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Carnivores in love

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by Andree Lau, CBCnews.ca

All through university, my friend Chinta was a hard-core vegetarian. My solution of "Why don't you just eat salad?" was not usually welcome in response to her concern that the restaurants I wanted to eat at didn't offer meatless options.

Fast forward almost 10 years to a dinner celebrating Chinta's wedding.

Her parents are roasting a whole pig in the backyard of their cottage in Nova Scotia — and my former vegetarian friend has requested that a chicken be stuffed in its belly.

I wondered if falling in love with a carnivore had anything to do with it.

Not really, said my friend.

"It was more of a health and weight thing," she told me. "I'm a picky eater so I was always a bad vegetarian. I never ate lentils and all the other good-for-you things you were supposed to eat to get protein."

lamb-cp018920.jpg
A night with some heavenly lamb threw one vegetarian off the wagon. (Cranberry Marketing Committee)

So she took the plunge back into the meat world with a supermarket roasted chicken.

"It did take a bit of a pep talk to take the first bite," she recalled. "It was weird to eat it at first and I was worried about being ill. But nothing happened. So I moved on to steak. And that's when I really rediscovered meat."

I have another friend, Steph, a vegetarian for five years, who suddenly started eating meat again — around the same time she met her longtime, meat-eater boyfriend.

Surely, love played into the switch?

It turns out it wasn't affection, but a restaurant in Edmonton named Culina that bewitched Steph's taste buds.

She said she was already reconsidering her vegetarian diet — which she was gaining weight on — when she went to a special dinner at Culina where the main course was lamb.

"I'd be lying if I said it wasn't heavenly. Tender, juicy, succulent, melted in my mouth," she said.

"My significant other loves to take credit for it, but I met him three days after I ate the lamb," she said. "[But] I guess you could say falling in love kept me a carnivore."

Both of my friends admit meal-planning and cooking with their significant others is easier these days, and they try to buy free-range, organic meat whenever they can.

Has your diet changed over the years, and why?

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Comments

Jesse

edmonton

While reading this article I could not help but laugh since the exact opposite of this has happened to me. Falling in love helped me become a vegetarian. For this I cannot be thankful enough. It seems funny to me that the way this story is written, might give one the impression that vegetarians are a sad bunch of people depriving themselves of a wonderful flavourful world of meat eating. Our values also seem to be as weak as our protein deprived muscles because it appears that one bite of "succulent lamb" is all that it takes to feel alive again. For the record, I am a healthy and happy vegetarian. I feel that I have sacrificed nothing and gained significantly from my choice.

Posted August 10, 2008 12:26 AM

Jake Deram

Ottawa

Longtime vegetarian and with respect I'd suggest that if someone isn't eating essential foods LIKE lentils then they're really just taking their health into their own hands and wiping their backside with it.

I'm not pushy and I could not care any less whether the person I'm seeing is or is not a vegan/vegetarian/frutiarian etc etc etc I would think that the only request I'd make of a heavy meat eater is to brush their teeth after a salami

Posted August 10, 2008 11:22 AM

Adam

Halifax

I underwent the vegetarian experiment over the last year and found it to be an incredibly healthy lifestyle change - beforehand, my diet was truly abhorrent. Never liked vegetables, never ate them, was very much a carnivorous person.

However, since moving to Halifax I fell off the wagon so to speak and began eating meat again. I find now I am more balanced. I don't necessarily meat every day or even every few days, and I eat it in smaller proportions in comparison to the vegetables and noodles or rice in the meals I create.

Posted August 12, 2008 06:28 AM

Nathan

I was vegan for a number of years; during that time I felt well, and I was healthy. But in retrospect, many of the socio-political reasons for being a vegan stripped my enjoyment of food.
Politics has no place in the bedrooms, or on the tables of the nation.
By the by, my conversion moment was in a restaurant in Beijing when I had turtle (that arrived intact - head, feet etc.) and pigeon. Also intact.

Posted August 12, 2008 09:45 PM

Jen

Ms. Lau, unless your friend fell for a lion or a crocodile, she's defintely not in love with a carnivore.

Humans are omnivorous - we can and must digest foods from a variety of plant sources. Think about it - do you know any person who eats only meat and drinks only water? I'll let you ponder that over your corn-syrup and sugar sweetened coffee.

Posted August 20, 2008 01:07 PM

Darryl

Nobody who was ever a true vegetarian just "falls off the wagon." I am a Canadian who has been living and working Seoul for the last 1 1/2 years, and despite lack of veg options in Korean food, I have not fallen off the wagon. Never been tempted or had the desire. The day I gave up meat 10 years ago, I continue to this day to be disgusted by the meat eatting practices of our obviously still primitive ways of living. In the 10 years I have been vegetarianI have met a lot of people who faked their way into vegetarianism, either because they thought it was a noteworthy fad, or some stupid notion that something magical would happen to the bodies if they did. Anybody that is or became vegetarian for any other reason then because the idea that we consume the dead carcass of another once living animal needlessly disgusts them (yes, needlessly remember I have kept to my veg ways for 10 years and I am a bit heavy set), they are not a vegetarian, and I would not acknowledge them as such. Its a lifestyle and a value based way of living, not something you turn off and on for kicks. I try not to laugh, because if you can be converted by the oh so succulent flesh of another animal, you never had the right idea of what being a real vegetarian was in the first place!

Posted August 21, 2008 09:46 AM

Mark

Firsty, thanks to Jake Deram for the classic line in his post, "the only request I'd make of a heavy meat eater is to brush their teeth after a salami" - hands down the funniest line I've heard or read in months!

Secondly, to Darryl who posted "I am a Canadian who has been living and working Seoul for the last 1 1/2 years, and despite lack of veg options in Korean food" - are you kidding me? Rice, tofu, noodles, kimchi, pickled veggie side dishes are the norm! Korean food includes a lot of yummy meat dishes too, but it's hardly an accomplishment to maintain a vegetarian diet on Korean food.

Posted August 21, 2008 12:02 PM

johnny ramsoda

Jen,
I agree with your comment, except for one tiny thing. Humans are not omnivores. That is a myth perpetrated by the food industry. It's true, we can survive on meat (example: Eskimos can live on whale blubber and polar bear meat), but they would thrive if their diet was strictly vegetarian.
Just because we humans are "opportunity eaters", doesn't mean we are not designed (evolved, if you like) to eat only plant material. The plant world has everything we need.

Posted August 21, 2008 06:37 PM

Miss Mabel

Dear Mr Ramsoda (I love your last name, by the way) -- anyone who can digest and get nutrition from meat has evolved to eat meat. That's not a myth, it's just logical.

It's true that we can choose not to eat meat, though it's not much of a choice if you live somewhere in the world where you take whatever calories you can get. (I'm a vegan, and I count myself very lucky to live in the Land of Abundant Canned Chick Peas.)

Dear Nathan: I absolutely sympathize with the idea that we should take pleasure in food, and most vegan cookbooks today emphasize this. But I won't live my life blocking out the suffering of others, human or animal, just so they won't spoil my day. Everyday we make choices that hurt others in this world--surely it's not wrong to want to minimize the harm we do? If politics doesn't belong in the bedroom or at the table, surely compassion does?

Posted September 7, 2008 01:15 AM

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From trends and culture to politics and nutrition, Food Bytes serves up tasty tidbits about food and the issues surrounding it that flavour our everyday lives.

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Amber Hildebrandt Amber Hildebrandt writes for CBCNews.ca in Toronto. Growing up on a farm in Manitoba, she acquired an insatiable appetite, but it was during a stint in Japan that she developed her discerning tastebuds and "foodie" ways.

Andrea Chiu Andrea Chiu is an associate producer at CBC Radio Digital. Though she loves to eat, cook and discuss food, don't ask her to bake. It never turns out well. She tweets as @TOfoodie on Twitter and organizes food and wine events in Toronto called FoodieMeet.

Tara Kimura Tara Kimura is the consumer life reporter for CBCNews.ca, covering a wide range of issues that range from rising food costs and the growing organic movement, to new trends in the marketplace.

Andree Lau Andree Lau is a CBC web reporter in Calgary. Her journalism career includes seven years as a CBC-TV reporter. Her own blog called "are you gonna eat that?" chronicles her eating adventures (including sampling snake and camel hoof tendon).

Jessica Wong Jessica Wong is a CBCNews.ca writer who loves to eat and cook, as well as discuss, read and watch programming about food, sometimes all at once.

Kevin Yarr Kevin Yarr, CBCNews.ca's writer in Prince Edward Island, wrote about food and beer for national and regional magazines before joining the CBC. He acquired a desire for new tastes on his first trip to Europe, and an appreciation of eating locally and in season when he finally settled down on P.E.I.

Elizabeth Bridge Elizabeth Bridge is a writer with the CBC Digital Archives in Toronto. She first ventured into the kitchen as a child to indulge a sweet tooth by baking cookies and making fudge. A student budget compelled her to be a vegetarian (for a while) and instilled in her an ongoing curiosity about food and cooking.

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