Ages ago I drove more than 10 miles just to look at a free-range chicken. It wasn’t even a live one; it was frozen. Those were the times when antibiotic-free meat or chicken was a rarity. It would cost an arm and a leg to buy a lean, but clean chicken that wasn’t an antibiotic addict. As a student with no cash flow at the time, I could only stare at the chicken and weighed the costs in my head. Do I spend the rest of the day panhandling for a healthy meal, or do I go back home and eat whatever there is and do my homework?
After feeling dizzy from hunger, I staggered out of the earthy grocery store and drove back home. I crawled to the kitchen and you would think the people in the house would get the hint that I could use some help. So much for blood being thicker than water. My siblings just walked past me as if it was normal to be on my stomach on the floor buttering a slice of bread with peanut butter.
That day, however, became a turning point for me. I decided that if I couldn’t afford to eat “chemical free” meat, then I would just become a vegetarian. Understand that this was a time when vegetarianism was considered a disease. No one really knew how to treat us. The only resources available were vegetarian cookbooks with recipes that took three hours to make. At least that’s how long I took to make a simple meal, which I ate in less than five minutes and then I was hungry not too long after that.
Vegetarianism was new to me then and it wasn’t mainstream yet, so I learned the long, hard way. The clear eyes I read that I can expect to have looked more glazed. Perhaps because it took hours to chew carrots and celery sticks? I needed to consume a bag of each to fill up. Although I felt like a cow chewing cud, I didn’t look like one. In fact, I had never looked svelter. I was mistaken for a shadow a few times, but for the sound of my chewing, people realized I was a solid creature.
When I went to live in California for a while to live with relatives (and eventually over stay my welcome), I went back to eating regular food because I had to eat what the natives ate. The natives that dwelt in the house where I stayed said in a nice way that I wreaked havoc, but that’s another story. Shortly after I inadvertently forgot to feed their cat when they were gone, I was sent home packing, only to return to my parents’ house a meat eater.
Now, I’m on a paleo diet. So, when you open my refrigerator, you might see a cow’s head. Next week, I plan to serve sheep butt, which by the way, is the healthiest cut.
©2015 Karina Pinella