Thursday, June 25, 2009

My year(s) without meat

When I started blogging, I decided that it would be best if I took a strict position against describing my dreams. I have very vivid, Lynchian, sometimes lovely, sometimes hideous and always perplexing dreams. It's rare that I don't remember what I got up to in the Land of Nod, and I really have to restrain myself from inundating poor Pat (or anyone else I come across) with my nocturnal adventures in the morning. Regardless of how interesting I think mine might be, other people's dreams are just not very interesting.

I'm so sorry, but today I'm breaking my little rule! Last night's is still right there in front of me, it was one of those dreams that is so real it's palpable. A lot happened, and I'll spare you those details, but the bit that stuck with me went like so: I was at my Dad's, he wasn't home and for whatever reason, I took a big steak out of the fridge, ripped the strip of fat off, and proceeded to cook it and eat it. The whole while knowing that I don't eat meat but not being able to stop, as though I were in some sort of trance. It made me feel ill, and a few mouthfuls in I spat it out. Then I got myself into a panic about hiding the evidence and went out to buy Dad a new steak.

What the heck was that all about?!

It's coming up to two years of going sans meat, and I admit that I really struggled that first year. I was a top-to-toe eater when it came to meat - there were a couple of things I didn't like, such as tongue and possibly eyeballs (I never tried them), and I wasn't too fond of most things that came from a pig, but give me liver or brains or sweetbreads or gizzards and I'd eat them with the same enthusiasm as I would a scotch fillet or a dozen oysters. Two of the things I missed the most were sashimi anything and daube de boeuf. I used to regularly visit Sel et Poivre in Darlinghurst and, despite the duck leg confit, the foie gras and the charcuterie, I almost always ordered the same thing: a dozen escargots, the daube with pommes purée and a crème brûlée for dessert.

Somehow, after a year of pining for the flesh of every animal imaginable - wild boar, doe, octopus, pheasant, eel! - I got over it. I stopped missing daube and raw fish, I stopped wondering if it would be okay to 'treat myself to whatever meat I wanted just once a year, on my birthday', I stopped considering Sanitarium's canned tvp as a veritable option. I'd felt like such a terrible, fraudulent vegetarian, so it was a great relief to finally feel as though I didn't miss it. I still have fleeting moments of nostalgia and sometimes I'll chat along happily about how much I liked my merguez spicy and my roast beef bloody. Occasionally I'll even pass on recipes for my old favourites, like roast chicken stuffed with preserved lemons.

Even though I'm content in my herbivorous ways nowadays, the dream I had last night would've come in much handier 2 years ago..

Anyways, here's to happy eating!


Amanda said...

Honestly, I admire your strength, Iris...I'm such a carnivore that I know I could never give it up.

Alli said...

i was a vegetarian for two years as well, but it ended when i started uni. it's so difficult to eat the right foods when you're on a budget, and sausages and the like are so cheap. but i do miss being a vegetarian at times. it's so delishously radical, don't you think?

K.Line said...

I remember my every dream too! And I used to be a vegetarian for years till I got pregnant, at which point I started eating any smoked animal in sight. Haven't lost the urge since. (Could you be pregnant!? :-))

Iris said...

@Amanda: thanks! I remember when I first became a vego, my brother commented that the meat-eating community had lost one of its most devoted members ;-)

@Alli: it's funny, in Australia the general consensus is that vegetarian food is cheaper! Well, stuff like beans and lentils. Maybe not so much the cheese splurges!

@K.Line: Oh good grief I'd better bloody not be pregnant! One is enough for me, I think (as precious and lovely as the one I have is). I still smell barbecues in summer and salivate a little :-)