17 April 2008


Well, I broke yesterday, and it was absolutely delicious.
I've been sick for the past five days. In spite of antibiotics, I still feel like junk. I've been in and out of work all week, and the only thing that increased as my illness went on was my craving for meat. Now, for those of you who don't know, I haven't eaten meat in three months. I decided, after years of considering, to try vegetarianism. There are merits to being a vegetarian. For one, the grocery bills are a lot cheaper. However, my experiment only made me realize that meat is something the human body isn't meant to be without. My idealism, however motivated, probably can't undo the sheer realities of millions of years of evolution.
My meat craving reached its peak during a staff meeting yesterday, when the empty stomach and head cold worked together to erode whatever resistance remained to my idealistic and completely voluntary fight. When I left the office, I did the first thing that came to mind: I went to McDonalds, and bought a Quarter Pounder. You know what? It was the best meal I've had in a long time. I was almost afraid to eat it when I got it out of the box. I'd forgotten how hefty those things were - it felt remarkably heavy in my hands, especially after a diet of beans and rice. As I took the first bite, I was struck by how normal it all seemed: there was no hesitation, no funny taste or moment of Zen. If I hadn't known better, this could have been an every day happening. I sucked that burger down in about a minute and a half, and was immediately satisfied.
When I called my mom to tell her about this, she laughed for a good 20 seconds straight. I had to laugh, too. I knew this would happen. Of all things, that damned clown Ronald McDonald ended up being my downfall. All of that Happy Meal marketing back in the 80s paid off; they were the first place I turned after my meat-sobriety came to a voluntary and delicious end.
It was an interesting experiment - but I don't think I will bee repeating it anytime soon. For one, I'm not some rabid firebrand of an idealist. Besides, I don't drink very often, and don't smoke anymore. You know who else didn't eat meat, rarely drank and never smoked? Yeah. Hitler. I'd rather avoid the Hitler diet, thanks. Besides, not eating meat was really, well, boring. There's a reason that the human body craves meat - it provides nutrients and tastes good. I'm all for people being idealistic, but the more I look at it, the more I think meat is simply a part of life.
This isn't to say I've learned nothing from my experience. Now, I've learned to value whatever meat I eat as something that came from a living creature. Also, meat isn't something I can live without - but it's not something I think needs to be eaten every day. There are plenty of reasons to limit it as part of a diet. I heard on the radio yesterday that Chinese children are experiencing an obesity epidemic much like our own because they are eating meat every day for the first time in their lives (because their parents can afford it now). Meat served our ancestors well; it kept them alive in a rather difficult existence. This, however, isn't OUR existence. Now, with a sedentary lifestyle, people don't need the caloric benefits of meat because they don't require the same energy. It's an interesting change - our environment has changed from the one our ancestors were evolved to suit.
Enough of this heady talk - I'd like some fries with my reconversion.


Anonymous said...

Well, I am sorry that it didn't work out for you, but meat is something that people can most certainly live without. It's the old adage that eating meat=balanced diet. Vegetarians can have unbalanced and unhealthy diets, and so can people who eat meat. People also go through withdrawal for meat at first, much as people will crave cigarettes long after they have quit smoking.

And thanks a lot for comparing vegetarians to Hitler. While I realize you are (hopefully) joking, I imagine you may be feeling a little guilty for your reversion, hence the rant against vegetarians.

I'm not a rabid idealist, either; I quietly eat my tofu and beans and know in my heart that I am doing good for my own health and that of the earth's creatures.
So excuse me while I continue to feel good about the fact that I am not needlessly contributing to the torture and killing of animals, the destruction of forests and oceans, and global warming while I enjoy my completely satisfying, non-boring, well-balanced, and nearly-vegan diet.

All you had to say was that a vegetarian diet doesn't suit you, at least not at this time. An attack on vegetarians with the weak and the inaccurate statement that humans must eat meat to survive were unnecessary.

Heather V. said...

Methinks the vegetarian doth protest too much! I mean, defensive, much? I didn't get ANY of what you took from Joe's comments (and I certainly didn't take it as a "rant"); in fact, I came away with the feeling that he's rather supportive of vegetarians, but simply doesn't choose the lifestyle for himself. And that's his right, no? This is all his OPINION, anyway, so why are you getting all hostile?

In my experience, the most satisfying part of the vegetarian lifestyle is being able to constantly remind EVERYONE that you're "better to the Earth," "healthier" and somehow more responsible than meat-eaters (as you just did, while at the same time insisting that yours is a humble, "quiet" lifestyle). We get it, vegetarians - you're proud of yourselves. And we're all proud of you, too.

But, don't get too high on your certified-organic-grass-fed horse. I'll bet dollars to donuts that you still drive a car or ride a bus, use plastic products and purchase imported goods. And if so, you ARE destructing forests and oceans and contributing to global warming, and almost as much as the rest of us. Sorry.