It's a while since I posted because I've been busy with writing things for my MA portfolio/dissertation, but it didn't take me long after my last post to make my final decision about whether or not to give up being a vegetarian. As I said in that post, I had been thinking about it for a long time, although I hadn't told anyone. I have made the decision to break my twenty year meat fast, and have surprised many with my decision. I thought my mum wouldn't be quite so surprised because I'd talked a little about it with her while we were away together, but she really was. She still is. My brother, M, has been surprised but more supportive than I could have imagined.
There were many reasons I came to the decision I have, some of which I talked about in my previous post, some of which I touched on. I'm not going to go through them again, but I do think I've come to the right decision for me at this time. It still surprises me when I look in the mirror and I suddenly think, 'Hey, you're not vegetarian any more,' because it's been part of my identity for twenty years - all of my adult life. The rest of the time it's felt like a new adventure.
I have no idea how to cook meat so I've been buying cook books from here, there, and everywhere. Having said that, the fishmonger has been really helpful the couple of times I've been there, and the butcher at the farm shop was also helpful, if a little perplexed (even though I had explained it to him).
Once I'd made my decision to eat meat again I thought it would be a good idea to see if I could get an appointment with the dietician at the immunology department. It took several days to get to speak to her on the phone, but she was very helpful and is very happy to see me face-to-face, although it means getting a re-referral from my GP as it's over a year since I was seen in the immunology department. The referral is now going through, but in the meantime the dietician said that one of the main pieces of advice is that as a general rule I should never eat meat bought from a supermarket because of the added colourings and preservatives. I also can't have any cured meat (unless I cure it myself). I did in fact speak to the butcher at one of the big supermarkets nearby. I won't name the supermarket chain, but the butcher did tell me that they do dye a lot of their meats. Even the organic meats, which arrive at the shop unadulterated, but then the supermarket themselves add the dye. They can still sell the meat as organic, because that is how it has been reared and prepared, up until the point of arrival in the shop. I don't know about you, but I think that's diabolical.
Before I became vegetarian I never enjoyed holding raw meat, but I've done a lot of reading in recent times, and one of the books I've read is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's 'Meat' book. In it he talks a lot about the ethics of eating meat, and says that if an animal dies for us to eat then we have a responsibility to treat it with the respect that it deserves (it says a lot of other things too and is worth reading). I've born this in mind when I've been handling fish and chicken - the only two meats I've eaten so far - and haven't had that thought of 'Eurgh, this is disgusting,' that I used to have. It is, after all, still just the animal that was walking around in the field, or swimming in the sea/river, before and that I respected. I'm going to be trying lamb tomorrow, and I'm hoping that I'll feel the same way with that too. I can't see any reason why I wouldn't.
It's taking a bit of getting used to having meat in my mouth again. It's the texture, not the taste, and the weird feeling of having my teeth kind of stuck together by the food that I'm eating. But so far as the taste is concerned, I've liked it. So far I've had trout, salmon, sole, and chicken, but I'm very much still learning how to cook any of it, although the advice I've had from the fishmonger and farm shop butcher has been spot on.
I think this is going to be an interesting journey. It may not always be entirely comfortable, but that'll be for me to consider along the way. At the moment I think I've made the right decision for me, not least because I've just been diagnosed as anaemic again. I'm sick of taking endless tablets, and whilst there's not a lot I can do about taking almost all of them, I can try to help myself with my iron levels, and maybe not have to rely on iron tablets for too long.