My 18 year old self would never have believed it. For some reason while growing up a meal didn’t quite seem complete if meat wasn’t included somehow. I was the Barney Gumble at Homer’s BBQ. Even after I became a dietitian the type and quantity of meat I chose to eat certainly changed but it was still a relatively rare occurrence for a lunch or dinner not to include meat or fish of some kind. This is no longer the case.
There are a few reasons for this.
It’s partly due to availability. We don’t eat out that often, so we largely rely on foods we buy in the supermarket. And the supermarkets I regularly visit essentially have two types of meat available at the deli counter – chicken and beef. One place has fish/seafood too. That’s pretty much it though. No pork. No lamb, turkey or bison. It’s a bit of a change from what I’m used to for sure.
Much of the meat that is available in supermarkets here is of questionable quality. To put it nicely the meat counter can smell a like a slaughter house. It’s kinda gross. It doesn’t exactly make you want to pick up a steak while passing through that section of the store.
I have real concerns about the food safety standards here in Egypt. Somehow I suspect there aren’t the same regulations we have in Canada about temperatures, cross contamination, etc. If there are, from what I’ve seen, the workers are not following them. Fortunately, we haven’t experienced any serious bouts of food poisoning, but it’s probably mostly luck. To minimize the risk of getting sick, the meat/fish we buy tends to be frozen, but obviously that’s not exactly ideal either.
In addition to the lack of availability and questionable quality, the meat here is pretty darn expensive – at least comparatively speaking. The cost of beef is roughly the same price as what it costs in Canada. Chicken’s a little cheaper. But when you consider that our income level is nowhere near what it was back home, it becomes a lot easier to look for other options.
It may sound like I’m complaining, but honestly I’m not.
The produce here is amazingly good. I really love how cheap and fresh fruits and vegetables are here year round. I’m still learning exactly when certain items here are “in-season” but it’s great that you can always find lots of local produce. It’s also been cool learning to make regional vegetarian dishes, like koshary and couscous tabbouleh.
Plus there’s the added benefit of vegetarianism being quite healthy 🙂
So while I’m not sure I’ll ever completely swear off meat, I could definitely see this trend continuing even after we return to Canada.