Food & Drink

What happens when you stop being vegetarian?

A favourite: vegetarian pizza from Pizza Pilgrims on Berwick St

I was a vegetarian for the majority of my life.

As a kid 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 stuff, and it’s not all that 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 did make eating at friend’s houses a whole lot 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 some more 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 kid 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’ve never been vegetarian for ethical reasons, so why am I about to deny myself something I liked so much as a kid?

Well, I really loved it. So the next day I ordered a tuna salad. Damn! That was delicious. So that night I tried a few bites of pork, octopus and clams. Yum! The next day 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. Holy moly! It’s probably my newest favourite food. I like it mixed with chopped celery and shredded carrot, sometimes with a tiny bit of mayo mixed in. I imagine this would be a delicious lunch for a day at the beach.

Then on Monday, exactly one week after returning from Portugal, I did the surprising: I tried a beef burger.

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 SUCCEEDED!

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 – that I actually passed out in recovery position on the couch as soon as I came home. Then all day Tuesday my tummy was doing back flips, 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 “What happens when you stop being vegetarian?

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