Small House Big World

Food Stuff – An Explanation of What I Like to Eat

Anna Edgren • December 4, 2014

Kelly and I are both semi-vegetarian. We are technically pescetarian, as we do eat fish and seafood.

I have been experimenting in vegetarianism since 2009, when I dated a guy who was vegan (Hi Mike, if you ever read this!). Prior to dating Mike, I had somehow managed to live 25 years of my life without ever putting together that eating meat was eating animals. And hey wait – I LOVE animals! I’m no dum-dum, I knew that pork was pig and beef was cow. But in my mind these were two very separate categories. One was food, and another was those cute animals I like to excitedly point out every time we drive by a farm.  And suddenly – my god. That beef and cheddar was so delicious, but – ew. I’m eating flesh. Well THAT’S a new way of thinking about it.

My last full meat meal was Chinese food that I was eating at work. I was munching down on some chicken when I got one of those disgusting pieces that is a little bit gristly. And all the new information I had about eating animals flooded into my mind, and I was completely grossed out. I threw the meal away, I couldn’t eat another bite. I decided that the next meal I ate I would try to skip the meat, and see how it went.

That famous first meal was at Chipotle. I got the same thing I always got – a burrito bowl with everything on it. Everything except chicken. And it was just as I’d hoped it would be – completely delicious and I didn’t miss the chicken even one little bit. I felt completely satisfied and happy with my meal. Who would have thought?!

I decided to keep after it. So the next meal I had after that was vegetarian, and so on. I was shocked by how easy it was. I didn’t miss meat at all. There are so many foods and flavors in the world that DON’T involve those 3 very common ingredients (chicken, beef, pork).  So many foods can be eaten with the same amount of enjoyment, just leaving one little thing out, or substituting something else in its place (vegetables, fake meats, tofu).

Once I had been skipping the animals for a while and was sure I could do it, I decided to really seal the deal and learn a bit more about factory farming and the whole system of processing animals in this country. (Let me warn you about getting too deep into this unless you have intentions of leaving meat behind. It is pretty horrifying.)

Ethically speaking, I personally think that it is best to be vegan. It fits most in line with the things I care about. Practically speaking, I will say I tried being vegan for a week, and it is definitely more difficult than being vegetarian, in my opinion. You have to be very careful with processed foods, they frequently have sneaky animal ingredients in them. Also, cheese is my favorite food. If I don’t eat it every 24 hours a little piece of me dies. Maybe someday I can kick my dependency, but it’s bad. So at this point in time, Practical Anna is beating out Ethical Anna. That could change, who knows.

I also started eating fish and seafood over the last couple of years. I guess on some level it makes me uncomfortable to do so, and yet I continue…  This is what’s tricky about eating animals. They are EVERYWHERE and it feels like EVERYONE eats them, they are ubiquitous. And truth be told, I hate being “the odd one out” who refuses to go along with the norm. I hate being picky. I hate being difficult. And eating this way necessarily means that I have to be difficult. Eating fish and seafood makes me slightly less difficult. I can go to any steak house and order the salmon. It also helps that I completely love seafood, and that they are a bit further down on the food chain than mammals…. Ahhh, that sweet sweet justification.

What a person chooses to eat is a personal choice, and it is one that you make over and over again, 3 times a day. I struggle with making the right choices. I don’t always eat in a way I consider to be ethical, but I do think these issues are interesting and important.  I try not to judge anyone who eats differently than me. We all have our own reasons for our choices, and that’s fine.

I do think that considering food and where it comes from is an important activity that many people continuously overlook. There is little education about where our food comes from.  As children, we are given food on a plate, and we eat it.  Most of us have little contact with farms or farmers, and when we do it is the sing-song version where every cow is happy grazing in a field and the pigs are rolling in the mud.  Transparency in the food industry is important, and that fact that so many corporations go out of their way to mask the reality of the industry from the public should be a huge and telling warning sign. The problem is, this is an issue that is easy to ignore, because we WANT to ignore it. The truth is difficult and messy, and chicken is delicious.

Information is the first step to answering these questions, and lately I feel hopeful with the rash of good movies and books that have come out about food and where it comes from. For a list of some of my favorites check here. If we inform ourselves about what we are eating and how it came from birth to our plate, maybe the picture starts to change.

When I first decided to give vegetarianism a try, it was extremely convenient to be dating a  vegan guy. He was (and presumably still is) and excellent cook. He would make fantastic and filling meals, completely vegan. Cooking vegan or vegetarian is fun – sometimes you have to think outside of the box.  I learned how to make a lot of great recipes and how to get creative with ingredients to produce familiar flavors. Kelly and I cook a lot of great meals together. We are both passionate about food. (If there were a stronger word to use here than passionate, I would. We are psychotically passionate about food, maybe? We will both get that crazy look in our eye when we talk about it.)

Over the years I have amassed some favorite recipes. I love to cook, and I love to be creative with my cooking. I usually look at 2 or 4 recipes and pick and choose my favorite ideas from each when I make a dish. Over time, this went from producing “interesting disasters” to producing some actually pretty tasty stuff!  Feel free to check out some of my recipes here.

Anna Edgren • December 4, 2014

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