Friday, July 2, 2010

I'm "game"

It is the World Cup AND Wimbledon, so why not write about sports? Except that this game has NOTHING to do with sports.
Shew, what a week! It's been rough to 'get into the swing of things' this summer. You know, the summer school class that meets for two hours a day and then leaves me with endless time to mindlessly read random websites until I decide that I need a nap. The nap - Seriously. I love to nap, and summer offers up the perfect opportunity to indulge in one of my favorite 'hobbies'. I believe that I could win a gold for my 'napping' experiences.
(Apologies, by the way, to anyone whom I've offended by waxing almost-poetically about napping)

It's funny because this is the first week that I feel that summer vacation has officially started. The trip out to Colorado definitely fit into that "trip" model rather than the "vacation" model. Not that it wasn't great to be there, the conference/seminar and the trip out and back aside. I spent the last few days there in Boulder, a place where I would love to live one of these days, but if that can't happen, then I'll just continue to visit on a regular basis. It's a *great* university town where one can definitely pursue an active outdoorsy lifestyle (the type of lifestyle to which I aspire but do not quite meet).

Part of that "outdoorsy" lifestyle seems to also include or incorporate a sustainable/green living attitude, which I also have in mind but for which I don't necessarily make great sacrifices. Being around people who compost and garden and buy goat's milk and make their own cheese... Well, it inspires me to a certain degree, but then it also makes me defensive about my own lifestyle. Obviously I need to "get over it", but I feel that certain individuals are smug without reason or right, whereas I wallow in guilt about the fact that I use the clothes dryer in our house, don't compost or recyle and have a penchant for new clothes.

However, I don't feel UNBEARABLY guilty about the fact that I am a meat eater. I admire people who are vegetarians, I usually buy meat that is from a local butcher, I look at where my fish is from and what type of fish it is, but I am not sure if I could ever give up meat. Maybe I should for a month or so, just to practice. And Michael and I will eat vegetarian meals for several days in a row, but we are not overly conscientious about vegetarianism. Again, the pang and twinge of guilt!
Not to shed all sense of personal responsibility, I do blame this complete omnivorism on my part on the fact that I was in 4-H for several years and had to raise two lambs. That experience completely left me devoid of a great bastion of empathy for animals, despite the fact that I did win a ribbon for showmanship one year (if you don't know that that means, email me). My dogs, that's a different matter in terms of animal-human-relationships. I still remember being 12 years old (or so) and running all around my yard so that my lamb could "make weight" for the local livestock show. Talk about a negative experience! Michael has his own negative childhood animal experience, growing up with pigs and goats and coming to hate both of them, to a degree.

In addition to being in 4-H, I come from a family of hunters. Not that I have killed an animal (sent it off across the auctioning block, absolutely!).... I actually learned WHY I found hunting so distasteful last week when I was at that conference. It had nothing to do with my compassionate spirit. When I was a small child, my parents took me hunting, and I couldn't tolerate the sound of the guns going off. Believe it or not, girls hear better than boys, so noises that don't necessarily upset/disturb/frighten boys have a stronger affect on girls. I happened to cry and cover my ears when the guns were going off, which did not promote good hunting!
But anyway, I grew up eating venison, quail and dove that my father and brothers hunted and the animals that we unfortunately raised. The venison and the lamb tended to be overly strong and very "gamey", and I remember lying to friends who came to my house to eat. They would ask what the meat was, I would lie, they would ask for ketchup and my father would have a mild fit. Keeping all of that in mind, it wasn't until later in life when I ate tender venison and lamb that I realized how mouth-watering GOOD these could be.

So, I am an unapologetic but sometimes guilty-feeling carnivore. That said, I do try to make good choices when it comes to meat, fish and fowl. So, when Michael's brother and sister-and-law suggested a place to buy bison, we jumped at the chance. After getting lost in a small town in Colorado, we finally called the place (twice?) and found a meat-eater's paradise known as "Rocky Plains". It was almost in the middle of nowhere, and we walked into a small room that held the Holy Grail of game. Controlling ourselves, we stocked up on plenty of bison and elk, excited to use the meat over the next few weeks/months.

Transporting the meat BACK to Los Angeles from Colorado seemed to be a no-brainer for us - put the meat in the cooler that we had with lots of ice. Unfortunately, by the time we returned to LA and checked out the cooler, the meat had begun the defrost process. In a panic, we devised a play to cook ALL the meat over the course of the next few days, eat some of it and freeze the rest. We soon came to our senses and decided that we could probably freeze some of it again without major harm. Still, we worked our way through a pound of elk and a pound of bison. With the elk, we made some really great burgers with blue cheese (!), and then we made lasagna with the bison. The burgers and the lasagna were super tasty, or maybe I just convinced myself of their goodness? Despite that last thought, I do think that cooking with meat such as bison or elk is a better experience thanks to the quality of the food.
So, maybe I won't give up meat altogether, but processed beef... Why not?

I know that there are plenty of people who give up meat for a range of different reasons, but for those who are environmentally conscious AND omnivores, how to play both sides?
And for those who are vegetarian, I would love to know your story (if there is "a story) too.


Anonymous said...

You shouldn't feel guilty about eating meat! It is definitely one's own decision to eat or not to eat it...I personally don't but Ali and Maya do, and I even cook it for them. I want them to make their own decisions about it.

My reasons for not eating meat...I read a couple of books that really got me thinking about things - Skinny Bitch (stupid title, excellent book) and Quantum Wellness. The first book uncovered the meat industry for me, the second made me think more in depth about things like "you are what you eat."

Anyway, I simply couldn't go back to eating meat after reading those books back to back. But I do eat fish 1-2 X a month so I guess I am not a 100% real vegetarian!

Jaya said...

Kristina - I feel equally/more lucky to have come across your blog! I was a vegetarian for 6 years and I gave up vegetarianism for almost the opposite reason - when I started training in a high performance program, I craved meat. At the same time, my father (a non-egg-eating vegetarian of 25 years) had to take up eating eggs to build strength through chemotherapy, so we ate eggs together and as I watched him tearfully consume it, I realized how important it was for me stick to my eating intuition. Like you, I'm now a fully converted omnivore, but I can totally relate to the occasional guilt. I really believe in eating the way that allows you to care for yourself best. Even the Dalai Lama and staunch Buddhists talk about the primacy of self-care as the first step toward making a better world. I think you're doing an amazing job of balancing your interests :)