I want to write about what happened to me, or what I did, on January 1st.
As most of my readers and friends will know, I went vegetarian/’pescetarian once a week’ last year. I wanted to see if I could do it, if I could handle it, and if it was something I would be able to do over a long amount of time.
I gave myself the allowance to eat meat (specific things, not anything) and tons of fish while I was in the US for my sister’s wedding in June, but aside from that, it was basically vegetarian 6.5 days per week, and fish once in a while, if I needed it or wanted sushi.
I’ve done things like this before. When I moved to Germany, I went off processed sugar for a long time. The change it made to my mouth was phenomenal. What I mean by that is that once I got the taste of white sugar out of my mouth, other things started to taste better, just in general. Germany uses natural sugar more often than the powder, so it was an easy change to make.
But I wanted to see if going off meat for a year would do the same thing. As I’ve been a vegetarian, I’ve been cooking more and wasn’t really able to just swing by the shop and pick up some (expensive) parma ham when I was hungry. I had to prep my food in advance, plan better, and also try to use ALL of the stuff that I bought (as I was also trying to NOT waste food).
So I’m not really lacking for food, or food options. And I’d like to say that the Tofu Bacon and Vegetarian Meatballs turned out amazingly well, and I don’t really feel the need to go back to the original versions.
Still, I had to try.
I had to find out if the foods that I loved, that I’d craved off and on for the past year, were actually *that* good once I wasn’t eating them on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
The foods I crave most often are:
- McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger, most commonly found on the $1 menu
- A Philadelphia Cheese steak, with white American cheese, mayo, salt and pepper.
- Hot dogs
- Cheez its
So on January 1, Mark and I went out for a walk. We’d intended to do the Japanese thing and go to our local shrine to do the ‘New Year Prayer’, but there was a line around the block, and we really just wanted to walk. So we walked around our neighborhood for a good hour or two.
This took us past a McDonald’s on the way home, and I mentioned wanting to see if a Double Cheeseburger still tasted the way I remembered it. Mark, forever not judging me, told me to go for it. So I walked into McDonald’s for the first time in over a year, and ordered a Double Cheeseburger set with fries and a coke. Just like I always used to.
We got home and I took it out and put it on a plate, mostly so I could take a photo. Had it been me 4 years ago, I’d have been eating it while walking home. But I wanted to sit down and really focus on the taste, since my normal habit was to be doing something else, like driving or walking, while eating these before.
As it turns out, they do NOT taste as good when you’re not eating them all the time. This was NOT a case of ‘they are different in Japan’, since I’d had a few here BEFORE going vegepescetarian. And it was not a case of ‘this place is different from the others’, since basically all of these are the same, no matter where I go.
Nope, it was just my mouth, and it wasn’t enjoying it. Which was a little sad, in a way, since this was something I’d craved for so long and had actually kind of been looking forward to. It was also the guilt associated with the death of the animal it had come from, which I also haven’t felt in a long time. I don’t feel very bad about fish, truth be told.
The experiment has shown me that with enough time and distance, maybe I can cut out ALL of the bad habits. It’s a little sad when a food you used to love, that you used to consider a comfort is no longer that for you anymore. But it’s ok. I honestly think that our comfort foods can change over time, and you never really know what that food will be for you until maybe it’s harder to come by.
On a totally related note, this has also started to happen for me with Cheez-Its and Goldfish crackers. The two things I thought I could never live without are slowly starting to taste… not amazing. Which seems crazy. But I guess it happens.
I’m still going to try to make myself a cheese steak sometime soon, and also go to a steak restaurant here, to see how I feel. But I have a feeling it’s going to be the same thing. My mouth is over it.