At Easter, one of my friends asked me what I planned to do about meat now that Lent is over. “I don’t know,” I answered. “I still don’t know what’s going to happen.” I side-stepped the question, really. With that group of friends, I could have talked the rest of the evening away on this one uncomfortable topic.
I gave up eating factory-farmed meat for Lent. I knew that I could do it for that limited time, and I hoped to use the time to step back and gain some perspective on the issue, but also to break the habit of saying yes, so I could start fresh.
And I did it. Given the fact that Catholics don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent anyway, I probably didn’t inconvenience Michael all that much more than I already would have. Once or twice I did suggest an alternative restaurant, when he wanted to go somewhere where I knew I would crack, like Mr. Gyros. He took it with good grace, and mostly, I was able to choose a non-meat alternative wherever we went, without undue suffering. It turned out that when I stopped before automatically ordering the meat option, I usually ended up with something just as good. Shrimp Tikka Masala, Veggie Pho, beans instead of chicken in my burrito—they all tasted just fine.
Of course, I still ate meat at home, and at Michael’s house too, because I already kept both places supplied with ethically raised meat and eggs, so that was business as usual.
It was at other friend’s houses, as I knew it would, that things got tough. I just didn’t feel ready to declare myself, and didn’t know what to say if I did. I was able to unobtrusively avoid the pot roast at one dinner. Filling up on vegetables wasn’t so awful, really. I fretted in advance of a dinner party a girlfriend gave. Should I say something? Should I just eat the salad? Would she be offended if she noticed? In the end, it all worked out fine and I had plenty to eat without calling attention to myself.
But here I was, on the other side of Lent, without a time-limited resolution to fall back on. So now what? What happened next was this. On the Monday after Easter, we returned from our weekend on the coast. I dropped Michael off at his place, and picked up some take-out Pho on my way home. With thin-sliced beef. Oh, it was good. I was off the wagon and it tasted great!
Okay, I gave myself that freebie, but I still want to continue to avoid factory-farmed meat. I’m willing to compromise to the extent necessary for good manners at friend’s homes, but I’m also going to speak up where appropriate and just explain that I’m mostly vegetarian now. I’ll probably make the occasional exception at restaurants–let’s be honest here. But I know what I want to do and I know now that it’s possible for me to do it.