Bratless summer


Tim Eggert

“All but the tail and the oink” are, originally, the ingredients to what has become one of the most iconic and shamelessly eaten symbols of an American summer: bratwurst. Once reflective of German efficiency, the pork-packed intestines have evolved into mass-produced beef sticks nestled in the buns of American culinary culture.

Simply known as a “brat,” the sausage is coveted by nearly all meat-consumers because of its taste, and its ability to holster condiments. I prefer a mess of sauerkraut with a side of brats. Others blanket one with baked beans. Most lay an effectively conservative bead of mustard down the middle.

Collectively, the brat and it’s variations are simple, a perfect duo in every serving. The infusion of jalapeño or cheddar into a brat is innovative, but my German heritage encourages an untainted order: bun, bratwurst, topping. As a patriotic American, I involuntarily associate brats with a sense of freedom. This liberation is exclusive to summertime, and brats fuel the feeling.

No summer is complete without the ubiquitous bratwurst alongside baseball and beer. If Uncle Sam wants you to eat meat, then you eat meat. The exclusivity of brats within social carnivory reflects the meat-central monoculture of American food traditions. In the Midwest, specifically, a unique balance of flavor and nourishment has diversified the brat to an irresistible status.

Despite my patriotic endowment to brats, however, I’ve given up the wieners through a declared independence from all meat. For the past month my diet has been meatless, and it seems that my summer will be bratless.

I justified my conscious choice “for the sake of health,” but hadn’t considered the unfamiliar reality of a no-meat summer. The switch to vegetarianism seemed fruitful, and with a single exception of a dream about bacon, it’s been painless to discontinue meat from my diet. Of course, I’ve experienced temptation, but with tolerance and endurance from a noticeable improvement in health it’s been kept afloat. Direct benefits from my produce pallette include: regular sleep cycles and balanced energy levels, minus the thought of brats.

Meat oriented food items can be mirrored by substitutional veggie options, including pork inspired sausages. With summer on the horizon, I must adapt my menu to alternatives: corn replaces the corn dog and beans take precedence to the brat. Admittedly, I’m going to miss brats because, subconsciously, I love meat.

Change, however, seems to be synonymous with summer. In a primordial sense, the shift in season aligns with the transition of oneself. Don’t get me wrong, more admirable sacrifices have been made than the elimination of meat from a summer-diet, but it feels sustainable. Why not, right? If any experimentation occurs, then now is opportune.

Perhaps an analysis of meat holds no effective stimulus, but my vanity requires me to weigh every diet decision, pound for proverbial pound. Modest meat consumption may be the most appropriate regulation to a diet, but transformation is inevitable; the extreme translates to experience.

Ultimately, this dietary variation can be temporary, and I’ll most likely cave from a craving at some point, but I don’t feel any less American by omitting meat. There’s some profound enhancement to personal, physical, and mental health through vegetarianism. I’m not claiming clairvoyance as a side effect, but some clarity may be expected. Until I transcend meat completely, I’m open to veggie-versions of all things edible, and I encourage every meat-eater to sample an amended consumption, or at least consider it.