The story about the meat eating.

So I’m eating chicken nowadays.

It all started back in Pennsylvania. I was staying with a very kind elderly couple. I originally planned to just camp in their yard and be off in the early dawn, but they would have none of that! They’d get up early if they had to, but we were having a hearty breakfast and saying a proper goodbye before I left. Well, turns out the next day was calling for both severe heat and severe thunder storms. Mary and Phillip decided it wasn’t safe for Anna and I to go out and insisted I stay with them for another day. I could spend the day doing laundry and relaxing, and they even invited me in to sleep on a real bed that night.

So I spent the day with them, helping Mary with groceries and errands, and talking to Phillip about his interesting family history. That night we were having leftovers for dinner, spaghetti with sauce. I didn’t think anything of it until I was helping Mary prepare and realized that sauce = meatsauce with hamburger all through it and the pasta already mixed in.

Now, you’re probably thinking I could have just spoken up and passed on the pasta and made due with salad and bread. What you’re not realizing is the personality I was dealing with. Mary would not have been offended at all if I had spoken up, but she also wouldn’t have been satisfied with me just having salad and bread. She would have insisted on getting out a whole other meal and probably making something from scratch.

And you’re probably thinking that’s not so big a deal, but what else you’re not realizing is the age of Mary and Phillip. Think great-grandparents.

They were actually about a month away from moving into an assisted living community, which they both had mixed feelings about. They realized they couldn’t keep up with the large house and yard (I think it was 10 acres), but they had lived in that house for years, raised a family there, and put a lot of sweat and heart into renovating it. However, they both realized that they couldn’t live on their own anymore and were somewhat looking forward to the relief of having a supported living arrangement.

So if I had refused the spaghetti, this somewhat frail yet super kind old lady would have put up a fuss and gone about arranging a whole other meal for me, of which she probably wouldn’t let me help much, and of which would have dirtied a whole other set of dishes that she wouldn’t let me wash. So all in all it was just easier to pick around the bigger chunks of hamburger and suck it up and eat the meatsauce.

It was a little sad, as it had been about ten years going that I hadn’t eaten any meat. But early on in this trip I had resigned myself to the idea that by the end I would have eaten meat again. I’m not the healthiest vegetarian, which is fine for a regular semi-lazy lifestyle, but that just doesn’t work for an active walking-across-the-country lifestyle.

I’m not eating meat at every turn, and I still tell people that I don’t eat meat – or at least only eat white meat/chicken. But every now and then at a store in the middle of nowhere that has very little options I’ll go ahead and get some chicken fingers or a chicken salad and share it with Anna.

And I gotta tell you, I definitely notice the difference in hunger satisfaction and energy levels on those days.

Note: my reasons for not eating meat are not due to me being against eating animals in general, but more of a political stand against the way the American meat industry is run. I still disagree with the way the meat industry is here in America, but if it comes down to my own personal health and survival I’ve always said I’d eat meat. I prefer not to, but you gotta do what you gotta do to keep yourself safe and healthy. Also, I just don’t like most meat.

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5 thoughts on “The story about the meat eating.

  1. I am both proud and unsurprised that you did the kindest thing in this situation, Kelly. And that your energy level is up after a high protein meal? Also not surprised. I totally support both your reasons for not eating meat and your need to do so during this trip. You don’t need to make excuses for being a good person.

    FWIW.

    Laureen

  2. Thanks for posting this. While it is a completely personal decision on your part, I appreciate your openness. It’s helpful when people are willing to discuss their decisions. I think what you are doing is “walking the middle path” with respect for yourself and others. Very wise.

  3. I remember this one time, my mom made me mac & cheese when I was vegetarian but not yet vegan. It had worcestershire sauce in it, but I ate it anyway to spare her feelings. I don’t do that anymore. Sometimes, it’s hard to be firm and tell people that I won’t eat whatever they’re sticking in front of my nose because it has traces of nonfat milk powder or whatever. But, much like you wouldn’t force wheat bread on a celiac or cupcakes on a diabetic, I don’t feel anyone, no matter how nice, how old, how frail, how pushy, is entitled to force non-vegan food on me.

    Anyway, you’re obviously much nicer than I am. I’d probably die in the middle of the country somewhere.

  4. Mary and Phillip sound like the grandparents we all wish we had. You were absolutely right to choose the kinder path and take their gift to you in the spirit that it was intended. Also, you are traversing the part of the country that is not widely known for abundance of vegetarian choices and walking many many hours a day, for days on end, requires sufficient nutrients to not only provide energy, but to help repair muscle tissue and just generally keep you in good trim. Of course, if the food is going to harm you, such as the examples @Susie cites, there is nothing wrong with refusing it, but in this situation, your choice was kinder, ultimately did not do you any lasting harm. Well done.

  5. I think, in the case of diet (when it’s a choice, and not an allergy or for medical reasons), it’s best to do what you’re doing. On the one hand, the host (or parent, etc.) should respect the dietary choices their guests (or children, etc) and try to feed them the type of food they prefer to eat, but on the other hand, the guest should be polite and eat what is offered, if at all possible. It’s the gracious thing to do, for both parties!

    In that situation, I think you made the best choice. Good for you!

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