I was a devout ovo-lacto vegetarian for two years. But somehow after that, I swallowed my first sushi roll. A bite of chicken followed.
What made me do it?
It’s funny. One evening, I was sitting on my couch watching the Japan episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. I had watched the show before (which never fails to cover meaty foods), but even then I never had any desire to eat meat. However, there was something about this particular episode that made me think the unthinkable: ‘non-vegetarian foods in Japan look really good’ I thought to myself. Fish sounds… good? Meat sounds good? I couldn’t process what was going in my head. As Mr. Bourdain bit into pieces of takoyaki, I lost it. ‘Where can I get takoyaki?’ I asked myself. ‘And what about a sushi roll and teriyaki chicken?’ I started craving meat so intensely after that episode that I drove to a sushi joint right then and there, and well, the rest is history.
Even before that incident though, my desire to become a carnivore again was subconsciously growing. I had just graduated from college and was talking about wanting to travel with friends, family, and anyone who would want to talk to me about it. After reading more about traveling and watching more episodes of No Reservations for inspiration, I concluded that if I ever did travel, vegetarianism just would not work. Though I’ll admit that the thought of eating animals will always be a little weird for me, it’s still worth experiencing different cultures for what they are, and cuisine is no exception.
What was the first bite of meat like?
At first bite, I tasted an unexpected spike of saltiness — a taste I never experienced as a vegetarian. I had forgotten what it was like to eat salty foods like meat. Even today I’m still not used to it. The texture of meat was definitely different too.
Now that I’m a vegetarian-turned-carnivore, what have I learned?
First and far most, it’s awesome to try things like vegetarianism even if people will criticize you for it. Why? Vegetarianism is a commitment. It helps you become more strong-willed and resistant to peer pressure. Trust me, I received so many negative comments when I was a vegetarian, like “So you’re not going to eat meat today at all?” and “Ew, you’re a vegetarian? What do you even eat?” But honestly, I did not felt like I needed to please anybody. Even if people pitied me for eating a salad when I could be eating a pulled pork sandwich, I did not care. I was happy with my salad, so why should they bother?
Honestly, I was much healthier as a vegetarian than as a current carnivore. As a vegetarian, my diet consisted of very little saturated fat because saturated fat is more highly concentrated in meat. My one health critique of meat-eating is that because it’s easier to make oily and saltier foods using meat, the array of unhealthy food choices is wider and the likelihood you will eat something higher in saturated fat is greater. If you are a vegetarian, your choices are more limited, and even if you have the capability to make unhealthy choices like eating a bag of potato chips, you are still more conscious about what you’re eating, because the whole concept of vegetarianism is dietary consciousness after all.
If you are a vegetarian-turned-carnivore like me, what was your experience like?