Fourteen years ago I stopped eating meat. That's right. Mississippi born, living in the land of fried food, chitterlings, ham hocks & barbecue...and pescatarian. I swear it feels like a meat lovers paradise. But I gave it up.
Was it hard?
Nah. Not really. I was never much of a meat eater.
I grew up eating whatever came to the table. Sometimes it was rabbit, deer but mainly vegetables. My paternal Grandmother's collard greens were unbelievably good. I remember crying after Mom told me I had eaten raccoon. I always had this mystical vision of raccoons being furry little love bugs I could keep in my bedroom. Not tender surrounded by potatoes, carrots & gravy.
But yes souls. Black girl pescatarian here, and I’m happy.
My Mom says I am crazy. What sensible person doesn't eat meat? I get that from family, friends, even strangers during casual conversations. It's a subject I at one time would keep to myself. I got tired of explaining how I could live without meat. I mean this is Mississippi, a state with some of the highest numbers of persons with diabetes, cholesterol, obesity...and well churches.
Speaking of churches we have astronomical HIV and Aids rates while having a dozen organizations educating & advocating safe interactions & prevention. Hmmmm....
I try to stay clear of processed meat substitutes although I do use a crumbled meat replacement. Someone recently asked me why do I eat something that reminds me of meat when I don't eat meat? I kindly explained (raising an eyebrow) that there is no rule book on pescatarian eating. I also explained that I wasn't attempting to "liken" my food to meat but rather enhance it. People get comfortable and brave on social media. They start commenting and forget about these hands. Just kidding...but you catch my drift.
My kids aren't buying it. They long ago moved into their own dwellings and remind me that I used to cook meat and that I should continue to do so when visiting or vice versa. The nerve... LoL
I eat fish. Not often but I do eat it. I'm in awesome shape for fifty four and I rarely get sick. I don't take flu shots EVER and I haven't had a cold in almost six years. I am on zero medications so there must be something to eliminating meat from my life. Speaking of "life" I recently explained to a friend it's not a diet. It's a lifestyle. When you stop eating meat be prepared for change in perceptions, friendships and even religious affiliations. Everything changes for the better.
The good side about not eating meat:
The conversations. Vegans and pescatarian spirits love, love, love to talk about food. We have warm, illustrated chats about recipes, avoiding meat sneaky products, reading food labels. It's so spiritual. I promise it goes on for hours. Conversation about anything these days is brief due to social media addiction but when one of us starts chatting. Whew chile!
The bad side about not eating meat:
Holidays. As I am writing this Thanksgiving and Christmas are fast approaching, none of which I celebrate anymore. But that's another story.
Of course Momma, Grandma, Auntie "whoever" PLUS the neighbor will have several hams, turkeys and greens filled with ham hocks awaiting our arrival. Try telling one of these gifted cooks you don't eat meat. Get ready for some crazy conversations. Ohhhh and the macaroni and cheese. Yassss! I struggle with dairy. Sh** I like cheese. I can't even lie. I recently found a recipe duplicating cheese with cashews & a few other choice ingredients. I'll post when I try it.
I'm not sure I'll ever be completely vegan. Not ready to stop eating fish just yet. I am not posting this to encourage anyone to let the meat go. I was actually thinking today about something a woman said about me a few years ago. She turned to another black woman and said, "Ignore her. She's not one of us." I asked her what she meant. She said she meant that I don't eat meat and I speak funny. I thought about it for a minute before proceeding to let her a** have it. I guess I am different.
I live in a city with churches on every corner but a high birth and STD rate. I live in a city which is becoming more health conscious. Wait, conscious period. But we still eat ourselves into a grave. If she meant I have a different southern twang to my speech it's because I lived in Oklahoma many years. If she meant because I don't eat meat I am not the typical fried chicken, pork chop seducing black woman. Well... I'm not. But what I am is a woman who has grown into herself who doesn't need or require someone else to define me. Clean eating has done a number on building my confidence.
As for me being single... You really don't want to hear that story. Please comment if you are vegan, pescatarian or a meat lover. Share your thoughts! I want to hear from you.
The Kitchen Poet