20 June 2007

a shameful regression

I've been an on and off vegetarian pretty much as long as I've been conscious of the world around me. For a time as a kid my choice not to eat meat was simply that — a choice with little reason. I didn't crave it so why eat it. Once in a while my parents would BBQ some burgers or grill some chicken with garlic and hickory salt and I'd latch on to some of it. Some of the times I'd break down and eat meat just-the-one-time, others for a couple months at a time, and I think once for at least a year, maybe more. At some point though, the meat would lose its enticing whatever it was, and I'd stop eating it without hesitation or regret.

As I got older I found the conflict of killing an animal to feed myself at the forefront of my decision. I suppose I always felt this in some way, but finally it had become the reason I would be a vegetarian. Much to the chagrin of my parents and relatives that I visited. "No no, I'll be just fine with these green beans and buttered bread. Really, I don't want any [insert meat product here]." Heck, I didn't want anyone's help for anything, let alone some creature giving up it's life for me.

Some years ago I found myself divorced, alone and living as I do naturally in a single person's habitat without that in-home influence. It was easy to once again become a vegetarian, and I became a staunch one at that. This time I cut meat, milk, eggs and other products that I no longer craved or wanted. I don't think I'm cut out to be a vegan though and I found some of these cuts harder to make than others. In particular cheese. There is just no substitute. I've found some soy products that are starting to taste a bit like cheese, but not close enough! And, at the point soy starts to look like cheese I wonder what mishmash of processing has been needed to make it so. I was fine and dandy with keeping cheese as my single vice.

Enter the regression. About a year ago, early April, I took a business trip to Reno. I was there with a business cohort and knew many people there from around the country but a few of the nights it was nice to head out on my own. Problem being, the hotel (the Reno Hilton - it's huuuge!) is an oasis of it's own. Sure there were ten some restaurants to choose from surrounding the game floor, but the seclusion left little for recreation or variety. I took thrilling walks around the interior of the hotel and to the farthest reaches of the parking lot. That said, this vegetarian didn't have much food from which to choose. I had walked past all the restaurants this one evening at least three times trying to find and fill my craving. Finally it hit. The hamburgers and fries at Johnny Rockets caught my attention. Five minutes of hesitation and pacing finally landed me at one of their red sparkly booths ordering a greasy mushroom-swiss burger, fries and a milk shake. Hey, if I'm going do it, I'm going to do it right!

Gut bomb!!! My stomach didn't know what to do with the stuff, but it finally worked through everything in the following days.

Since April, I've had spots of meat, nothing grand until one fine day, a very hungry, energy draining, athletic sort of day I needed to have, had to have, craved, wanted and lusted for meat. A quick trip to a local BBQ house and a set of baby back ribs later I was satisfied. Damn, it was good! That set of ribs left me wanting for more and I've ended up eating more meat in the last four months than I've had all total in the decade preceeding my regression. Now, I still eat much less meat than most people I know, but for me, it's a lot. Someday, I'll probably push meat from my diet once again, but for now... I'm enjoying it far too much. Fish is tops on my list. Tasty little swimmers.

Tonight's dinner: BBQ'd beef baby back ribs. This time on my grill.

Gut bombs in Reno look like this...
The documented remains of my breaking point.

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