The unthinkable has happened. I suspect that I am becoming a vegetarian. After defending meat eating for what seemed like a lifetime, I don’t find eating meat appealing like I used to. It all started after I had a meat-free day each week, just to see what all the fuss was about. Although I’m in good health, there was always room for improvement and if eating less meat helped, I won’t complain.
My flirtation with a plant based diet started seven weeks ago, and it was more out of curiosity than any firm conviction about vegetarianism. Perhaps the constant arguments with vegan relatives had something to do with it. I was in no hurry to betray my German roots by becoming a vegetarian. If I did not eat meat, I would not be German. But, I am not so sure anymore. My veggie cousins constantly pointed out that eating meat was bad. I suppose cutting back on pork sausages won’t hurt my German pride. Anyway, we eat too much meat as a family and as a nation. Germans eat 61kg of meat per head, which makes us the biggest consumer of meat in Europe. Meat was not affordable in earlier times and was eaten mostly on special occasions, like on religious days, or when a special guest visited. The poor survived on vegetables and grains, and the scraps of meat left over by the rich.
My first meat-free day was on a Wednesday, and I did not feel different, except for having a growling tummy. I had my usual Buletten and Bratwurst the next day and did not think much about my foray into vegetarianism. The following Wednesday was hectic and when lunch arrived, I hurriedly grabbed a Portobello burger at one of the local restaurants, and my stomach was very happy indeed. I had never eaten a Portobello burger before and it was absolutely tasty. I still had tons of energy to get through a very hectic day. By the time the evening had arrived, I was exhausted but not fatigued like when I ate meat. After a short break and a quick vegan dinner, I felt recharged. My wife was exhausted from helping me with my chores and went straight to bed. No points for guessing she is meat eater just like me.
Despite missing out on meat for a few days, it still smelled and tasted great, but I was aware that I was eating a dead animal. The following week I had two meat-free days – Tuesday and Thursday. All was well on Friday when I ate a pork sandwich for breakfast. Then in the late afternoon I went to the local deli and was immediately struck by the most revolting smell ever – the smell of raw meat. I ran out of the meat shop and threw up on the side walk as onlookers gave me questioning stares.
I had flesh-free days on rare occasions in the very distant past when I was Catholic and had never experienced anything this drastic. The following day I found the smell of meat tolerable, until pig flesh was brought to the table. The stench was absolutely disgusting and I bolted to the bathroom. No matter how much my kids groaned and grumbled, swine flesh no longer features in the Stolz household. Pork and bacon are verboten! I don’t why I developed a sudden dislike for pork. Maybe I had seen too many terrible pictures of factory pig farms, or I had a latent biological revulsion to pig meat. My next hunting trip has been indefinitely postponed.
My relatives played an often feisty role in me changing my diet, arguing passionately about the rights of animals and the state of the planet. Sure harsh words were said but our tempers also flared on issues other than meat eating. I was a Borussia Dortmund supporter and they were snooty Bayern Munchen fans. There were bound to be disagreements! The latest scientific research suggests a gene is responsible for people finding the smell of pig flesh repulsive. I suspect that I will become a vegetarian, but only time will tell. The German word for forbidden is verboten
Photo: Improving the welfare of laying hens, courtesy Kurt Fuchs . Attribution CC BY-SA 3.0