The hardest part about my doctor telling me that I had to return to eating meat after having been meat-free for over two years wasn’t actually eating the meat.
It was recognizing that I had a holier-than-thou attitude about not eating meat.
After all, I was saving the planet while all those meat eaters were collectively doing it in, and here my doctor was telling me that I had to step back from that position.
“I know you’ve been plant based for two years,” Doctor J. was saying, “but health-wise, it didn’t accomplish what we’d hoped for.”
“Why not?” I insisted.
“Basically, because not every diet is right for every body,” she replied. “No matter what you read on Google.”
“But…but…but,” I said in various ways before I finally agreed to at least think about it. And when she turned to leave, she made another comment that really stuck with me.
“I hope you won’t allow your attachment to your opinions get in the way of your own good health,” she said, except she said it in a much more carefully stated way than I make it sound here. After all, you have to tread lightly with people who are attached to their opinions.
I know, because I am attached to a lot of mine.
The thing is, I like my opinions. They are my friends. I am so familiar with them they seem like they are a part of me. I take them to bed with me at night and wake up with them in the morning. They keep me safe and help me divide the world up into two kinds of people: those who don’t see things the way I do and those who do—such as the people on my Facebook page.
And speaking of my Facebook page, that’s exactly where I have expressed so many of my strongly held opinions—especially about not eating meat.
You’d have thought that I and my handful of Facebook friends alone could reverse the California drought. All we had to do was exactly what Governor Jerry Brown suggested we do: eat veggie burgers.
Governor Jerry Brown aside however, I was now being faced with my own doctor suggesting—strongly—that I don’t let my opinions get in the way of my health and that I throw down the fork and pick up the knife.
What would people think?
I’d be making a fool of myself. I would feel ashamed.
“Shame has nothing to do with it,” my Buddhist friend was telling me. But, since I was feeling shame, she added softly that I could be pretty sure that I wasn’t eating meat for the good of the planet so much as I wasn’t eating meat to feed my ego.
It was so convoluted—and so true—that we laughed hysterically.
Down deep inside though, I knew it wasn’t funny and that she was telling me the truth.
Then my husband more or less stepped in.
“I can’t wait to make you my secret recipe for butter chicken,” he said, teasing in a kindly way.
“How can you joke about such a serious matter!” I said back in a not-kindly-at-all way.
That was when he did the best thing he could have done. He came over to me, put both his arms around me and talked into the top of my head the way he does because he’s so much taller than me.
“That’s the thing, Honey,” he said. “To me, it’s not such a serious matter. To me it’s just chicken. It’s not all that other stuff you have attached to it. Besides, if you just let go of your opinions about not eating meat, maybe you’ll get better faster.”
There was that word again, “attached.”
Maybe it was my husband’s tenderness. Maybe it was what both my doctor and my friend had said, and maybe it was what I had recently read:
“Intuitively, we know detachment is the right thing to do because at the end of the day, our main issue lies in being too attached to almost everything in our lives.” ~ Elyane Youssef
I turned to look up at my husband. Something inside me had let go. I felt it.
“What ‘secret’ recipe for butter chicken?” I asked him playfully.
He laughed and said he’d tell me later but we could have it for dinner the next night—after I emailed my doctor and told her to send me the link to the new Keto diet she wanted me to go on.
My Husband’s “Secret” Recipe for Butter Chicken (Keto Style)
Put one stick of unsalted butter in a sauce pan and turn the heat to medium low.
Add a few bite-size chunks of fresh red or yellow bell pepper and one package of chicken tenders. Sprinkle the whole pan with salt, a dash of hot red pepper sauce and dried sage. Cover and braise for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half until the chicken is fork tender and pulls apart easily. The pepper should be pretty nearly dissolved.
(Note: The chicken is being braised in the butter, not fried, so the heat needs to be kept low. The chicken will turn a golden yellow from the butter and the low heat of the braising.)
I serve it with fresh baby spinach that I cook in the remaining butter after I have removed the chicken.
Author: Carmelene Siani
Editor: Catherine Monkman