a series of blog posts about meal planning, shopping, cooking, and more!

See you again soon!

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