A Temporary Omnivore

There’s probably no easier way to get press than to be a vegetarian who starts eating meat. A college student recently started a blog about switching to an omnivorous diet while in Paris, and she was able to write a piece about it for the blog section in yesterday’s New York Times. Her story is well-written, and much of it contains pro-vegetarian arguments that probably wouldn’t get read by certain omnivores if they were delivered by, say, Vegan Outreach.

So after reading this article, I visited the author’s blog. Turns out she just tried a meal of meat-containing dim sum:

My stomach growling and my senses overwhelmed, I eventually chose the dim sum stand and took one of every kind of meat-filled dumpling I saw. Well, why not? I asked myself. I’d never had non-vegetarian dim sum before, and these looked delicious.

Reader, they weren’t. The rice flour dough was gluey and gummy, the fillings greasy and rubbery. For the first time in my life, I truly appreciated what people mean when they talk about bad Chinese food. Furthermore, I truly appreciated what people mean when they talk about bad meat. The chicken was indistinguishable from the pork, which was indistinguishable from the beef. Each dumpling contained a bit of a carcass from a different factory-farmed animal, and each bit of carcass took flavorlessness to new heights.

So, while I think the author’s forays into temporary meat-eating is a bad idea, and you probably do as well, the weird thing is she’s obviously becoming disenchanted with her meat eating too, all the while writing articulately about it. Consider this from her Times piece:

Recently I ate my first hamburger, and though vague visions of wet-nosed cows flitted around my head, I couldn’t really muster the disgust I felt only a month ago. This doesn’t mean I’ve found meat irresistible. It tastes good, all right, and the effortless protein is nice, but I still sometimes feel that I’m being left out of a joke that everyone else gets. “Isn’t this fantastic?” people will ask as they watch me take my first bite of bacon, or steak, or boudin noir. I’ll nod politely, but the flavor of meat doesn’t really justify the death of an animal for me.

I come away from this feeling like she’s conscious she’s making a mistake, and that she’s keenly aware she’s violating her ethical standards by knowingly causing harm to other beings. Yet oddly, rather than taking this as a cue to stop this behavior, she’s writing poignantly about this ongoing mistake. Link.

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