I don’t eat pork. But sometimes, when situations call for it, I break this rule and get my share of swine sustenance every now and then.
I was really young when my mom converted to a certain religion that bans pork diet. Years later, even when mama has stopped going to church, we still don’t eat pork at home.
Visiting friends’ houses when I was younger was particularly stressful. Upon learning that I couldn’t eat kare-kare or crispy pata, my friends’ parents would quickly concoct a no-pork meal that usually involved Ligo sardines or Argentina corned beef. I never had bacon, isaw or sisig until much later in life.
I used to be very strict about this rule not because I was scared I would go to hell but because I was used to it. No ham, no lechon. The turning point, however, was during an event for a writing organization that I joined back in college. It was an initiation of sorts where new members had to go through challenges before being officially inducted as official members.
B, a member of the org and a friend that I met through blogging, asked me if I had any dietary restrictions. I told him I don’t eat pork for religious reasons. He said okay, he would take note of it. He also mentioned in passing that this no-pork rule does not really adhere to Karl Marx’s idea of dialectic materialism. To B, there was no material or objective basis for my diet preference; religion or biblical verses do not count as a concrete, rational justification to not eat pork.
I was 18 at that time. I don’t remember the first ever pork dish that I ate but after that conversation with B, I started eating pork whenever there’s no other option. I tell my friends to not cook a special meal for me, to tell their parents that it’s okay—baboy lang ‘yan. Except for the sisig cooked by EJ’s mother, I never really found any pork dish to be particularly delicious. I believe even Tita’s sisig could still be as delicious if made with beef instead.
But just this Tuesday, after a two-hour photo walk around Rundle Park, my friend E and I went to Shanghai 456, a Chinese restaurant here in Edmonton. I wanted to try their xiao long bao, a pork steamed bun that’s supposedly the best in the city. And true enough, it was probably the only meal made with pork that I would be willing to eat again. I also tried the beef dumpling but did not like it as much as the pork one.
Still, I don’t think I can ever be a regular pork eater. It’s a preference that may have started because of pious devotion, but I choose to stick with it because it is arguably the healthier option. It’s a step closer to my goal of becoming full vegetarian, one meat at a time.