Struggles of a Pseudo-Vegetarian

By Phillip Nagler

I ate chicken today and I deeply regret it. Is it because I feel guilty for eating an animal? Or because I’m a raging liberal snowflake? No, it’s mainly because it deeply upset my stomach.

Vegetarianism and veganism have become very trendy in recent years. These movements became popular because of their associations with animal rights and environmental justice. I think that these are amazing causes, but I would be lying to myself and others if I claimed that these are the reasons I am (trying to be) a vegetarian.

I have had always had a weak stomach, which has made me more cautious about what I ate. In college, my stomach condition became exacerbated by all of the stress that I deal with on the daily. This semester, I realized that it isn’t certain types of food that hurt my stomach, but whenever I have large meals. This is especially true on Shabbos; on Saturday nights or even Sundays, I would have terrible stomach pain because of how much I would eat on Shabbos. It wasn’t only the sizes of the portions of the meals, but the fact that meat digests so slowly. I decided it was time to cut out the meat.

Additionally, another catalyst for my budding vegetarianism is the biology lab I’m in this semester. After each week of dissecting another dead animal, the thought of eating something dead became gradually more nauseating. While I’m still able to stomach meat, it has not been as easy as it used to be.

As I have alluded to, I haven’t been so successful in being strictly vegetarian. It’s hard! I’ve been eating meat my entire life! How can I stop now (especially when it tastes so good!)?

However, the real reason I have not been a strict vegetarian is gender inequality (Huh, I guess I am a raging liberal after all).

What do I mean by this? The men’s campus cafeteria has extremely limited options for a vegetarian. Our salad bar pales in comparison to the Stern cafeteria, and the freezer pack vegetables that are served are the definition of nebach. I’ve only eaten at Stern a few times, but now that I’m thinking about it, I am reminiscing about the taste of the freshly cooked sweet potato and corn on the cob.

I’m sure a lot of women reading this are triggered. You are probably thinking: “Ew! Our caf is gross! And the men are the lucky ones because they have an open grill!” I guess the grass is always greener on the other campus.

Ultimately, I’m not really sure how long I’ll remain a vegetarian. In all honesty, it has been freeing at times when I’ve had the compulsion to overindulge myself at meals where meat was readily available. At the same time, practically it’s very difficult to adopt a purely vegetarian diet.

To all my fellow struggling vegetarians out there, just remember, you’re probably a better vegetarian than I am.

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