Today in the grocery store I had a revelation, but I will get to that later.
I am in the transition phase of being an omnivore to a vegetarian. I have never really eaten much meat, and some of it I find to be really disgusting. I never cooked much meat for myself and usually chose the vegetarian option when there was one. This wasn’t because of ethical reasons, but simply for my own taste. Recently I have been studying about world development and have been surrounded by people who encourage ethical choices when purchasing food: eco, fair trade, vege, etc. I really admired these people for having the courage and dedication to make such a change in their lives. I partly wanted to be that kind of person and partly wanted the admiration from them in return. I don’t want someone I admire to think I am immoral for the choices I make. I have successfully given up all caffeine from my diet, so I thought it could be easy to simply cut out the meat I rarely eat anyway.
I started with giving up ground beef. I liked the idea of doing this anyway because I have always been paranoid of getting E. Coli and I usually try to nearly blacken my hamburger before I eat it, and all the flavor runs out by then. Also I guess that ground beef is just all the leftover parts of the cow anyway, which could be……ANYTHING!! It agrees with my philosophy to not waste, but it doesn’t agree with my gag reflex.
After going for a week or so without ground beef I just took the plunge. It went okay, I didn’t really crave any meat. But the problem was that I have a husband who loves to have meat at least once a day, and in order to cook meals to satisfy both of us I had to cook a supplement meat thing for him, and pick it out of the food that he cooked for me. Then I decided to change my rules a bit. Whenever I make something for myself, I will not cook meat. But if some meat is offered to me I may not reject it. Is that a lazy vegetarian? Or just an undemanding one? I mean, no one likes to feel bad when they invite a vegetarian over for dinner only to know such a fact after they’ve prepared the best prime rib they’d ever made. And my father lives for hunting and fishing…. I could not disappoint him by refusing to try the new thing he just proudly caught (which is something that has really bonded us in the past…. and actually I think I get a freebee with this one because the animals were free-range). Or to go to Luca’s home and be an even further picky eater than I already am when his family offers me anchovy paste and raw ham (at least now I could have an ethical excuse not to eat it).
So, I guess I concluded I am an easy-going vegetarian. Anyway, I have been looking at some vege and vegan blogs to find some recipes, because I often look for recipes anyway, and now I can be sure there is no meat. I came across one website that listed all the reasons why one should be a vegan. Including: its bad to eat eggs because of this horrible thing, its bad to drink milk because of that horrible thing, and so on. It really made me feel sick! When I was finished I almost gave up everything for good. But then I started to think critically about it, and came back down to reality. Can I imagine myself not baking any more delicious quiche or having my daily bowl of cereal? And then I remembered a thing that settled it: the best cheese I have ever tasted sold out of a van by a charming man behind a church in the Alps. Sounds skeezy, I know, but I worry it has ruined all other cheeses for me, and that this man has driven away into the distance and I will never taste this fantastic cheese again….. that is how delicious it was. I could never give up cheese. I can’t even imagine the thought of it. So there you go, I won’t be a vegan.
Now we get to the point, my grocery store revelation. I was strolling for dinner, and I came across some meatballs. And in that moment my mouth watered and my heart sank at the same moment. Something I used to eat all the time, and trust me here in Sweden even the frozen meatballs are fantastic. I walked past them and went into the next area to buy a new block of cheese, when I saw the cheese of Sweden’s famous brand Arla … now if you don’t know this brand, they put a cartoon cow on just about everything they make. In that moment I remembered the website I read about how milk cows are kept pregnant and their babies are taken from them and after some years they are killed when they can no longer produce and etc. and then I thought, what is the difference between me buying this cheese and me buying the meatballs? Either way a cow is suffering. What is so noble about giving up something but supplementing it with something else that is arguably just as bad? Even if I buy only cheese from cows who are treated ethically, then I go on about this wasting thing. Should the ethically treated milk cows (if there is such a thing) just die of natural causes and be buried instead of eaten? I know that’s not how it works and blah blah unfortunately the world isn’t really like that yada yada…. but really if I’m going to eat cheese then I shouldn’t have a problem with beef, or leather, or cow tongues, or whatever.
But in the end I left the store with this cartoon cow instead of the meatballs, because I decided I still can’t stand the idea of eating whatever leftovers are in that ground beef. But I did buy a steak.