A Bunch of Bull
Why Being a Vegetarian was a Bunch of Bull for my family
Raised by vegetarian parents I often felt like the odd one out. Potlucks, restaurants and eating at friends was always so awkward.
“Is there any meat product in this delicious looking dish?”
“Was the crust made with lard?”
“DId you cut my sub with that meat knife that cut through subs with meat in them?”
We were pretty hard core.
As if childhood isn’t difficult enough, to me this felt like an extra burden no child should have to bear.
Please don’t get me wrong. My parents were doing the best for me that they knew. Mom wanted to be the very best mom and help us be so healthy.
When it was time for us to bring snacks to my baseball team it was hand rolled coconut and who knows what balls. My face flushed as I would try to hand these out to the guys who politely said no thanks. Eventually mom got the picture and started buying normal snacks like pretzels and juice. It had to be 100% juice though!
In high school I never signed up to bring food to anything until that one fateful day.
Always a little scrawny, especially next to my best friend, the two of us decided to start weight lifting. He had a whole set up in his basement and as was often the case his mom invited me to stay for dinner when we were done lifting. I was famished. She always made sure there were non meat options for me but this night they were having steak. It looked so amazing and I had never even tried meat before. I think George’s parents felt terribly sorry for me and as I sat practically drooling his dad could take it no longer.
“Greg, I respect your parents and all. But you are 16 years old. Would you like to try a steak? I have a really nice juicy one right here for you. “
He didn’t need to ask me twice. I felt daring and rebellious and excited. It smelled so amazing. Biting into that tender morsel was the most delicious moment in my entire life. I couldn’t imagine why my parents had been depriving us of such joy all these years. I decided then and there that I was not a vegetarian. I was an omnivore.
Thanks to my mom, I had a wide repertoire of fruits, vegetables and grains that I loved. And thanks to George’s dad, I discovered they paired beautifully with all sorts of meat.
I marched home that night and had a long talk with the folks. I told them that I was no longer a vegetarian and guess what? They respected my decision. Mom seemed disappointed but to her credit she took it well.
My decision to raise chickens and a young bull calf on our 10 acre farm was a bit harder for her to embrace.
As I presented new and different information from my own research I was amazed that my parents were actually receptive to changing their diet. Reluctantly they added in chicken and fish and cut way back on their pasta consumption. Dad lost almost 50 pounds that year and my siblings often confided that I had saved the family.
We transitioned as a family to a sustainable omnivore diet and when I had my bull butchered the whole family celebrated by eating their first ever roast beef.
We still have vegetarian days but they no longer involve massive amounts of gluten, soy and pasta. It’s beans, grains and tons of vegetables. And we have beef days, chicken days and fish days. My youngest brother discovered he is a great fisherman and now that there is a family market for his delicious fare he regularly visits the local rivers and lakes bringing us a healthy string of fish.
I am not opposed to a healthy vegetarian diet. It works for some people around the world. In the case of my family, we are much healthier and happier now and I think we have found a reasonable balance. In our case it really did turn out to be a bunch of bull.