Returning to Eating Meat After Vegetarianism
Yes, I know. I know. I’ve been down this path before too and I am not ashamed. I first flirted with vegetarianism when I lived in Perth, Western Australia. If you have never been, please make sure you never go. Perth is a crappy place, full of sad and lonely people who don’t know how great the rest of Australia is. I feel bad for them. But it was in Perth that I first became a vegetarian.
I have a story about it. My friends and family have heard it oft-a-time, so skip over this part if you know me. It was a bright, sunny Perth day. I was alone, as I often am, enjoying a solo holiday at a cheap resort, probably between jobs, or men, or both… I can’t remember. I had made a trip to the local markets and being near the water I ended up with a lovely bag of fresh prawns. I took them home and set about de-shelling them.
I held each insect-like prawn in my hand and I felt the hard shell. Crushing it with a snap, I would then pull the head off the prawn, watching as this greeny-grey gunk oozed out of its body. I’d throw the head away, wondering how on earth that some people eat prawns’ heads as a delicacy. Then, I ran my fingernail along the back of the shellfish, and I pulled the hard shell away from the fleshy body, pulling off its legs, in clumps. Then I’d run my fingernail along the vein (or “poo pipe” as we lovingly call it here in Australia) and remove this so the flesh is now just a soft, white, un-insect-like thing.
I put them in a fry pan with some butter. Then I turned them onto my plate and turned on the TV.
There was a documentary on commercial fishing. It struck me then how you never see dead farm animals on TV. You never see a heap of dead cows, sheep or chickens. But you do see occasional shots of dead fish, still flapping, on conveyor belts.
There were so many fish. Some alive, some dead. Some moving vigorously, some still. I imagined what it must feel like to be in a pile of your dead brothers, some alive still. But I know that fish do not have the same consciousness levels as humans, so I feel a bit better.
But they do have some consciousness. Or some cognition. They do have feelings. They can defiantly feel scared.
On the conveyor belt on TV, there amongst the thousands of fish carcasses being carried to another place, a crab had also been caught in the nets. He was majestic, and still very much alive! He made a break for it. With the will of a creature that really wanted to live, he raised his little pincers to the sky and started to scramble over the bodies of the dead fish on the conveyor belt. Freedom! He seemed to say – I must find my way to freedom!
I looked down at the remaining prawns on my plate. How had they been caught and were they once as majestic as that crab? I tell you that crab spoke to me.
Many people who are occasional vegetarians also choose to eat fish. These are technically pescetarians. Because of my crab experience, fish, and particularly shellfish, are foods I really don’t like to eat.
Onto my flailing vegetarianism. For a while I have been vegan and I am still very passionate about vegan food. However, after some emotional trauma earlier in the year, I was unable to eat, sleep or function normally. The only foods that would go down were fast foods, take always and cheap crap full of preservatives. The thought of eating a bowl of oatmeal made me gag, the idea of eating a McDonald’s cheeseburger was like a safety net. For the first few weeks I could only manage a bite or two. I lost some weight. I felt just terrible.
But now I am happy again. I am feeling really, really good. And I am eating some meat. However, I still find it gross to cook and eat myself. I am happy to cook it for others, but then I don’t like to eat it. I have only cooked meat for myself (from scratch) once in the last year (can you believe it?) and I had to throw the lot away. I couldn’t face it.
I will not go on about this anymore. But I need to listen to my physical body and right now she likes meat. My mind may be an eternal vegetarian, but my body may require changes every now and then. There could be other reasons I am feeling attracted to eating meat. My earthy needs are changing. My body changes every day!
“…an Indian Tantric practice that emphasised the breaking of Hindu societal taboos by having sexual intercourse in ritual, drinking alcohol, eating meat and assembling in graveyards, as a part of the spiritual practice. The term Vama-marga literally meant “the left-hand way” in Sanskrit, and it was from this that Blavatsky first coined the term.” (source) Yup, I will not assembling in any graveyards – but you may catch me breaking the other societal taboos.