Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Beef, It's What's For Dinner

I became a vegetarian the same year that the Blue Jays won the World Series. The reason I know that is because I remember Bobby, who was in my chemistry class, was a Blue Jays fan and Justin, who was a Braves fan, put a dead Blue Jay in his locker. 

I didn’t do it because I particularly felt sorry for animals; I didn’t do it because I didn’t like meat. I did it because of Mr. Gruner. Mr. Gruner was my high school chemistry teacher. He told us about red meat and the cholesterol and other bad things that go along with it. We probably had to work up some kind of equation from the periodical chart to figure it all out. After that, my friend E and I decided to try and see if we could go without eating red meat for a while, more as a challenge to ourselves than anything. 

That challenge lasted 15 years. 

In 2008, I went to South America, with stop number one being Argentina. All my friends were so excited to try “some of the best steaks in the world” and the very famous Argentine “asado” (BBQ). I, on the other hand, was interested in museums and neighborhoods, of mountains and lakes, of beaches and hiking and penguins. 

They wanted BEEF.  


So, the very first day we arrived in Buenos Aires, we went to dinner at a place called Las Cholas. If you ever go to BsAs, make sure you go here. It was delicious! No, I didn’t try the Parilla (grill) but my friends did and they loved it. I had a bottle of wine, a tasty rice dish and much, much more. Come to find out, Argentines don’t just eat meat! Plus, my entire meal cost me $8, which on a traveler’s budget was kind of on the high side, but for a meal anywhere else, it is a steal of a deal! 

The entire time we were there, we went out for meat almost every day, and I always found other things to eat. Did you know that there are a lot of Italians in Argentina? So, pizza was on the menu a lot, although the sauce they use was a little sweeter than I am used to. Did you know that there are tons of Germans in BsAs? So there were pastries aplenty! Did you know that the coffee in Argentina is better than the coffee in some of the countries in Europe? Well it is! They have espresso! Not the Nescafe stuff that many of the other South American countries call “cafĂ©”! 

So, it wasn’t really very hard to be a vegetarian in a meat eating country.

One month after I got back from South America I was on a plane and they served me a breakfast of eggs, sausage and fruit. I ate the egg. I ate the fruit. And for some reason I had a craving for a salty piece of pork. So I ate it. And the challenge was over. 

I still don’t eat very much meat. However, I do wish that I would have just tried on of the “best steaks in the world” when I had the chance. Oh well, I guess I will just have to go back some day.

I will leave you with these random beef facts:

- Argentines are the 2nd biggest consumers of beef (Australia is 1st)
- Argentines eat 55 kg of beef a year per person – that is 121 lbs per year, or a third of a pound A DAY.
- Argentina is the 3rd largest exporter of beef – behind Brazil and Australia
- Generally, Argentine cattle were mostly grass-fed, but lately they have been using more feed lots, so are producing both leaner and fattier beef (did you know feed lot cattle are fed BEER to calm them down? Me neither)

How about you? Have you ever had trouble with your diet while traveling? How did you adapt?


  1. Thanks for the great post! I eat meat but we have greatly reduced the amount to create a healthy balance. We eat pork instead of beef and eat more chicken and fish so when it really comes down to it beef is a rare thing for us.

  2. Thanks Ross! Is pun intended? a "rare" thing for you?!

  3. Great post Kyria!

    I quit eating meat the day I got back from my 3-week backpacking trip in Europe (thank god because I ate a lot of meat over there!) HOWEVER, if I ever go on a big trip like that again I think I would maybe eat meat occasionally. Especially if it was a specialty or something. I would hate to miss out on the experience that I might never have again.

    At the same time, the idea of eating meat kind of makes me grimace so who knows if I will or not? Only time will tell!

  4. That was a great post, love the irony! Stopping by from Friday Fitness!

  5. Great post! We eat less red meat recently .. i kinda miss it! lol