It’s been more than half a year of ‘turning’ vegetarian – well, turning isn’t the most exact word since I’ve had meat a few times in the span of these 9 months, and grad trip wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t eat seafood as well, but for lack of a better word, turning it shall be.
Like most things, it’s not as eventful or life-changing as I thought it would be, it’s pretty normal in fact. There’s no huge pang of loss when I think of what I can’t eat, nor is there an intense craving for any meats, no bitterness thinking another person’s meal looks so much more appetising than mine (u n l e s s, the only vegetarian thing on the menu is aglio olio – which has only happened once – in which case, shame on you for making me eat there).
Meat is an interesting thing, one that I’m still trying to grapple with. Where do I draw the line as to what is acceptable to eat or not? Ironically, I enjoy looking at raw meat, at red carcasses and butchers serving up portions. Perhaps it’s how visceral it is, how much closer we are to meat consumption when we see it carved up like that. Which, I guess, is one of the reasons why I decided to stop eating meat in the first place: because of how removed we are from the whole process of obtaining meat.
Sure, you may argue, that we are pretty removed from how crops are farmed as well – and yes, it’s true that lots of people would have had to slog their guts out, maybe sometimes in unethical ways, to get that dish of steaming spinach in front of you – but there’s something different about out-sourcing the responsibility of taking another being’s life. (Plus, the meat industry has terrible work standards as well – though that’s knowledge gleaned only from reading about meat packaging in America.)
See, that’s my current struggle. It’s easy to draw the line and say: no, I’m not going to eat cows or pigs or chickens. But when it comes to little shrimp, the heibi in my cabbage, does it become okay? (Laziness says it is because it’s too much effort to pick out all the heibi, and food options become way too limited if I rule out all dishes at the caifan store which have heibi in vegetables.) Defining what seems alright and what seems not is something that’s been on my mind for the past couple of months – especially when social etiquette may say that it’s much easier for everyone if you just eat seafood, since it’s troublesome to make exceptions (such as the upcoming National Day crab party).
I’m not sure, and I don’t think I’ll be sure for a long while. Until then, what I think is most important is to just do what makes sense to me. There isn’t much of a need to justify my eating habits to anyone else; and as my dad pointed out, there’s no need to call myself a ‘fake vegetarian’ to justify why I still drink soup even if it may have been boiled with pork bones, or eat vegetables fried with oyster sauce. (Then again, despite my constant in-eloquence, I’m a great believer in the power that words have and the importance of being clear in what you’re saying.) What matters most, something which applies to more than just this whole meat-eating thing, is being true to what you want to be, and being free to be yourself.
So, a) no, it’s not a phase nor am I doing it because it seems cool; b) no, I didn’t turn vegetarian for Samson; c) I don’t really miss meat; and d) #vegetablesrocksmysockscommunityclub.