Last night I ate meat for the first time in almost 10 years.
I became vegetarian because I wasn't comfortable letting the market do something for me that I wouldn't be able to do myself. My motivation was less to do with animal rights and environmental activism and more about personal responsibility. Every few years I've asked myself if this decision was still right for me. It was usually a simple evaluation: would I be able to kill an animal to eat when I had viable alternatives?
Reading A Vegan No More kicked off the evaluation process again, inspiring a deeper assessment than usual. I starting thinking about whether I lived up to this principle in the rest of my life. I couldn't honestly say that I did. It started to seem like not eating meat was an easy way to feel as though I was being responsible, without really having to do anything of consequence. There's also the issue of ignoring the animals that are killed in the production of non-meat products, which in many ways is also getting the market to do my dirty work.
Moreover, I've started questioning the underlying principle itself. Do I really believe that it's possible, or even desirable, to apply my personal morality to every link in the production chain of every product I purchase? It's hard to align that with my belief that specialisation and trade improves everyone's lives. I need to put some more thought into this to work out where I stand.
Meat-wise, last night was a feeling out process to see if I had any physical or emotional reaction. Unsurprisingly, emotionally I had none. Stopping was more of an intellectual than emotional decision and I didn't expect starting again to be any different. Physically I felt.. weird. The eating itself was all good(sichuan beef, mmm). My body is definitely not used to digesting meat though. I felt incredibly full for hours and it was offputting having something so hard to digest in my stomach. Just being conscious that I was digesting was quite bizarre. Unlike Trish, I didn't feel a rush of euphoria and like everything was right with the world. Then again, I haven't been malnourished, nor did it ever feel like I was denying myself anything.
Where to from here is still up in the air. I don't feel particularly strongly about meat either way. If I do incorporate it into my diet it will be infrequently and from 'ethically' raised animals.
After a few days it's become pretty clear that meat is going to be part of my life. My squeamishness about killing has also gone, which removes any lingering moral dilemma. Reading about places like Lillydale Farm also made me happy.
Although I'm not seeing the sort of miraculous change that Trish saw, I have noticed that I can eat a lot less, be full for longer and seemingly concentrate better. I doubt this is meat per se - just the effects of a solid lump of protein. While possible to get that as a vegetarian, it takes a lot more effort.