the end of vegetarianism

dot's deli blood sausage with lentils
a confession: i eat meat.

it's been a slow and constant evolution. meat slowly phased out of my life about 10 years ago. there were long stints of strict vegetarianism, broken up by travelling abroad where i refused to pass up on any new food experience (yes i will eat bastilla with pigeon in morocco and kebabs of bull testicles in cairo. you bet!) ... there were short periods of challenging myself to be vegan or raw vegan. the last few years i have been enjoying small amounts of seafood. and more recently the occasional 'portlandia' grade meat. but up until this past sunday, i would still tell people i was vegetarian. not a lie, just a cop-out response to a long-winded reasoning.

sunday was my tipping point. on a whim, i signed up for a five-hour butchery workshop at dot's delicatessen. the backstory: my friends heather and travis of 41 legs urban farm have been raising a pig in the city limits of seattle. they have chickens and ducks and rabbits and this pig named babette. a massive pig, over 300 pounds, who recently reached slaughtering weight. being their first pig, travis and heather teamed up with farmstead meatsmith to learn how to slaughter babette. a heavy and intense process in every sense. i will spare the details and warn you now that the rest of this blog post is far out of my vegetarian food blogging comfort zone and may be out of your comfort zone too. but personally, the workshop was absolutely fascinating and inspiring. so much so that i feel the need to share it with others.

the opportunity to observe the butchering of an animal that was slaughtered a few miles away less than 24 hours prior was unique and hugely valuable. sharing the experience with the couple who raised the pig and seeing their range of emotions was intense and powerful.  knowing every detail about this pig and her life and what went into raising babette adds a whole new level of appreciation for the final product. 

what i originally thought was going be to horrific and traumatic, was overridden by a sense of fascination and awe. the weight and size of the animal and the amount of sweat that goes into butchering her impressed me. the anatomy fascinated me: the clear distinctions between different cuts of meat - fat, muscles, tendons, it was all so apparent... observing skillful butchers work their way through one half of a pig at a time, utilizing every bit of of flesh and bone, made me trust that babette was in the right hands for the right reasons - without question. a statement i realize many vegetarians would have issue with. but we all have our different reasons for vegetarianism. and i can't replicate in words the feeling of standing next to friends and sharing a plate of meat from the pig they raised from piglet to pork, watching their emotions with each chew, and enjoying the flavor and texture of pork tenderloin rubbed in coffee grounds and broiled to perfection. it just felt right. 

so long story short... i'm unable to label myself as vegetarian at this point in my life. not to say my diet will change very much. maybe you could already tell that i love vegetarian food with a passion. no? if anything, the experience just inspired me to one day raise my own animals. oh my big day dreams...
but don't worry. i have no intention of blogging about meat. yet. don't quote me on that in 10 years when i have my own urban farm and a pig.
if you would like to view additional photos from the workshop, find me on instagram @drumbeets

i regret not brining my real camera, but instagram will suffice for those of you who wish to view the images. warning: they are a bit intense for the vegetarian eyes.