My friends were right. I like chicken just a little too much. Admittedly, I’m a little embarrassed to be writing this, especially after I had written this. In my defense though, it took me a year and a half to cave.
It wasn’t so much the need for chicken, or meat in general, that made me cave. It may have had something to do with the fact that my hair was falling in record amounts everyday, owing very much to a diet severely deficient in protein. Living on my own was fine, I could tailor my diet to ensure I was getting protein sans meat (minus fish). Yet living at home with a family that finds vegetarianism, or anything remotely like it, just a little bit alien made it difficult to meet my needs when the default meal almost always included chicken. It may have also had something to do with my mother bemoaning the fact that I was somehow betraying the family by treading the path towards vegetarianism. Yet in all actuality, maybe it may have been because I just missed meat. It proved incredibly difficult to stay away from it, especially chicken, since I had been raised on it since I was born. Maybe I’m just weak.
Am I a bad person for becoming (something close to a) vegetarian? Am I even worse for lapsing?
Nairs traditionally eat meat. Maybe that’s why it seemed so unusual to most of my family that I would eschew meat. I kept fish because I thought that keeping at least that form of protein would ensure that my diet was complete, and would ensure that I maintained my intake of omega-3s and vitamins more commonly found in fish than vegetarian sources. Keeping fish–a Malayalee staple–also kept my family somewhat at ease, though not completely.
So why did I even pursue a path to vegetarianism to begin with? There are a few reasons:
1. Animal cruelty: The news is full of stories of meat processing plants mistreating their animals. Mistreating is probably the understatement of the year. PETA and vegetarianism were ubiquitous in the crunchy-granola environment of Ithaca, so it did rub off on me a little.
P.S. PETA wants to rename fish “sea kittens” in an attempt to make the public view fish differently, and perhaps stop eating fish. What do you think?
2. Religious reasons: Compassion is a cornerstone of Hinduism, which explains why so many Hindus are vegetarian.
3. I guess I just wasn’t into meat for a while.
Vegetarianism of course carries with it a long list of benefits, from better health (losing weight, lower LDLs, more fiber, etc.), to a healthier environment (less livestock being raised for meat, less methane emission). I still hold that reducing our meat intake is the only way to ensure some sort of humane treatment for animals, since much of the tactics being employed today are the result of the maddening demand for meat and the need to industrialize the process of raising and slaughtering livestock.
Vegetarianism is still the best option, but clearly I wasn’t ready for it on some level. I probably should have known when I was so reluctant to give up seafood.
I don’t think I entirely expected I’d lapse. Yet I think once I started to have very vivid dreams of eating meat again, I needed to address it. My diet was severely lacking in protein and it was affecting my health. Yes, I still ate seafood, but preparing decent seafood enough times per week was not something I was able to do. So I slipped and fell, or returned to my normal diet, however you’d like to look at it.
Do I feel a little guilty? Oh yeah. Do I think I’ll try to become a vegetarian again? Probably, though further down the road. Do I regret lapsing? Not entirely. I needed to address my health, that was the main reason I went back…though yes, some of it was caving into the general need for non-vegetarian fare. It’s not like I’m about to swing to the other end of the spectrum and go completely carnivorous and eat all kinds of meat. It’s just returning to what I would normally have before my experiment with pescatarianism. This translates to seafood, some chicken, but never beef. I’m trying to stick with organic sources, or at least theoretically organic sources (halal/kosher), though it’s so unfortunate that organic products are much more expensive than the run-of-the-mill variety.
Maybe once I’m living on my own, and have enough time to devote to preparing meals, I’ll venture back into vegetarian territory. Until then though…