I stopped eating meat when I was 18 and started again a few months before turning 26. Throughout these 7 years I wasn’t what one would call an activist vegetarian. I never tried to convince anyone that they should go on an all vegetables diet (me, myself consumed eggs, cheese and milk), and only spoke in defense of it when I was provoked (people really care about what other people eat). I always considered it a personal lifestyle choice, the kind you shouldn’t push unto others or judge.
I strongly believe everyone is free to do whatever they damn well please, but it seems like the rest of the world would not agree. So after becoming a meat eater again, in spite of a 7 year abstinence, I now get the question ‘Why did you do it?’. It’s fair. After behavioring in a certain way for so long and stopping abruptly, I myself questioned my actions and even tried to get back on the wagon. I couldn’t. Once you go meat you can’t easily go back.
The main reason I started eating meat is because I started craving it. It may be that I was going through a difficult and pretty stressful moment in my life back then (one of the most) and my body couldn’t handle the lack of protein. Or just maybe I stopped caring about all the things that made me vegan (though I doubt it, I still love animals). I think it was a transition from the person I was to the person I became. The person I was didn’t eat meat. The person I became did.
As I mentioned, a couple of months in, feeling a little lost, I decided to give it up again. I would say: I need to be the old me again and the old me wouldn’t do this. But it didn’t stick. The old me was gone. I felt guilty and kind of a hypocrite. I always stood behind my beliefs to myself if not to anyone else. I felt like I was betraying myself and all the work I had done until then. It may seem like a small thing, it’s just another food, but it was more than that.
I always enjoyed food and especially meat before I become a vegetarian. So having this one, very generous options, back on the table (pun intended) opened up a whole different culinary world. Pizza was different, burgers were a first time experience (yep!) and hot wings, oh wow! Now I finally realised what the phrase ‘I don’t know how you can live without meat’ meant. It’s freakin’ delicious. It was not just that I couldn’t give it up, I didn’t want to and I still don’t.
I started feeling less guilty, but still questioned what happened and how my beliefs could change, practically, overnight. I don’t really recall the exact moment I put the first piece of steak (or whatever it was) in my mouth, it just happened. It’s strange how you can go all these years believing strongly in something and losing it.
Let me tell you this: never say never, because it happens. You grow out of it or you stop understanding it or it just doesn’t feel as important as it used to in light of a different situation. You know the feeling, you have certainly felt it, whether it was a band you liked, a person you loved or a food you craved. That’s the beauty of being human, actually.
You evolve, you change and you should. You learn new things, experience new things, encounter life changing situations, you can’t expect to have the same view on life that you had 10 years prior. So, with difficulty, I accepted that about myself. I had changed in one year more than I had in the previous 7 and decided to give myself a break. Sticking to the person I used to be was hurting me and I needed to let her go in many ways than one.