If you’ve ever eaten a number of meals with me, you’ll soon discover that I don’t eat a certain type of food. Except for one incident, I haven’t eaten beef in over six years.
Why, you may ask, would I give up a source of delicious protein that eliminates steaks, corned beef, and hamburgers from my diet? No, I’m not a vegetarian. It’s not because of religious reasons. And I’m not allergic to it.
Well you see, it’s because of Five Guys. Back when I was studying at Virginia Tech, a new burger place opened in the shopping center across from my apartment. Being completely naive, my boyfriend at the time and I went to eat there soon after they opened and both ordered burgers and two orders of large fries. Now if you have ever eaten there, you will immediately know what our mistake was. There were enough fries to feed half the Virginia Tech football team in that order. But the bacon cheeseburger I got was so delicious. At the time, my experience with burgers had mainly been the fast food kind, meaning I had never really had a real burger. I quickly became quite addicted to them. When I moved back home, I found out that there was a Five Guys that had just opened in the Virginia Beach area (the only one at the time) and I found myself driving out there to get my fix. I soon discovered that eating these burgers was becoming slightly unhealthy for me. And while one may argue there are many things that could have been done, I decided for me that the best way for me to stop was to cut beef out of my diet completely.
One of the last Sundays in September 2007 was when I made the conscious decision not to eat any more beef. I actually had started a few days ago, but after going into a sandwich shop in Richmond I completely forgot that a Reuben was made out of corned beef. It was my last Reuben sandwich and the last time I ate beef for the next six years.
Well I take it back. I was in Philadelphia for a work trip in May 2012, and well, I was in Philly. I had to eat a cheesesteak IN Philly. So we went to Tony Luke’s where I got a cheesesteak with American cheese. It was pretty good. Nothing spectacular. I was slightly worried that I would get sick afterwards but I ate slowly and all was fine. It didn’t make me crave beef afterwards, and neither do I crave more cheesesteaks. It was one of those, I had do to it at the time moments and now I can cross it off my list.
Are there any times when I do crave beef? Not really. I’ve found that I can find substitutions for almost anything. If I want a burger, there are some really awesome turkey burgers out there. I mean I don’t go crazy and order them every night but they are becoming more mainstream. There are some awesomely delicious ones and then some that taste like dry cardboard. I also might get a veggie or black bean burger if that is a choice as well. And yes, I have been known to order non meat burgers and still ask for bacon on it. Ground turkey (or basically any ground meat) is also a great substitute for any recipe that calls for ground beef. You can’t really tell the difference at all.
Most steakhouses also offer ribs, pork chops, or chicken if you’re not going to order beef. I do love going to Brazilian steakhouses because even though there are all the obvious cuts of beef ready for you, there are plenty of pork, chicken, and lamb options as well. One can easily get stuffed without touching any of the steak at all.
Actually the only thing that you can’t really substitute is corned beef. Missing out on a traditional corned beef dinner on St. Patrick’s Day and all the Reuben sandwiches is a bit tough. I have yet to find another cut of meat that mimics the taste. But it is ok. I’ve lasted 6 years without one. I can go another 6 more. My friends have been pretty awesome with this. I try my darn hardest to not make it an issue since it’s not a health or religious reason for my non-eating. They have been glad to get other options for me and it warms my heart when I hear that turkey burgers or hot dogs were bought specifically for me without asking and it’s not a problem at all. As far as I can tell, I hope I have not been an inconvenience.
So if you dine with me or I feed you, I have no problems with eating beef or cooking it for you. Just be prepared for me not to eat it. And now you know why.