I used to be a vegetarian

Back in 2013, I decided to become a vegetarian. I followed a meat-free diet for a solid year. I didn’t stick to it because I never had a good reason for becoming a vegetarian in the first place.

There were circumstances that lead me to the decision, but none of them were strong convictions.

1. It was my fourth year in res and I was tired of figuring out the mystery meat on my plate.

2. You can only live off so many cans of tuna before realising you can go without it.

3. I wanted to lose weight.

4. Not eating meat made me feel good (healthier, like I had more energy).

5. I didn’t miss meat.

During this brief stint there were a few reactions I observed from people (omnivores/ meat-eaters). They were always curious about why I decided to stop eating meat. Some would jump to conclusions like: animal lover, religion or eating disorder. Well, I love animals regardless of whether I eat meat or not. I think Jesus ate meat and high school is over. Of all the things that people should be outraged about, I didn’t think vegetarianism would be met with negativity.

There were positive responses here and there, mostly from vegetarians. I think it’s because they were so excited to meet other vegetarians. That was the fun part, meeting other vegetarians to exchange recipe ideas, because curried lentils become monotonous after a while.

There were also amusing encounters with people. This one girl insisted I eat fish, after I told her I was vegetarian. I ended up explaining what pescetarianism is, and she learnt something that night. I did too – people don’t know the difference between vegetarianism and pescetarianism. Also, people would expect me to dish out vegetables cooked in the same pot as meat (face palm).

Socials were really challenging. I avoided braais/barbecues. Once we had dinner at a family friend’s place. My mother forgot to tell her I was a vegetarian. I ended up eating rice and green salad. It was awkward for the host… It was awkward for me to pretend to like rice and green salad.

I would go out with friends and we’d have to pick out a restaurant that would have vegetarian dishes. That ruled out many places my friends would have preferred. I must say it was easy to decide what to eat. Some places have like three vegetarian dishes max. It was annoying to keep eating cheese with everything too. FYI to the restaurants out there: you can cook vegetables without cheese.

I really liked that I was eating more vegetables. You learn so many different ways of cooking vegetables. The only downside is that I had to take a number of vitamin supplements and iron tablets. (I don’t know how the other vegetarians do it, and it would be interesting to find out how they get all their vitamins and protein).

So I started eating meat again near the end of 2014. My parents insisted, and I had no good reason not to. Ironically, I live with a vegetarian now, so this meat-eating diet hasn’t gained much momentum.

I’m considering going vegetarian again, but I want it to be purposeful next time. I have been reading up on why some of the other bloggers decided to be vegetarians. Their reasons are radical, and it’s a good thing. I want my values to motivate me like that too.

[For a whole range of stories relating to different aspects of vegetarianism, click here]