I gave up meat nearly a decade ago. This time. I’d chosen vegetarianism off and on for all of my adult life, primarily citing ethical reasons (secondarily environmental issues, tertiarily health issues, blah blah blah).
I’ve always been what I call a “loose” vegetarian, though. Example: When friends brought over bacon-wrapped water chestnuts years ago, I justified eating them by telling myself I wasn’t creating any more demand for meat by eating leftovers. Suuuuuuure, Julie. But gotdamn, if that bacon wasn’t delicious.
At home, I’d eat water meat occasionally (fish, mussels, etc.), and when I got here, I loosened up even more. Example: That broth is definitely not vegetarian (but it’s just made up of leftover animal parts that would go to waste anyway, right?). Suuuuuuure, Julie. But gotdamn, if that soup wasn’t delicious.
And then I went to Vietnam on a vacation week.
It all started so innocently with this lovely veg street food consumed in one of the many lovely parks that exist in the heart of Saigon. I knew there was fish sauce in the egg part, and I was fine with that.
And I ordered the pho tofu. Which wasn’t exactly veg (but was exactly tasty).
Then I took a cooking class, and on the way to the market, our guide asked if anyone was a vegetarian. I kept my hand down. So we went to the market and shopped for deliciously fresh veg and herbs. And meat.
And that’s when the meat hit the proverbial fan. And not just water meat, but all the land meat available to humankind. I had shrimp. Fish. Chicken. Pork. Beef.
We cooked lovely dishes that day, and then over the course of the week, I had all the meats again, sometimes all on one sandwich.
I told myself when I returned to Cambodia, I would eschew meat again, or at least to the extent that I had before I went to Vietnam. My first attempt to get a sandwich without meat? This:
I’ll let you guess where it’s gone since then…