Giving Up Vegetarianism

If I’m going to bring this blog back, I think I’d better get this out of the way first: At the start of 2015 I gave up giving up meat and began eating chicken. I’ve been doing so, most days, for three years now.

And I never stop dreading it as it sits there on the plate.

I made the decision to give meat-eating a shot because the specialist I’ve seen for myalgic encephalomyelitis, while supportive of my vegetarianism, had also several times encouraged me to try taurine as a supplement, as he does for all his patients. I found that I couldn’t tolerate it in the form he prescribes (magnesium/taurine injections), so as an alternative, tried a dietary source.

It didn’t take long to tell that it helped. I was doing really terribly at the time, and within a couple weeks it was apparent my strength was improving. I’ve tried going off the chicken for a week or two, and after that amount of time it’s clear that not eating it results in me losing ground.

So this is a positive result, but disheartening. Meat was not a favorite of mine growing up, and 24 years of vegetarianism solidified that indifference into loathing. And though I’ve been eating it for three years now, I haven’t been able to overcome that. I don’t know if I could with beautifully-carried-out poultry cookery (had I not so many ME-imposed dietary restrictions), and frankly, I suppose I don’t really want to.

I know that hating eating chicken doesn’t keep the chickens I’m eating from needing to be slaughtered to be on my plate, but I think I’d feel still more guilty about the whole matter if I were enjoying it. I can imagine an argument that the best valuing of the slaughter of that life would be to get the maximum enjoyment out of the flesh it yielded, but that’s an appeal to a hedonism that isn’t in my makeup.

It’s probably best for my social relationships that the cardiac insufficiency compels me to I eat as I do, alone, reclining, because I know I make horrible faces while trying to get the chicken down with the minimum awareness of I am chewing and eating the flesh of another animal.

There is the possibility of taking taurine as a supplement, which would be less traumatic for me and certainly for the chickens, but would mean repeated trials of supplementation vs. meat-eating to determine what I could tolerate and evaluate whether it gave as much benefit. And with the instability, fragility, and lack of margin that are fundamental to ME, it’s often a lot easier to go on with something you know works than to undertake a lot of efforts toward something that might or might not.

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Hello (Again) World!

Nearly eleven years ago, I had to abandon this blog.

Since then, most of that time I’ve been some flavor of bedridden, because my cardiac output is too low for me to be reliably upright. I’ve repeatedly been over the terrain from unable to walk across the room, to able to walk out into the garden for three minutes but needing to be flat the other 23:57 of the day. That latter state is where I am now. (I know bedridden’s not a perfect descriptor for the latter state, but “housebound” isn’t quite right for that degree of not-able-to-be-up either.)

In 2011 I started writing a blog about my illness. After three and a half years of that, I felt like I’d said about all I had to say about being sick. But despite having been out of the food marketing world nearly as long as I was in it, I’ve never stopped reading about and thinking about food.

This past January, I saw Ruby Tandoh’s tweet about the need for more diverse voices in food writing. I’d already been thinking for a while about starting to write here again, as over the past year I’ve used as much as I can of my long-fought-for energy improvement on small kitchen tasks, adapted to my circumscribed function, and what she said was useful validation for something I’d struggled with when I was writing here the first time around.

I fell ill about six months after I started this blog in 2003. It was my first taste of an experience I’ve come to call poverty of energy.

Poverty of energy’s first manifestation for me was wanting to keep up with the achievements of healthy people engaged in the same pursuits but not having the ability to do the activities that could make that possible.

Because I needed so much rest to keep going even at a reduced level, I wasn’t able to work as a healthy person might on repeating recipes for development or on site design or on getting better at photography. So I had a blog that was not-great at those things, and as a result I always felt like it, and I, didn’t measure up.

That’s why Tandoh’s tweet was so useful. The past eleven years have been one big lesson in accepting a life of not measuring up, and feeling like that might make what I have to say about food and cooking useful rather than require discounting because my pictures will never be magazine-ready was something I needed to hear from the outside.

I hope you’ll grant me the same permission to fall short.