Amy Tries Again


The Fallen Vegetarian – or – Eat All The Prawns
March 27, 2012, 6:22 PM
Filed under: Miscellanea

I became a vegetarian when I was 19 years old with a great amount of enthusiasm.  For the last nine years, save for unfortunate cases of mistaken food identity (I’m looking at YOU, spring rolls) and short bursts of veganism, I have lived la vida lacto-ovo.

This changed a few weeks ago.  I ate a tempura prawn, and there’s been no going back.  It was premeditated, of course.  I love grand gestures, and it was a very symbolic tempura prawn.  From that moment on, seafood would be back on the menu.

The whole vegetarian thing was probably, if not inevitable, highly likely.  A mostly vegetarian mother who spent the 80s in Greenpeace shirts (times have certainly changed), a childhood obsession with animals and a burning need for A CAUSE – it’s a wonder I didn’t embrace my destiny earlier.  I think I enjoyed disagreeing with my parents about Indian vegetarian food.  I couldn’t fight it forever, though, and in the tail end of my teens, its time had come.  I was born again, insufferable.  EW GROSS THAT IS A CORPSE IT IS DISGUSTING.  I had seen the light, and was on a mission to save others.

For the next few years I was a very happy evangelist.  I left stacks of PETA pamphlets in Rocking Horse.  I showed friends and family ‘Meet your meat’ videos.  I wept for the fate of the pigs.  I stencilled my own ‘meat is murder’ tshirt (in which I accidentally ate chicken at a Chinese restaurant in Edinburgh.  But that’s another story.).

At one point, I was cornered into veganism purely by my need to win.  Sad but true.  A boyfriend I had at the time was a keen consumer of steak, but suffered from anaphylaxis.  Eggs or dairy meant an extreme allergic reaction and were generally very bad news for him.  A particularly memorable date involved a soy cappuccino – the milk steamer for which had not been rinsed.  It was a good thing he carried an epi-pen.  Anyway, if we were to eat the same meal, our various dietary restrictions meant it had to be completely vegan.  In one of my fits of spreading the good word, I cajoled and ranted and showed him slaughterhouse videos until – FINE AMY – he agreed to have a crack at vegetarianism.  There was only one problem.  He was now, automatically, a vegan.  HE WAS WINNING.

There was nothing for it.  I didn’t like cheese anyway.  (That is a lie.)  We eventually discarded our diet changes, and, later, each other, but the notion of veganism was well and truly entrenched, and every few years from then on I’d go on a soymilk rampage, often at the same time as eschewing all artificial colours and flavours and giving up salt.  It never really stuck, though.  There was no such struggle with vegetarianism.  I powered along, accepting the fact that I could eat perhaps two things on the entire menu if I was really lucky.  I became obsessed with Asian vegetarian restaurants that used faux meat made from wheat gluten.  Okay, I became obsessed with fake meat in general.

This, it seemed, was just my lot in life.  I calmed down a lot.  I stopped holding sermons at the dinner table.  I was much less insufferable.  I thought it was permanent.

Gradually, though, perhaps over the last two years or so, I started to get a bit resentful.  It was very slow at first, a creeping discontent I didn’t really notice to start with.  In everyday life, vegetarianism was very easy, but the times where it wasn’t irked me more and more.  A trip to Japan was agonising.  Everything – EVERYTHING – contained fish stock at the very least.  A lovely birthday surprise of an early morning hot air balloon ride and breakfast at a winery after turned into me being filled with the feeling of being hardly done by because the vegetarian (breakfast, mind you) alternative was an odd, tired potato curry.

Worse – and I can’t resist this, so I apologise in advance – it was all making ME an odd, tired Currie.  For years I’d waved the flag of PEOPLE GET TOO MUCH PROTEIN ANYWAY, but hadn’t really considered how I was feeling.  I wasn’t the picture of health.  My weight had gone up and down over several years, and I’d been fairly overweight and depressed at times.  I don’t think vegetarianism was the cause of that.  Many people thrive on vegetarian diets, and a lot of my food issues were caused by unrelated food crazies (I’m still working up to ranting about that online, but the crazies are vast).    However, my diet wasn’t something that was helping me at that stage.

There was also the issue of tuna envy.  A neighbourhood cat had started hanging around, and being suckers for a demanding MEOW, the Young Man and I started feeding him.  Ash brought home a can of tuna, and we opened it for the cat.  Thing is, as soon as we opened the can – well, I really, really wanted that tuna.  Really.  This was alarming.

I’d started tracking my nutrition online, and was surprised by my protein intake.  There just wasn’t enough.  I was nowhere near the minimum daily intake.  I thought about throwing myself into supplements, food combining – anything.  Then I thought about my tuna lust.  Maybe, just maybe, this is what my body was after.  I googled the hell out of vegetarians who returned to eating fish, and found I wasn’t alone.  I had to laugh at this link from Psychology Today describing a survey of former vegetarians.  Apparently, ‘…the majority of the participants were women. Their average age was 28, and on average, they had been vegetarian for nine years before for reverting back to eating animals. ‘

Was this…was this just the END OF A PHASE?

Okay.  Seafood.  Just seafood.  That first prawn was very, very strange, but it was very, very strange for about 30 seconds, and then it was just a prawn.  I ate a prawn!  I was very proud of myself.  Since then, I’ve been blown away by the sheer variety of seafood available.  I can now eat about a third of the menu when I go out.  I don’t have to ask paranoid questions about fish stock when having Japanese or Korean (my favourites).  I have eaten octopus.  Me!  I ate octopus!  I’m not as bold when cooking for myself, though.  I don’t think I could manage cooking fish from raw just yet, but it’s only a matter of time.

For now, I’m classing it up with things like tinned tuna (I can’t believe how many varieties there are), ALL THE PRAWNS (yay!) and the terrible mock-crab seafood extender stuff that my nanna used to give me.  God, I love that stuff.  I know.  Random fish bits from the factory floor, bleached, dyed and steeped in chemicals.  Chicken nuggets of the sea.  I don’t care.  It’s very tasty and I don’t care how it’s made.  And that, kids, is something I really didn’t think I’d ever say.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I do believe this requires an update post… hmm?

Comment by Chicken

It would seem so, wouldn’t it? Duly noted.

Comment by Amy

[…] eat some potatoes.  As have never cooked a roast before, admire both decision-making prowess and bravery in the field of cooking meat.  Drag self to supermarket with list reading ‘MEAT OF SOME SORT’.  Ignore little voice […]

Pingback by Shankin’ – OR – Cooking With Food « Amy Tries Again




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