EMILY JONES: Pangs of guilt greet return to meat eating



Lately I’ve been feeling guilty.

Maybe guilty isn’t the right word.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from being a psychology major, it’s that the field has a concrete term for every behavior and emotion that you’ve felt but never put a name to. So instead of guilty, I’ll use the term “cognitive dissonance.”

To clarify, cognitive dissonance is something you feel when your thoughts and behaviors do not line up, causing feelings of unease.

The reason I’ve been feeling this way is because I have switched back to eating meat after being a vegetarian for some months.

Granted, I still consume less animal products than before, but, overall, I am back to my old eating habits. 

Don’t get me wrong: I love a good steak as much as anyone else, but I sometimes feel that little nagging feeling in the back of my head telling me that I’m not that great of a person if I’m eating an animal.

I became a vegetarian after watching a documentary that made me question what I was eating, and made me feel as if meat was not healthy for me. So, I dropped it.

This did not work, though, and only lasted for four months.

I went back to eating meat for three reasons.

First, I was relying too much on carbs to keep me full.

Instead of a nice piece of grilled chicken with veggies and rice, I would have a salad and breadsticks. I felt as if I was always hungry, and bread never kept me satisfied for long.

The second reason is because of my weight.

I have always been a very slender woman so when I cut meat from my diet it eliminated a big part of what was keeping my weight consistent.

Sure, I could’ve just eaten crappier to maintain my weight but that would’ve been detrimental to my health (and defeat the whole purpose of going vegetarian to be healthier).

The third and biggest reason for why I went back to eating meat? Convenience, plain and simple.

Between six classes, ReBUILD and working weekends, I am a busy woman.

Add in a relationship, a social life and going out, it makes it difficult to find time to do things like meal prep for the week.

Convenience is also a factor when it comes to eating out.

Unless you want to spend a significant amount of money going to vegetarian/vegan-only restaurants, your options at a regular restaurant are quite limited.

Here’s what was in rotation for me when I went out to eat: salad, breadsticks, veggie burgers and fries.

There is little to no variety when it comes to eating out as a vegetarian.

Honestly? It mostly sucked, with a few good things coming out of it.

One of the positives was that I tend to think more out-of-the-box now because of having my ingredient range limited.

The other positive was that it made me feel good about myself, even if my body itself didn’t feel good.

No matter what anyone says, they cannot deny that they don’t feel like a better person from not eating meat.

It’s just one of those things.

It also provided me with a sense of community with other people I encountered who were vegetarian/vegan.

I care enough to feel bad, but I don’t care enough to change right now.

This realization is what’s causing my cognitive dissonance.

So, if anyone’s experienced this feeling because of giving up on vegetarianism, you’re not alone.

There are many of us “traitors” on campus, yearning for a burger after a long day of back-to-back classes.

We’ll see you at Sweetwater Tavern.