Red meat and me

Culprit in Heart Disease Goes Beyond Meat’s Fat

I saw this article this morning and it was more than a little surprising. It also struck a personal chord with me.

You see, I very rarely eat red meat. I even surprised myself when I posted a chili containing beef as my very first recipe on this blog. Way back in 2000, my so-called New Year’s Resolution was to become vegetarian. I didn’t do it for any of the usual reasons. I did it because I was bored. I wanted a challenge. And I got one.

My mom was not so much supportive as indifferent: “I’m not making you special dinners or anything,” I remember her saying with a sigh. “Whatever, Mom!” I probably groaned, with no lack of teenage indifference. So for two years I ate around the meat at dinner, which was totally fine. Except I was supplementing that lack of whole-food nutrition with chips and cookies. My typical lunch at school was seasoned potato wedges and 3 chocolate chip cookies (only $1!) or a slice of cheese pizza. Not exactly healthy. I didn’t know how to eat vegetarian AND healthfully (I later learned, though; much of college I was quasi-vegetarian. I saved so much money by not buying meat at the grocery store!).

So after 2 years I added chicken, turkey, and seafood back into my diet so I would not be so hungry that I had to eat all that junk food to compensate. Truth be told, I’d never been crazy about beef and pork the way many people are.  And I started taking my lunch to school (though I did continue to buy those amazing cookies all too often). I’ve maintained this form of omnivorism for the past decade now, and for the most part it works for me. But now, instead of buying just low-quality chicken — which, let’s be honest, often tastes terrible, I focus on sustainably raised meats that eat what they are designed to eat, not what the industry tells them to eat. And I eat less meat and more plants.

But lately I have been enjoying, on rare occasions (like,once or twice a month), red meat. My boyfriend has gotten me hooked on bison, and I’ve also been buying grass-fed beef (the two are nearly nutritionally identical: lower in saturated fat and higher in Omega-3’s, owing to a natural diet rather than a corn-packed one). In Arizona I enjoyed the most amazing venison, and I have a few friends who are nice enough to share wild deer with us on occasion. If one of my friends makes a smoked brisket, well, stay out of my way.

Everything in moderation, though. I will probably never go back to vegetarianism full time. But I will also be careful never to overdo it on meat, especially red.

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