I ate meat on Friday for the first time in over four years, willingly and knowingly.
French onion soup and a chicken Caesar salad for lunch, and lasagna with meat sauce for dinner. I ate chicken enchiladas yesterday for lunch.
Needless to say, I’m no longer a vegetarian.
I’ve been thinking about eating meat again for several months, and my reasons for the thoughts kept adding on until it was time to take the plunge.
Just as going vegetarian is a personal choice fueled by various reasons for those who choose to do so, so is choosing to become an omnivore after years as a vegetarian. Perhaps I’m writing this blog post partly out of guilt — I don’t need to justify my dietary choices, after all — but I’m also writing it for anyone who’s thought about doing the same but feels like they just can’t take that final step into the formerly known. Maybe my reasons and thought processes are ones you can resonate with. If not, maybe I can at least help you start thinking about your own or ease some of the guilt I’m sure you feel.
Eating a healthy diet
One of the major reasons I became a vegetarian was to get healthy. It forced me to pay attention to what I was eating in order to get the right nutrients. However, over the past year I haven’t been able to stomach dinners anymore, anticipating them instead with disdain and even dread. In short, food has become boring and bland to me. So many vegetarian-friendly foods are not ones that I love: quinoa, kale and other leafy greens, broccoli, lentils, nuts. My recently diagnosed soy allergy also restricts non-meat protein sources and most Asian foods. Because of my food aversions and allergy — and my potential laziness and lack of creativity — my meals have become carb- and dairy-heavy. I’ve asked myself, “What is being a vegetarian accomplishing anymore? Am I truly healthier for being one?” The answer is all too obvious: “No.”
Battling frequent injuries and fatigue
As a runner, I’ve spent the past year chronically injured, and it’s been devastating. I missed the first marathon I trained for and what would have been my sixth half-marathon. While much of that was due to overtraining and a lack of rest, I want to find out if eating meat will give me more energy and help strengthen my bones (two bone bruises in one year really makes you think about what’s going on). It’s not to say that runners can’t be vegetarians and vegans; there are scores who are and achieve amazing feats, but I want to find out if eating meat again will translate to a healthier me.
Complementing my CrossFit workouts
Since adding CrossFit to my workout regime, I came home from hard WODs unable to satisfy my hunger no matter how much food I ate. As a result, I ended up eating ice cream sandwiches in bed at 9 p.m. because my stomach was still growling. While numerous CrossFit athletes are vegetarians and vegans who compete at high levels, my vegetarian diet didn’t seem to be cutting it even for someone who only does CrossFit twice a week. I want to get full and stay full, and I want to fuel my burgeoning muscles. I want to ensure I’m getting all the protein I need without having to eat the aforementioned protein-rich vegetarian foods that I don’t even enjoy.
Wanting and missing foods
Meat absolutely repulses numerous vegetarians and vegans, and I completely understand why. For many years, it repulsed me. For the past few months, though, I’ve craved it. The smell of taco meat sizzling on the stove, a waft from the neighbor’s backyard barbecue, a plate of steaming spaghetti and meatballs, a pepperoni pizza fresh out of the oven. When I told Blake I wanted to eat meat again, I rattled off the list of foods in my head that I’ve been wanting to eat for a while now. It’s clear that my body is telling me something, and I’m finally ready to listen and give in.
This is not an end-all-be-all decision. I may become a vegetarian again in the future, and I don’t plan on eating meat at every single meal now. I do, however, plan on achieving balance, just as I’m trying to do athletically. I plan on looking forward to meals, and trying foods and recipes that have been off-limits for years. I plan on getting excited about food again and hopefully becoming a better, stronger runner and all-around athlete.
Unfortunately, I won’t be striving to eat meats from small, local farms that were humanly raised and killed. It’s just not in the budget for me to do so. Do I feel guilty for that choice? A little bit, but I also feel guilty for being afraid to go back to eating meat because of what people would think and the huge change it would bring to my life.
Despite my choices for returning to meat, being a vegetarian was a wonderful experience. It helped me lose weight and embrace physical activity more than I used to — it was a major catalyst that transformed me into the athlete I now am. It taught me to cook and find new, unique recipes. In some ways, it even brought me to Blake. One of the major reasons I didn’t live on campus at college was because of the dining options, and I probably would’ve never done online dating had I lived on a college campus. Additionally, one of the first things that made me like Blake was his insistence on taking me out for dinner on our first date, not coffee, and finding a place where I could happily order off the menu.
Moving forward, I don’t want to answer endless questions about why I’m eating meat again. No one should have to be badgered about their dietary choices. It was something I didn’t appreciate as a vegetarian, and it’s something I won’t appreciate now. You can, however, invite me out to lunch or dinner now with a little more ease. I’d love to sit down and chat with you!
I only have two concerns for my future as an omnivore. One: How will I annoy my father-in-law now? (He congratulated me when I told him about the change.) Two: What new quality will I adopt to complement who and what I am — someone who’s difficult 😉
If you’re a vegetarian or vegan who’s thinking about eating meat again, feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts. I just ask that you keep it positive!