I am constantly struggling with my vegetarian status. When I was thirteen, I swore off meat completely. The next year, I started boarding school, and four years later, I went to college, so it was never difficult to remain a vegetarian when the vast majority of my meals were prepared in a dining hall. And after nine years, vegetarianism was firmly ingrained in my eating habits, and it still is. But a year ago, when I started training for my first marathon, I decided to add turkey to my diet just to make sure I was getting protein to build enough muscle to get me through the race. And after the marathon was over, I kept eating turkey for a little while because, well, I liked it.
Within a few months, though, I gave up meat again. I found that I had become quite attached to my ‘vegetarian’ title, and I just couldn’t reconcile eating turkey and still calling myself a vegetarian (go figure). Since then, I’ve been a wishy washy vegetarian, never hesitating to taste a bite of a friend’s beef or chicken dish in a good restaurant, but never ordering or preparing it myself. I created an exception for when I was traveling, because who wants to go to China and never try Beijing duck or xiao long bao? Or visit Budapest without eating goulash? Jamaica without jerk chicken? No thanks. My favorite part of traveling is experimenting with local specialties, and trying to be a vegetarian in a foreign country is like trying to diet on vacation, and who wants to do that?
In the end, I’ve concluded that vegetarianism is like anything other dietary choice. If not eating meat is something that matters to you, following it 95% of the time is a whole lot better than nothing. And, more importantly, you save a lot of mental anguish by accepting that and not faulting yourself for that serving of turkey on Thanksgiving, or a piece of (this) delicious beef tenderloin on Christmas.
Five Peppercorn Beef Tenderloin
1 beef tenderloin (about 5 pounds)
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons coarsely ground 5-peppercorn blend
12 fresh large sage leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Rub the outside of the tenderloin with olive oil. Slather the mustard in a thin layer over the tenderloin. Sprinkle the peppercorn blend evenly over the meat. Place the sage leaves in a row down the center.Â Season with additional salt as desired.
3. Place the beef in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour, or until internal temperature is 135 degrees for medium rare. Let stand 10 minutes before carving.
Yield: 10 servings