I'd been a vegetarian for three months. It's just that I didn't want to be responsible for butchering animals, if you know what I mean. I thought it was wrong. So what I did was I stopped eating meat. Not one piece did I eat in three whole months, and this is coming from a guy that used to eat meat almost every day. I love it. Or at least I loved it. Oh, I used to think it tasted so good. And it'd fill me up real nice, too, and make me feel all big and strong. But I cut it out of my diet. I just couldn't take it anymore.
During that same time that I was a vegetarian, I was doing a whole bunch of other things to purify myself. I'd sleep on the floor, for instance. I was doing that because I wanted to toughen my body. That way, if I wanted to get comfortable, I wouldn't be so reliant on material things like mattresses. I'd be able to sleep comfortably anywhere. I mean, in the old days people used to sleep right on the ground, so I figured I could do it, too. I didn't need a mattress, so I wasn't going to use one. It's like television. I refused to watch it. I didn't need it.
So anyway, I was a vegetarian, and that meant that I'd eat the same stuff pretty much everyday. I ate a whole lot of rice and beans. White rice and black beans, brown rice and pinto beans, wild rice, sticky rice, refried beans…always rice and beans. I'd have a fair amount of pasta and sauce, too, and peanut butter and jelly, and bread and cheese, but I was getting a bit tired of it all. I mean, before I'd become a vegetarian I'd always look forward to the meat part of my meals. I figured that the other stuff was there just to make sure I got filled up. And back then, whenever anybody would ask what I had for dinner the night before, I'd always talk about the steak or the pork or the chicken, but I'd never even mention the sides. Now I only ate sides.
Then one day, just about three months into my vegetarianism, everything changed. Well, at least my feelings towards meat changed.
It all started when I came home from class one afternoon. I was hungry. Real hungry. I'd only had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch, so my stomach was grumbling, and all I wanted to do was shove some food in my mouth. Luckily, there was some leftover rice and beans in the fridge. I decided that I'd make myself a burrito to tide me over for a while.
So I scooped the rice and beans onto a tortilla, and sprinkled a little cheese on top, and a bit of salsa, and then I put everything into the microwave. I watched the burrito spin round and round under the lamps of the microwave. ‘Why is it spinning?’ I thought to myself as I stared, mesmerized, at the revolving burrito. The seconds counted down slowly. ‘Why is it taking so long? Time usually moves a little faster.’
The doorbell rang, waking me from my trance.
I answered the door as my food continued to warm in the microwave. It was my friend Adam. He held a bottle of bourbon in one hand and a plate of seasoned lamb chunks in the other. He'd taken it from work, he explained. He figured that somebody in my house would want it. I didn't want it, but I took the lamb anyway, and placed it on the kitchen counter. It would get eaten by one of my roommates, I figured. I grabbed my burrito and sat down with Adam at the dinner table.
I ate my food ravenously. It tasted fine, and most importantly, my hunger was temporarily relieved.
“A drink?” asked Adam.
“Sure,” I replied.
Adam poured us each a bourbon and coke, and then another, and then a few more. My chest grew warm. I couldn't stop laughing. My voice got louder and louder.
An hour or so later, friends began to arrive. We all drank beer and played music, and soon enough a small party was going on in my living room. I was having a wonderful time chatting with everybody. So wonderful, in fact, that I hardly noticed my stomach groaning for more food.
“A beer?” I asked Adam.
“Of course,” he said.
I went to the kitchen to find drinks. I grabbed a couple from the refrigerator, and as I turned round to grab a bottle opener I spotted the plate of seasoned lamb chunks out of the corner of my eye. It looked as tasty as anything that I'd ever seen. I was spellbound. I wouldn't eat any, of course, because I was a vegetarian, but I figured that it would be okay to sniff the meats. ‘Just a few sniffs and then I'll go back to my friends,’ I thought. So I removed the plastic wrap that covered the plate, and stuck my nose into the pile of lamb, and I experienced an ecstasy that I'd seldom experienced in my life. ‘What an exquisite aroma,’ I thought to myself. But right then the ecstasy vanished and was replaced by a singular, maddening desire to taste the meat. My mouth watered profusely. I had to taste it. I needed it.
So I allowed myself one piece. ‘Just one,’ I told myself. ‘After all, the lamb's been killed already, and somebody's got to eat it.’ I placed a medium sized chunk in my mouth and chewed it slowly. The flavors and spices drenched my tongue. Low moans of ecstasy rose from my stomach and shot out through my lips.
“Oh! Oh! Mmmmmmmmm! Oh!” I cried.
The beast within me took over. Instinctively, I grabbed another piece of lamb and devoured it.
“Oh my God! Oh! Mmmmmmm! Yes!”
I wasn't thinking. I had forgotten about my vegetarianism. I didn't care about the animals anymore. All of my energy was directed towards shoveling the meat into my mouth.
“Oh yes! Oh my! Mmmmmm! So good!”
With both hands I clutched the lamb chunks, and with my teeth I tore at the meat. I felt like an animal. I was overcome with joy. I was free.
“Mmmmmm! Mmmmmmm! Oh! Yes!”
The fury stopped when the last piece of lamb had traveled down my throat into my stomach, but the ecstasy did not end. I was in heaven. I had eaten the entire plate of lamb. Only crumbs and sauce remained. I took a long look at the empty plate, and then I picked it up and licked it clean. I was breathing heavily. My heart pounded furiously. I was possessed by a most carnal, beastly satisfaction.
After a few minutes of standing in the kitchen, in awe of the feast that had just taken place, I realized that my friends were still in my home. Adam was still waiting for a beer. I left the kitchen and rejoined the party.
“You okay?” asked Adam.
“Oh yeah,” I said, nodding my head. “I'm doing great.” I was still tingling.
That moment was the beginning of the end of my vegetarianism. I guess that I came to accept my carnivorous side on that evening. And thank god that I did, because I love meat. I need it.
I wrote this (true) story in 1998. I had just moved out to San Francisco after graduating from college. It’s amazing how much has changed since then with vegetarian eating. There are so many delicious vegetarian and vegan options to choose from now. These days, I eat vegetarian meals quite often, but I still have a true passion for meat, and I’m still known to moan and groan with delight when I eat it.