On a bitterly cold day back in December 2008, I bit into a sausage. Having been vegetarian for more than five years at the time, I had not intended to bite into a sausage. But bite into a sausage I did and—with a jolt—realised that I didn’t care. Any other time I’d ever bitten into some meat by mistake (usually at a do in a pub where they serve those party platters of indistinguishable fried beige food), I would either politely spit it out or else chew really quickly and swallow it and try to forget about the whole ordeal. This ambivalence I felt, though, was strange but I took its message on board and decided to no longer be a full-time vegetarian then and there, more or less.
So, I started eating meat again: there was the chicken sandwich I had at my parents’ (tasty enough), a rice bowl with beef in a Japanese restaurant (satisfying), a duck over lentils dish (decidedly not delicious), a bit of turkey at Christmas (dry). I had thought that eating meat again would open up a whole world of possibilities, that I’d have so much more choice, that I wouldn’t always be stuck with the lacklustre-it’ll-do option, that I could read the whole menu instead of having to focus on those little v’s the whole time, that everything would be delicious, but instead what I found was that the meat-eating world was just a bit . . . disappointing. For a start, instead of having more choice, the menus in restaurants just had a lot of the same thing over and over again: chicken or beef, chicken or beef, just like on an Aer Lingus flight. The taste of it, while very familiar, didn’t excite me, nor make me feel nostalgic, and it was really only the red meat that gave me any sort of boost, energy-wise. And I never could bring myself to buy or cook raw meat.
The reactions of meat-eaters to my renewed meat-eating ways had more than a hint of “yes, welcome back to the fold, join us!” and “yes, yes, you need meat” and “you don’t want to be missing out.” There was also the classic record-scratch what?!! All in all, these sentiments only served to feed my suspicions about the whole meat thing.
Then, I went to Portugal on holidays and ate a ham sandwich, a whole chicken, and a lifetime’s worth of fish. I came home and started thinking about becoming vegan.