When people find out I have given up meat, they understandably want to know why. There are countless others out there on the same journey, as well as, plenty unfamiliar with the lifestyle and that’s okay! I practice a Pescatarian diet. For me, that means I do not eat any animal that walks on land. I went from four legs, to two, to zero land animals. I also do not drink or use cow milk however, I do eat cheese. So basically, my meat is seafood. My choice wasn’t about saving animals, as much as I am disgusted by the treatment and when I used to think about what I was eating, it would gross me out to a degree but, it never stopping me from ordering a chicken parm hero or throwing down a decent sized well-done cheeseburger with pickles.
I guess, I should start from the beginning. I’ve always been a picky eater. No … really. From a child, my relationship with food has been odd; always with a large appetite but unless I loved the food I was eating, its been a chore. I’ve never really been a big meat-eater. Breakfast has always been a dream come true. In the mornings before middle school, I used to get a sausage and cheese on a plain toasted bagel from the deli. More often than not, I bought lunch to school and sometimes would buy fries and a Snickers ice cream bar from the cafeteria. In high school, we left for lunch so I would go to The Med (think of Saved By The Bell’s hangout The Max — same vibe) and order chicken tenders and fries with a ginger ale … everyday.
Also, I have a thing about textures; they have to be “right” to me which means, I want the flavor but not the texture. For example, tomatoes. I do not like the texture of tomatoes but loved the taste of ketchup, marina sauce, etc. I do not like the texture of onions unless they are finely chopped but, I love the flavor so I usually use onion powder on everything. The same goes for garlic and many, many others. I know, it’s strange. But, the foods I loved to eat like chicken, fruits, cereals, breads, PIZZA, creamy pasta (you get the gif) I would eat often. I was eating chicken so much I was able to tell the difference in “good” chicken and “bad” chicken. Sickening! It got to a point where I knew what I was ordering everywhere I went and basically had the same meals every week. *Kanye shrugs*
First, I eliminated burgers from my diet. Every time I ate beef, I would have the worst stomach ache! That wasn’t hard to do at all. The only time I really ate beef was when I was having the occasional craving or it was Taco Tuesday, and even with tacos, I mostly ate chicken. I probably ate chicken, multiple times a day. Which is why this was by far the hardest thing to give up yet (I say yet because I will soon be giving up CHEESE! Lord, be with me. I’m already starting to sweat thinking about the withdrawals.) But, the reason I gave up chicken was because, like I said, I was eating it so much, I was able to tell the difference in if the meat was good quality or not. Sometimes I would bite into it and get a big chunk of gristle and fat. When I would order chicken as takeout, I was starting to get sick. It was just getting bad and grossing me out, making an already tedious task, even more difficult.
But, the though of giving up chicken was so unnerving. It was such a substantial staple in my diet. What was I going to do? Thinking can I afford to eat seafood the way I was eating chicken? I often felt like seafood did not fill me up so I was worried I would have to each much more in quantity and that would get expensive. Hey, I’m on a budget over here! Still, I knew if I gave it too much thought, I would second guess myself out of the idea so, I just dove in head first. Honestly, I haven’t looked back since. It’s actually been well over a year since I started this diet change. I can’t give you an exact time because it wasn’t anything I planned for, it kind of just happened. One day I was eating meat, the next day I was intentionally not buying, cooking or ordering meat. It was easier than I thought.
Now, let me be honest. Since I did not make this change for any moral reasons, I have tried to indulge in a burger or chicken sandwich or two. However, I do not know if it was because so much time since my last attempt but, they never settled well in my stomach since I made the change. Actually, the last time I tried chicken I threw up! (TMI, sorry!) At this point, it’s not worth it.
Right now, my diet is mainly Pescatarian but slowly #transitioningtovegan. Keyword: Slowly. Weirdly, I don’t eat pasta as much as I thought I would. Though, I’m making sure to eat filling foods like potatoes and rice and get my veggies in so I’m usually eating string beans or broccoli with my meals. For now, its lots of seafood. Fish does fill me up — surprise, surprise. I’ve tried to venture out a bit more and try other types of fish besides just tilapia. I’ve been eating flounder and catfish has become a fav. Shrimp is definitely my new chicken. It’s been the best replacement. I can eat it just as often. In the Summer, shrimp and cheese quesadillas were a staple. The cheese was probably made from a cow; not very Pescatarian like but, that’s the next food I’m working eliminating.
I find that this lifestyle transition can be very overwhelming. As much as I want to be vegan and make all of my meals from scratch and use organic produce straight from the market. Hell, I eventually want to have a garden where I grow my own foods and snap veggies on a porch in front of my house. But, I am not there yet and if I try to meet that lifestyle goal now then 1) I won’t appreciate the journey and 2) I probably won’t make it. Dis tew much!
If you’re on this journey or thinking about this journey, here’s a beginner tip I’ve learned and practice. Because chicken was such a major part of my diet, I still crave it. Especially the convenience of chicken tenders. Oh, man! I had to outsource a frozen (I know, the horror!) “chicken” tender that would feed my cravings! I found one! I’ll do a whole review on that later. They’re so good! Now that I have found a version I like, my next step is to figure out how to make them on my own. But, first I had to just get my cravings tended to! Baby steps.
I’m still on the hunt for a non-black bean burger but, I may have to train my taste buds to enjoy the beans. If you know of something else, please share!! The hunt is real. I miss melting cheese over a burger on a toasted bun with cold pickles and squirts and swirls of ketchup! It’s the little things that we do not realize how we would miss so much! Oh boy, I tell ya! But, the rewards are so worth it. I feel better. I feel lighter. I feel more energetic. I feel more balanced over all. And it’s making eating more fun than it’s ever been before. I actually enjoy it. I guess I was eating all the wrong foods my whole life. It just wasn’t working for me before. Now, it is! (That may sound funny but, its my truth.) This was just a personal choice. So is taking a break from my burger hunt to getting this cheese elimination going. Wish me luck, people!
Until next time,