Folks on the keto diet are easy to point out because they tell you every damn five minutes that they are on the keto diet. I think that this can be said for any diet craze – “oh I am on Atkins,” “I am paleo now,” “oh I can’t eat that, I am getting married next month.” The last one irks me the most. In order to prepare for the happiest day of your life, you must live a terribly miserable existence of eating only water and lettuce. There is an endless supply of jokes about people that feel the need to inform you of their life choices regarding food (just search twitter for vegan), but as a fat person it is all just cringe-worthy. It is just a constant barrage of people saying that they are willing to do anything so that they do not look like you. And yet here I am to tell you that I have stopped eating beef and pork.
I grew up in Michigan and we ate everything. We were under the impression that we were Italian, so noodles and meat were a big part of our diet. We always had a garden too, so fresh tomatoes, leaf lettuce, cucumbers, and green onions were on the table every summer. Growing up in Michigan also meant access to farms and “fresh” meat. Our family members would sometimes buy a cow together and each take parts to freeze for use through the year. I do not know if this is a Michigan thing, but we also had several refrigerators to store massive amounts of food as if we were living in a rural area without access to the four grocery stores all within a three-mile drive. Even when my folks lived alone, just the two of them in a trailer in a retirement community, they had two full size refrigerators. You never wanted to be without 37 tubs of frozen chili and Bolognese sauce!
Here are some of my favorite foods that my mother made: biscuits and sausage gravy, steak broiled over sliced potatoes so the grease would add that banging flavor, spaghetti with three meats in the sauce (usually Italian sausage, meatballs, and ground chuck), Rice-a-Roni meatballs (I thought my mom made this up, but a search online reveals beef porcupine meatballs), and homemade French onion soup (with ground chuck). My mom was an awesome cook. People were always at the house and they were always fed. And they fucking loved meat too.
I had a line on my old dating profile that said something like, “I am a hypocrite – I love animals and eat meat, but if we lived on a farm and it was up to me to kill the meat, we would be eating salad all day long.” Basically I am one of those people that could never do it myself, but would eat the hell out of some processed meat that someone else murdered for me. In theory, being vegetarian would be easy for me: I love all food. I am not a picky eater. I could very easily go without meat EXCEPT that I feel like I am going to faint whenever I am low on protein. This was especially the case when I had regular periods. (I say regular as in they came in every month, but really my periods were painful, excruciatingly long, and consisted of bleeding so much I became anemic.) I always knew that my period was around the corner because I would have intense cravings for red meat. However, now that I am older, I am having all sorts of GI changes. Beans, chickpeas, really any legume cause all sorts of drama. It is this new/old body drama that made me cut out pork and beef.
Maybe five or six years ago I noticed that whenever I used ground beef in sauces or chili I would get a wicked headache. I decided that this was due to the fact that I was getting the store brand meat and switched to expensive, organic, sometimes grass-fed ground meats. This seemed to work. Then three years ago I moved in with my boyfriend and he did not eat pork and rarely ate beef. This caused me to change some of my recipes, or just make less of those dishes. Up until now, we maybe ate the meats once a week. Sometime in the first week of July, I made a pasta with a Bolognese sauce that used both pork and beef (for myself) and ended up with a horrible headache. I also get this feeling in my esophagus and gut that I can’t explain other than saying it feels dirty. It is like a clogged, gross feeling while my head throbs. I recognized this feeling from the previous ground beef issues and decided to stop buying it.
So here I am, a month or so later, writing a story about how I stopped eating pork and beef. I also keep bringing it up. I tell people that I don’t even fucking know that I stopped eating beef and pork. The cashier at the grocery store told me that the salsa I was buying was delicious over some carne asada and I said, “Oh I don’t eat beef or pork.” Why she needed to know the pork when she was talking about steak, I don’t know. I went out for brunch a few weeks ago and didn’t look at the menu, but asked the server if they had a bloody mary. He brought me one with a giant piece of bacon sticking out of it. I was appalled. I didn’t complain though, because I had been like two weeks without it and realized how ridiculous that would sound. “Sir, there is bacon in my drink and I have not let the meats of a pig pass these lips in 14 days!” Instead, my bestie took a pic of it because it was so ridiculous and I put the bacon on the napkin and finished the drink.
My friends that know me well were shocked that chicken wasn’t included because I lied earlier when I said wasn’t picky. Chicken can gross me out so fast. Same with turkey. They are dirty ass birds that should be pet and kept in your yard for eggs and friendship only. That being said, I am addicted to Pad Kra Pao, which is essentially ground chicken with basil and peppers and a fried egg. I also make bbq chicken breasts and currently have a crockpot full of enchilada sauce and chicken breasts at home and a turkey sandwich for lunch. Sorry, I am a mystery wrapped in a hypocritical web of lies about meat.
So I know what all you vegans and diet-crazed folks are thinking, “BUT HOW DO YOU FEEL?”
Here is what I can tell you about my four weeks without beef and pork. Nothing. I have noticed zero changes. I don’t feel any better. I don’t feel healthier or more energetic. Obviously, I don’t have the headaches when I eat it, because I am not eating it, but instead I have been suffering from some crazy ass migraine for the last week for other reasons that the doctor is still trying to determine. The only thing that has changed is that I now have something to tell people. I stopped eating beef and pork.