No, not my own. Silly reader.
I’ve been some form of a vegetarian for almost a decade (currently a pescatarian). I decided to become veg my senior year in college. I had been considering it for years, feeling so guilty knowing that something was killed for my consumption and seeing a few people around me also make the choice, I decided to take the plunge. I actually felt a ton better physically as well as emotionally and about ten months later was diagnosed with IBS, which gave my veginess some further justification (IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. And yes, it is as bad as Andy Bernard says on The Office. Dadoodoodoo.)
Over the years I have developed new reasons for staying veg, from my condition (the main reason at this point) to how much better it is for the environment to the fact that I don’t want to consume the hormones. I am way healthier as a result, mainly because the meats I so cherished when I was eating them were all the really bad, really heart murdering ones: salami, pepperoni, bacon. I’ve avoided the stuff for the most part, with only the occasional tiny, tiny nibble of a piece of bacon (even I can’t resist that salty goodness completely).
Enter Ribfest. Ribfest is a Chicago tradition that has been happening for years. As I do not discriminate based on the foods people consume, I have many a friend who can’t resist the smokey smell that wafts off Lincoln Ave during this weekend. I’ve been before and have felt my mouth water as we passed the giant grills. My version of Ribfest though usually involves sticking my pinky in my friend’s dishes to taste all the different sauces.
But this year I decided to change it up. I hadn’t had anything like that in years and, honestly, I was feeling sorry for myself that I was missing out on some of the fun. I was really scared though for two reasons:
1. I had no idea how my stomach would react.
2. I had no idea how my friends would react.
The choice to become a veg is not met with open arms. I’ve faced all sorts of scrutiny and judgment over the years. I’ve been roped into arguments over the merits of food and been told that it’s okay if we eat at this restaurant because they serve chicken. Last time I checked, chickens are animals, but I could be wrong on that I guess.
Now I have great friends. I don’t think they would judge me too fiercely. But I did worry about the raised eyebrows and questioning looks.
“I have my risk for the day,” I announced to my group of friends. “I want to eat a rib.”
“Are you going to buy a whole sample?” they inquired.
“Oh no,” I shook my head. “I just want one. You don’t want to be around me if I eat more than that.”
Of course, no judgment. My friends are rockstars.
The next booth we went to, my friend ordered a sample and gave me the first pick. The one I chose was a little bit too tender because it was falling off the bone. I gently picked it up, took a deep breath, and began to eat the messy sucka.
I was unimpressed. And from what my friend said, it was a good rib. First off, there was so much sauce on there I couldn’t tell what flavors were sauce and which were meat. Secondly, I realized that all I liked about eating this kind of meat was the sauce. With the meats that I listed above, the flavor was a part of the actual meat; you don’t need all the trimmings.
For me at least, I’m not missing anything. If I’m really craving some BBQ then I’ll just go grill a portobella mushroom and slather it in barbecue sauce. And thankfully, my stomach kept it’s head held high.