Column: A meatless Thanksgiving

By Kaitlyn Mattiace

Journalism assignment: Do something you’ve never done before, then write about the experience.
I thought to myself, something new, eh? I’ve been chit-chatting with a whole lot of vegetarians lately, I wonder… what’s it like to be a vegetarian? Better yet, what’s it like to be a vegetarian over Thanksgiving? That, I shall determine! But can I do it?
I sat there around the table watching my mom, dad, uncle and grammy cut the meat and rip the flesh to shreds and I wondered, “Do they ever think about what they are actually eating?” I poked the meaty part on top of my forearm—it’s the same texture as the filet my dad cut into, that same squishy but tough texture.
I never really thought about my non-vegetarian ways until I helped my sister pet sit chickens over the summer. They’re beautiful animals! Not too responsive, but to see an animal frolicking in the outdoors, moving and interacting with its fellow kin, really makes you think twice before eating them. They have a mommy, just like all of us. They have a life, just like us. Watching the meat move on top of the bones and under those brown, red and slightly blue feathers of the rooster became an image that my mind would revisit every time I viewed chicken as a meal of choice.
Some might say “eww” to that last part. I hate that. If you can’t handle someone talking about animal flesh and what part of the body the meat you are eating came from, then you shouldn’t be eating it. That’s just ignorant.
Oh, but the protein! I used to see meat as the ultimate source of protein and the thing that will fill you up most. I felt like I really needed it to maintain a healthy diet.
So there begins my journey into the world of vegetarianism. To eat meat, or not to eat meat? Will my ever-growing appetite be unsatisfied and yearning for more after every meatless meal? You never know until you try. The best time to test out my true desire for meat was over Thanksgiving break. No turkey, no real marshmallows (yay for vegan marshmallows from the Marketplace), no real gravy, no chicken or turkey bouillon/broth and none of these things during the days of leftovers that follow the holiday.
There are some things I have learned so far as an attempted vegetarian, and a few things that I have done that a true vegetarian would not approve of. Here are some examples:
Nov. 30: Ate pepperoni pizza because it looked so yummy and I didn’t want to throw away part of the pizza. How could I possibly do that?
Dec. 2: I reached for the delicious looking spinach and feta croissant at the Marketplace. I was so excited to take a bite. I sat down, got out my computer and took the croissant out of the bag. I took a big bite. Much to my surprise, I got a sweet sensation of a softer taste than spinach and feta. It was ham and swiss. Sin as I might, I came to the conclusion that I trusted that ham from the Marketplace was from a happy, well-raised piggy—I guess that makes it a little bit better. But still meat…
Dec. 4: I had not yet had dinner, but my mom was making chicken and dumplings—so good. The chicken was from the Fresh Market. I did some research, and the image that I had in my head of where this chicken was raised was not too gruesome at all: a nice farm.
So that was when I came to the conclusion that all I want to do is know where my food comes from, and know that eating whatever I choose to eat isn’t in support of harm to the environment (through whichever way the food was processed).
I’m slightly unsure about whether or not I want to go full-blown vegetarian quite yet. I hate the idea of slaughter, but I know that there is nothing I can do to stop that practice.
I don’t want to fall into that American way of eating whatever I pay for at the store or buying pre-prepared meals without being able to know or appreciate what went into that food in terms of labor and ingredients.
For now, I’d consider myself part vegetarian, but more so just aware. I’m aware of and I care about where my food came from, how much work was put into my food and what type of environment my food was grown or raised in.