So long story short: I’m an accidental vegetarian
So an interesting thing happened a little over a week ago.
As many of you know, I am a strong proponent of having a knowledge of where your food comes from. In particular, I believe that we (as omnivores) need to understand where the meat we eat comes from. That it once was alive, and now it is not. That for us to have a hamburger, and animal that was living is no longer living.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that it’s wrong for us to eat animals. I think that it is part of our right as the dominant species in the discovered universe to use the resources that are available to us. Evolution has granted us with extraordinary killing ability, and the primary purpose and motivator of that has been to kill other animals to eat. But we need to be aware of the fact that delicious bacon doesn’t grow on trees; that a death had to occur for us to enjoy the crispy deliciousness found therein.
To reinforce this, I personally believe that you shouldn’t eat anything that you aren’t willing to kill yourself. This doesn’t mean that you told the butcher to kill an animal. This means that you should be the one to pull the trigger, to part the skin, to remove the organs, and to drain the body of blood before finally rinsing the flesh off and putting it into a pot, to simmer for a few hours before being consumed with a crusty piece of bread. I think once you’ve gone through this experience you appreciate your food that much more. It isn’t just something that magically appears at the super market. It’s something that took a lot of effort and time, and ultimately something that you should enjoy.
This isn’t just empty preaching, either. My kids have killed their dinner before (both have fished and my son has killed rabbits.) I’ve killed rabbits and fish as well, and I was moving on to bigger and more interesting food. I wanted to roast a pig.
I figured that my experience with killing the rabbits was sufficient, but just to be sure I found a local farm that the farmers assisted with the killing and gutting of the animal. I spent several hours researching the most humane and fastest way to kill a pig. How to gut it so that I could roast it appropriately. I found recipes online, and prepared all the ingredients. I went to the farm and picked out the pig a week before the kill was to go down. I was quite prepared.
I invited my friend and bishop from church to come along. He’s gone hunting numerous times and has experience killing and butchering his own meat, and so I thought that it would be a great idea to have some backup. There was a church BBQ to celebrate the pioneers that I felt was going to be the perfect opportunity to present all 35 pounds of roast deliciousness.
The day of the big event I got the cooler and everything I needed. I left my house at 7:00 am and arrived at the pig farm. Our little guy was brought out. Due to a confusion, I didn’t make the killing stroke, but held the animal down as he bled out (it took about 15-30 seconds.) Then we scraped the hair off, and gutted the animal. We were on our way back by 8:30, with a cleaned, gutted, hairless pig ready to be roasted. I got home, stuffed the pig and put it into the oven for the first 4 hours of cooking.
I basted the pig with it’s own juices every 30 minutes, tenderly ensuring that the skin was kept intact, that the head and face were being cooked evenly without any burning. I rubbed olive oil all over it to ensure that the flavor and natural oils didn’t get cooked out.
I then transferred the pig to the grill, where he cooked for another 4 hours. I brought him to the church picnic, excited to see what everyone’s reaction would be. This was by far the most expensive and elaborate meal that I had ever prepared. It took a total of about 10 hours of my time, most of it carefully tending the grill, or the oven, or basting.
And I couldn’t eat a single bite.
Let me state that again. The man that has eaten 5 plates of Mongolian grill that was only meat and vegetables; the man that has eaten an entire bacon explosion by himself in a single sitting; the man that has a reputation of putting away more than any other man save his own brother and is quite possibly the biggest tightwad in existence could not eat one bite of his $130 roast pig.
You see all I could smell in it was the smell of the animal at the farm. The smell of it’s insides as I carefully removed it’s organs. There was no delicious ham scent. There was no exquisite crisp fatty bacon smell. All I could detect was farm smell.
You win some, you lose some. I decided not to worry too much about it and went to the grill to get myself something else to eat. I picked up a hotdog…and put it back down. I couldn’t stomach the thought of it. A hamburger… nope.
And so, I am an accidental vegetarian. Since that day I have only been able to keep down a very little amount of meat. Something went horribly awry akin to when fly and man DNA was merged, and a new mutant Sam has emerged. This isn’t to say that I’ll be vegetarian forever. I’m slowly getting to the point where hamburgers smell good again (pork still is in no way appetizing) and maybe someday I’ll be able to actually get to the food to the digesty parts of my body. But until then I am trying to figure out how to keep enjoying my meals, sans le meat.