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My struggle with going meatless

Darren Sharp | Fulcrum Staff

WHEN I WAS 19, I decided that I was going to stop eating meat. It wasn’t for any particular dietary or moral reason; I simply made up my mind one day that meat was no longer going to be something I ate.

I was, inarguably, the worst vegetarian ever.

It all started when I watched Super Size Me, the documentary that throttled the fast food industry by showing a man slowly ruining his body by eating McDonalds every day. Not only did it depict the nutritional issues with eating hamburgers regularly, but it also showed, in graphic detail, how terribly the animals that turned into my McNuggets and Big Macs were being treated.

When the film ended, my older brother, who was watching it with me, turned and said, “Darren, let’s become vegetarians.”

Just like that, I was transported to the world of chickpeas and moral superiority that vegetarians inhabit. As soon as I moved out of my parents’ house and back to Ottawa for another year of university, I completely cut meat out of my vocabulary. “Only tofu and soy protein for me!” I exclaimed, to no one in particular. I put my feet into the stirrups of my high horse and rode ferociously towards my new lifestyle.

It didn’t take long for me to begin cracking. It started with allowing myself to eat fish—something many vegetarians allow themselves to do, I maintained. Soon enough, chicken began to creep slowly back into the peripherals of my eating habits. I’d order it at a restaurant when I felt like treating myself.

“Aren’t you a vegetarian?” my friends would ask.

“Yes,” I would reply, my mouth full of cordon bleu.

The final straw came at Thanksgiving, the holy holiday of meat lovers. I’d gone home to visit my family. My brother, still staunchly vegetarian, demanded that my mother make him an alternative to the glorious turkey that was roasting in the oven.

“How about you, Darren?” my mom asked. “Will you be eating turkey?”

“Absolutely,” I responded, with zero hesitation. Hours later, I was gorging on that bird like it was my last meal, while my brother looked on incredulously from behind his vegetable-stacked plate.

I continued to call myself a vegetarian for two more years, even while I ate meat every time I went back to my hometown, explaining it away by saying it’d be rude to refuse my mother’s cooking. Even when back at school, I’d succumb to cravings on a near weekly basis. How was I supposed to turn down that 2:30 am pepperoni pizza, you know? I’m only human.

The point of the story is this: Whether it’s choosing to be a vegetarian or a more serious life decision, always have some sort of moral reasoning behind what you’re doing. Saying you’re going to make an important life change is one thing; sticking to it is another. Don’t eat that metaphorical turkey.