Confessions of the worst vegetarian ever.
Sho. What. A. Week. This week was, horrid. I was on so much medication, and the boys were on school holidays, and work doesn’t stop. How I functioned through all of it is a modern miracle mystery. Or something. The past month or so I’ve been getting really sick. And I honestly hardly ever get sick. I run, I gym, I eat (mostly) super healthy – I love fruits and salad and bran and grains and crunchy leafy green things. You’d have a hard time getting me to eat any junk – to be honest. If I feel like something yuck (YUM) then I’ll make some sweet potato chips with loads of mayo or something. I’m super proud and careful about what I eat most days. So let’s take an unbalanced, unhealthy diet off the table right here.
About 2 months ago, I cut meat out of my diet but still ate fish. I felt better than ever – really. Skin cleared up a lot, I felt lighter, healthier, lost weight and just all-round great. Then I (quite accidentally, really) stopped eating fish or seafood for another month. I just hadn’t gone out of my way to put tuna in anything and we hadn’t been for sushi. Our local grocer’s fish is hella expensive, so I was like “I’ll get when I do the big shop” and that just never happened. Maybe I’m supposed to be telling you what a good person I am cause I didn’t eat meat but honestly it just happened. And at the same time all this other stuff happened.
I got a bad tummy bug. I got flu. I got mild tonsillitis. I got an ear infection. My eardrum burst. All of this in like a 6 week period I think. I usually get sick once a year or so, like most of us. After the third night of being up ’til 3am with a hot water bottle on your ear, you kinda lay awake and start trying to figure out WTAF is wrong with you. I started getting sick when I cut out the healthy fats and proteins found in fish. I think. I’m pretty sure.
Then I thought “nah…” because Noah has been vegetarian for 3 years and that kid NEVER gets sick. In his whole entire life I remember him being sick once, when he was about 2. He is a healthy, brainy, happy and super active child. So… wtf. I spoke to my brother cause he was vegan I think for 5 years and now vegetarian for 4 years and he used to get sick too. He had to go for injections and all sorts of things but he got really sick. Then I spoke to my friend Kate who was vegan, then vegetarian since 2009 and she didn’t go through this. So what gives.
So after laying in the doctor’s room for several hours (hellooooo sick bed) after another injection (this time for a reaction against penicillin or the cortisone or something) and after throwing up for 6 hours straight, I had a tuna sandwich. And it felt good. And I felt stronger. Sorry I know I’m supposed to be all YOU DON’T NEED MEAT and SAVE THE OCEANS, but I felt a bit of strength come back. Two nights after that, I cooked some boerie rolls. I was all ‘blue steel’ frying those onions and sausage like a malnourished starving animal. I wasn’t craving meat-meat, but I was trying to find a solution. The spinach for my pop-eye, if you must. I got in bed with my boerie (haha) and settled in to some series. It wasn’t until there were 3 bites left that it happened: the taste. It tasted like meat. Like flesh. Dead, rotting, bloody flesh. And come now guys, I had eaten meat since I was like 6 months old – THIRTY YEARS I kicked back the burgers, mince, chops, lamb – loved it. But I swear to God, it was the most disgusting, foul taste.. like I was eating something dead. And I frantically tried to tell Graeme and my mom and they were like “yeah but technically that is what you ate” and I was just like… “No but you don’t understand, when you stopped eating it, it tastes SO DIFFERENT.” It does. When you grow up with meat, it’s just a thing – a thing your mom dishes up with mashed potatoes and green beans and rice and you eat it and you love it, because you know it and it’s awesome.
Having not eaten red meat for two months – it really adjusts your palette. Like.. re-sets everything. I wasn’t disgusted on an emotional or ethical level, I was mid-way through my favourite show and not even thinking about it. I just needed that gross taste out of my mouth as soon as possible. I got in my car and drove to the garage and bought like a handful of ghost pops and juice and chocolates (sooo much better, right?) and anything I thought would get the taste away. The taste, it’s like… iron, metal. Like when you cut your finger as a kid and you lick at it (we all have) (yes even you) and you taste blood and you’re like “gross how do vampires do this….” That is what meat tastes like after you stop eating it. And meat is meat whether it’s dog or human or cow or baby sheep – it all tastes the effing same to me now. My point is – you’d probably go through the same thing.
Anyway, I’m like the worst vegetarian / pescetarian ever. The other weekend I accidentally ate chicken samoosas at Noah’s sports day. Graeme had a packet of them and I was like “yeah gimme some” and like two days later I was like “oh wait…” and felt like I had to do the vegetarian equivalent of Hail Marys but I didn’t know what that was. And it’s hectic, man. Vegans and vegetarians can be soooo hectic. A friend of mine is vegetarian and she was like “yeah I eat fish sometimes but don’t tell people” and my brother felt some flack when he went from vegan to vegetarian for health reasons. And then the vegans are like “Oh, the bad and unhealthy vegetarians are putting the good ones to shame” but it’s not like that. Some people really get sick, you guys. I opened the convo on twitter, and dozens of people said they had to go back on to animal proteins or dairy or something. Another friend of mine got sick on a vegan diet, then switched to vegetarianism. People don’t want the animals to suffer, and people are trying but it’s hard in the beginning. Maybe it’s easier for some (and I applaud you) but changing your diet and life-long habits in any way is hard. I felt so much better when Kate told me that it literally takes years to fully adjust. And now I don’t feel so bad about my failings and accidents and sickness and wanting to self-harm over eating 3/4 of a boerie roll.
I don’t know why I got sick, or why some do and some don’t. It might be a detoxing process – maybe Noah’s system was young and strong enough to adapt. Maybe some people have better immune systems, and there’s research on different blood types needing different nutrients. I’m not going back to red meat, because it tasted like something that had maggots in it (for real) but I will still eat fish now and then. I think I need to. And maybe I’ll wean myself off of that eventually. Maybe I’m not as hard core as I thought I was, and getting ‘that’ sick really humbled me. Something about sitting on your bed at 1am with a toilet plunger to your face that makes you really consider your life and actions.
So I am saying this:
I don’t want to eat dead animals. I don’t think it’s cool to eat blood or have any part in the suffering of another earthling. I also know (and you should too) that colon cancer is most common amongst people with a diet rich in red and processed meat. Not nice to think about, but do yourself a favour and google “colon cancer” in case you have any doubts. I am shit scared (see what I did there) of that type of cancer. Right now, it’s the third most common type of cancer – globally. Anyway… I am saying: take care of yourselves and listen to your body and keep it strong. Do your research. Tonight a friend asked what plant based proteins I am eating and I was like “what is that” because even though I’ve been eating all those foods she mentioned like beans and lentils – I didn’t know that they’re proteins. Cause I’m the worst. So if you’re looking for a list of meat alternatives that nourish all the right boxes, find one here.
Anyway, I know I said I wouldn’t be talking about this anymore, but I’m still sitting here with a stack of meds next to me wondering how the heck this all happened. I’m putting it down to detox, and I’m eating some fish again. And getting back to the gym tomorrow and hoping that this is the last of it. So if you’re going through this transition and it’s not all hunky-dory world peace vibes, then that’s okay. Tiny little steps need to be taken at your own pace. Saving the world is HARD work you guys. Kidding. I think I’ve saved like, half a cow. Maybe a drumstick. And in light of all this negative, ranty sulky vibes… Here’s a picture my brother took while we were at the beach yesterday. Dudes chilling with dolphins. We live in a beautiful world, people. Let’s all be kind to each other.