Food & Drink

No longer a vegetarian: what happened when I ate meat for the first time in 10 years

A favourite: vegetarian pizza from Pizza Pilgrims on Berwick St

I was a vegetarian for the majority of my life.

As a child I didn’t like meat. I thought it tasted disgusting, it had a weird texture and it smelled funny. I’d push it around my plate, complaining about how I didn’t like swordfish/ meatballs/ chicken/ turkey/ tuna/ whatever it was my parents were serving up for dinner. My solution? I’d put the meat on someone else’s plate. (That or I’d scrape it into the bin, causing mom to complain that I was wasting food.)

It wasn’t long before my parents just let me eat heaps of vegetables and mashed potatoes; I liked that, and it’s not too bad for you either.

Then when I was a teen (or maybe a tween, none of us can really remember when it happened) I announced I was a vegetarian. No one in the family was surprised, and it made eating at friend’s houses easier with fewer parents insulted that I didn’t want to eat their cooking. (After all, I was a vegetarian: Of course she won’t want the meatballs! Better put extra salad on her plate…)

It’s now just over 10 years since I announced I was vegetarian, and I’ve got a new announcement: I’ve started eating meat and I like it.

What happened?

Trying clams in Lisbon.

I grew up in a predominantly Portuguese city, and as a child I loved chorizo. Actually, chorizo was the only meat I remember liking. (Which is pretty ironic considering it’s so meaty!)

Anyhow, I liked chorizo. And when I went to Lisbon earlier this month I decided to try some. Afterall, I wasn’t a vegetarian for ethical reasons, so why am I about to deny myself something I liked so much in childhood?

Well, I loved it. I’d also been dreaming about tuna sandwiches for weeks, so the next day I ordered a tuna salad – my first one ever – and that was delicious, too. Then I tried a few bites of pork, octopus and clams. Yum! Next I tried ham… you see where this is going.

I like it raw

Sorry, that joke was just way too easy!

When I came back from Portugal I started eating tuna. It’s probably my newest favourite food. I like it mixed with chopped celery and shredded carrot, sometimes with mayo mixed in. I imagine this would be a delicious lunch for a warm, sunny day at the beach.

Then, exactly one week after returning from Portugal, I did the surprising: I tried a beef burger. Surprising because, even as a child, my fast food order was: cheeseburger without the burger, extra pickles. That’s right: I was ordering a bun with cheese, pickles, onions, and the usual condiments.

With the emotional support of my friend Amanda, I went to Byron and devoured their legendary Byron burger, complete with bacon and their special sauce. (Ok, let’s be real – she cheered me on till I finished eating the whole burger over an hour later. That’s called dedication.) It was like my own personal Man v. Food challenge, and I my pride didn’t want me to give up.

Then I realised just what I did to my body.

After eating the burger I was so bloated and feeling so ill – my poor tummy has no idea what to do with beef! When had I last eaten this much meat?! – that I actually passed out in recovery position on the couch as soon as I came home. The whole of the next day my tummy back flipped constantly, which made my yoga class a miserable experience.

My first beef burger in about 20 years; I went straight for the bacon.


So far I’ve only had one person even sort of give me a hard time about it, but surprisingly (to me, because I honestly didn’t expect this) most people were happy I’ve started eating meat, even recommending places for me to eat!

Here’s a small selection from Twitter:

How often do you think you’ll eat meat?

Surprisingly, I’ve been getting that question a lot.

The short answer is: I don’t know.

The long answer is: I’ll have it when I feel like it, but the fact remains that I honestly prefer vegetables. That, and I don’t like how meat upsets my tummy. I’m thinking this will become a special occasion thing, an every-now-and-again thing, but I highly doubt it will be an everyday thing.

But only time will tell. Till then, I’ve got a tuna sandwich and 10 minutes left of my lunch break.

Even my tuna sandwich has more veg than fish!

2 thoughts on “No longer a vegetarian: what happened when I ate meat for the first time in 10 years

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