It’s been a long time coming. And last week’s chicken dinner didn’t help.
To take you back, in the late ’80s and early ’90s (when I was like 3… ahem.) I was a vegetarian. Maybe not for the reasons my friends would have suspected of me, me in my fringe suede jacket and untimely tie dye. Yes, I would have liked to have a pet duck if my mom would have okayed it, and yes I once quit a job at a retail store because they started selling fur coats. But the reason I gave up meat was because I was tired of eating it.
I never cared for the stuff – just ask my parents. I was cutting the fat off pork chops and casting aside chicken skin long before it was en vogue to save your arteries. I was known for having the ability to retain an unsavory portion of gristle in the side of my mouth for Olympic lengths of time waiting for the perfect opportunity to dispense it in a napkin as soon as all heads were turned. So for me giving up meat in my early adulthood was simple. And everyone assumed I did it for the chickens.
It doesn’t help that I actually knew a person (not in the far-removed way but in the personal, neighbors-for-two-decades “been to each other’s houses” way) who had a very bad experience with a chicken sandwich from a famous fast food restaurant. I won’t go into the gory details, but let it suffice to say that the “urban myth” about finding a horribly disgusting growth in one’s chicken sandwich, then going on to collect a huge settlement is indeed fact, not fiction, and that the myth is not based on this one person I knew, but I suspect comes from several similar stories.
Fast forward to last week. Usually we buy the organic chicken. We cook it ourselves. Last week we were hungry and tired from an evening of shopping and got the astronaut chicken. You know, the hot roasted chickens in the nasty clamshell containers that many a grocery store sells to hungry shoppers who are too tired to cook what they just purchased. That was us. We took it home and ate one half.
Next day I hauled it out of the fridge for the leftovers and cut into the other side. Inside near the breastbone was some horrid looking brownish-red grainy stuff; a lot of it. I freaked out as all my old childhood memories came flooding back. I told my husband, “There’s something in the chicken!” Perhaps he thought I meant a mouse or a finger, because based on the look on my face he flew to the kitchen. “Oh,” he said, “it’s just blood.” I wasn’t convinced at first, but then I figured he was right. But why a big pile of it there at the breast? Perhaps an embolism? A poultry heart attack? Okay, then why? Did our chicken freak out on the chicken truck? If the incident was deadly does that mean our chicken died before the slaughter house had a chance to do its job? And if so, who decided “Eh, it’s just fine. Someone will eat it anyway”? All these possibly obsessive thoughts flooded my head.
In the end I decided I didn’t really care what the reason for my chicken’s demise. I couldn’t even touch it to throw it away. That was last week, and I haven’t had any meat since. Not that it’s a huge leap, mind you. We eat meat about once or twice a week anyway, and I didn’t even tell my husband until last night that I was a vegetarian again. His response? “Okay.” How cool is that?
As it turns out, I feel healthier without meat anyway. I’ve always noticed that my asthma kicks up after meats that have additives such as in sliced deli meat, really cheap chicken, and anything in a buffet. I have more energy on a vegetarian diet too. I can eat a big meal and not fall asleep before clearing the table. I may never get the chance to claim a huge settlement after finding a growth in my roast beef, but I feel really good about my decision.
Astronaut chickens of the world, unite.