Confessions of a 'Semi-Vegetarian': How I Learned to Like Red Meat

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steakI'm not sure what the final straw was. Maybe public school cafeteria food. But when I was freshman in high school, I decided enough was enough. I was too freaked out by beef -- the looks of it, the smell, I wasn't a fan of how it tasted or the texture -- and I was never going to eat red meat again. Like most kids born in the '80s, I'd grown up on Spaghetti-Os and sloppy joes. But if given my choice, I'd never ask for it. The only "red meat" that I ever wanted was bologna and that was only as a little kid (on rye bread with mayo, please!).

By 14, if Mom made stuffed peppers, steak, or burgers for dinner, I'd boycott or make my own meal. Sometimes, she'd take my preference into consideration, which was sweet. I declared myself a semi-vegetarian (but was technically a pesce-pollotarian), and I'd joke that if I married a guy who wanted steak, he could cook it himself. I wasn't going to learn. I didn't want anything to do with it. I didn't need it. Until ... I did.

Maybe it was after seeing Food, Inc., which is notorious for turning people off of meat altogether! But I learned that if I tried to eat grass-fed beef, it would be far higher quality and healthier than the scary, conventional, hormone and antibiotic-injected cows that are fed corn and other sketchtastic foods. And they say your taste buds change, right? Slowly, but surely, my nose -- and my taste buds -- weren't totally turned off of the smell of steak.

About a year or so ago, after 14 years of my personal boycott against red meat, I tried a tiny bite of my fiance's steak at Chipotle. I tried a nibble of my friend's carne asada at another Mexican restaurant. I actually bought Kosher hot dogs to put on the grill that summer. And oh no ... suddenly, I was edging into totally foreign territory. I was enjoying red meat! Occasionally eating it. I know, crazy!

But this was all while my sister was experimenting with veganism! Which made me feel like I was taking a step in the wrong direction. I should have been aiming to eliminate even MORE meat out of my diet, right? Pfft, not necessarily, said my doc. Our varied hormones and chemicals and even blood type can disposition us to benefit from different diets. Even at different times in our lives!

What I've found works is working for me is not eliminating any one ingredient or food 100 percent. Even though I've dialed back sugar a lot lately, it's not 100 percent and it'll never be. I've learned that ultimately, you should tune into your body and trust your "gut" (in every sense of the word!) to guide you to what works best. These days, my gut is happy with occasional steak. And that's completely okay.

How do you feel about red meat? Did you ever try eliminating a food from your diet but end up finding you needed to add back in?



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Coles... Coles_mom

I'm pretty much the same as you...except pickier. I decided in high school to go vegetarian, but I don't like vegetables either, I eat meat maybe once or twice a year and never chicken or pork. I can stomach red meat the best. I can only eat it if its already cooked by someone else (meaning I never see it in its raw form) and it has to be burnt beyond recognition. I want to taste char, not meat. I've found my life to be very socially depressing because people don't invite you over for dinner or come to you. I'm not demanding at all...heck, I'll put the steak on my plate and push it around with a fork. I live in the south and I'm the butt of many jokes, often to my face.

EmmaF... EmmaFromEire

People always find me weird because I'm horrendously picky about the meat i'll eat. Chicken and minced beef are pretty much all i'll eat, because I just can't stomach the taste, texture and ESPECIALLY the smell of other kinds of meat. Think by far the worst for me is lamb. I've no issues with it being an lamb, I just think it smells utterly horrific!

@coles_mom people find it tough to cook for me too, but i love cooking so i do pot luck dinners- i'll make the main and other people bring startes, dessert and wine!

Jim Corcoran

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nonmember avatar yehadut

Have you even considered the moral issues in what you're paying for when you eat meat? It's not all about you, or your gut. Check out:

Serena Shirley

I'm so sick of food propaganda! I live in a small, southern town. I am the granddaughter of a butcher, and the great-grand daughter and grand niece of farmers. I have seen how the animals are raised, and seen the slaughterhouse and been in the "cutting room." It has always been clean, and looks NOTHING like the crap they show you in those horror films they call documentaries. Most of the time they show you conditions in foreign countries, or the footage the government uses to shut these places down. There are certain health conditions that can be made worse by a vegetarian diet, just as there are some that can be made better or worse by a low carb diet. You really do have to eat the way YOUR body tells you to eat, and stop preaching diets like they're religion. Yes, treat animals well, and if you think meat isn't right for you, then don't eat it, but don't give me your sermon, or worse, someone else's sermon.

Sara T

I am also a vegetarian and eat vegan at home, but every once in a while I want a fish fry or somehting like that. I beleive I can still call myself vegetarian because I follow that diet probably 360/365 days per year. I don't kid myself, though. I know it's healthier to completely avoid animal products. You doctor who told you that blood type plays a role in your ideal diet probably had a total of 5 hours of nutritional education in his entire medical school career. That's just not true.  Read: The China Study, Eat to Live, Becoming Vegan. Plant based, whole foods diets with little to no animal products = a long life free of disease.

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