Over the course of 4 years, my diet went through quite the series of transformations. Omnivore, pescaterian, lacto-ovo vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and back to 100% omnivore. I thought I would never eat meat again, would never WANT to eat meat again. I also thought returning to meat eating would be very difficult, that the thought would weird me out and all normal digestive processes would go to hell. But, when I decided to study abroad in Chile for 5 months (Chile = meat-centric diet and culture), the time had come to return to my roots and embrace meat consumption. Strangely enough, as soon as I made the decision, I had my first meat craving in 4 years. I ate some chicken, it tasted just like I remembered (delicious, that is), and now I’m off and running.
My friends chuckle or do a double-take now when I order a bison burger or chicken tacos but my case is not unique in any sense. According to a study done by Psychology Today, about 75% of once-vegetarians return to their omnivorous state. Even as an ex-vegetarian myself, this statistic surprised me. What are some of the reasons ex-vegetarians attributed to their decision? The verdict:
- 35% of the participants cited poor health as the reason for their return to their omnivorous lifestyle. (Quote of note: “I will take a dead cow over anemia any time”). But wait, isn’t vegetarianism supposed to be healthier? The complexity and contradictory nature of diet-related information available is a topic for another post but this question is relevant.
- About 25% didn’t want the “hassle” anymore.
- 20% reported an “irresistible urge” to eat meat again.
- For 15% of the respondents, their diet had taken a toll on their social life.
I find this report very interesting, especially since I have had personal experience with them all but none of them was actually my reason for changing. Any ex-vegetarians (or others) out there who want to participate in this dialogue? My opinion is that every person has their own ‘diet journey’. People’s tastes, health needs, culture, and moral values evolve over time so it makes sense that their diet evolves accordingly. What do you think?