Meat dreams are made of these
Who am I to disagree?
I am definitely a carnivore. Growing up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan can have that effect. Out there there’s not a lot of selection when it comes to the produce aisle. You get what’s in season and that’s it.
Moving to Calgary in 2003 changed everything and my love affair with fruit and vegetables truly began. Watermelon year-round? Yes, please.
Last month, which I have affectionately termed meatless March, was my first honest attempt to be a vegetarian. I briefly contemplated going vegan for the month, but vegan March doesn’t have the same ring to it, and I love cheese. There was no way I was parting with milk products in general.
For the most part, I eat fairly well. I am conscious of the things I put into my body, and how good (or bad) they are. Since I already eat a large portion of fruits and vegetables, I wasn’t too worried about going 31 days without delicious animal flesh.
The idea of meatless March started with a suggestion from a friend of mine, probably as some sort of social experiment. Taking the idea and running with it, I successfully recruited two other women in my program at MRU to join in my endeavor.
Meatless March is about not eating meat. Maybe a trip or two to the grocery store to prepare, but nothing serious. We’re not talking about going gluten-free or vegan here, we’re talking about choosing to not cook the pound of bacon in your fridge, and eating some carrot sticks instead.
Or so I thought.
The first few days were a breeze, but then I got lazy. As a student, sleep sometimes takes priority over taking 15 minutes to make a lunch to take to school. Instead of being super productive and whatnot, I chose to develop a close relationship with my snooze button.
To fill the void of protein in my diet, I would often eat junk food and drink more and more coffee. These behaviors were not only a campus activity, but also at home.
I found myself pacing my kitchen, repeatedly opening cupboards and the fridge, hoping some sort of delicious non-meat miracle would appear. I usually settled for chocolate. If I was feeling particularly guilty, I would eat some celery.
About a week in to meatless March, I started having dreams about meat: succulent steaks, hot, greasy bacon and mouth-watering gravy. This happened at the same time I started watching season two of The Walking Dead, and so the dreams about zombies and meat began. I felt like a monster.
Instead of giving in to a delicious slice of prime rib, I took to the Internet. Emails and links poured in from friends and family, encouraging me to press on. The advice I received from current and former vegetarians was an incredible asset.
In discussing my choice to be vegetarian with a former professor on campus, he recommended quinoa and to try Vegemite. The vegemite, he said, had a bit of a metallic taste to it, which would satisfy my “craving for flesh.” This explains the zombie/meat dreams.
The iron in the blood of animals is something that newfound vegetarians sometimes struggle with. I never purchased Vegemite over the last month, but I still might give it a try, to see what the fuss is all about.
Taking to the grocery aisles, I found a lot of options to replace meat in my diet, like soy ground beef, or vegetarian chicken strips. The chicken fingers were actually delicious, and tasted almost exactly like chicken.
The soy ground beef worked well in vegetarian chili, but on its own — in tacos or western-style omelets — was vomit inducing. The soy flavor was too overpowering for my palate. I chose to stick with beans, yogurt and eggs as my major protein sources.
To mark the end of my meatless endeavor, I celebrated success with Mediterranean-style chicken kabobs on April 1. They were delicious, but not earth shatteringly awesome.
In retrospect, meatless March was an interesting experiment on myself, but I will not be completely giving up meat anytime soon. Bring it on bacon, I’ve missed you.