About a month ago, I considered becoming a vegetarian, and after doing a lot of research, I decided that I wanted to make the change to my diet for both ethical and environmental reasons. Unfortunately, it wasn't as simple as it seemed. Though I could no longer justify eating meat, I couldn't deny the fact that I still loved spaghetti and meatballs, sushi, and dim sum, and the thought of giving it all up was hard to process. How was I supposed to fit all of my favorites into one last supper before making the switch?
I continued to have a hard time picturing life without my go-to meals, but luckily, spring break was fast approaching. I came up with a plan: eat as much delicious food during spring break as possible, regardless of whether it contained meat. The meals of the week would all be my "last supper," and when I returned to school, I would become a vegetarian.
That got me wondering—what did other vegetarians and vegans eat for their "last supper" with meat? Why did they choose to have what they had, and do they miss that food? I interviewed eight people from various places in the US and beyond in order to find out how their unique backgrounds influenced their transitions to a meat-free lifestyle.
1. Talia Schaer: Mexico City, Mexico
"My last meal was a hamburger. Every year in Mexico, a few of my cousins and I would go to this burger joint with our uncle, and the last time we went was the last meal with meat I ever had. I decided to go vegetarian because I was never someone who really liked the taste of meat or the fact that I was eating an animal. I am the only one in my entire family that is vegetarian, but I do not miss eating meat at all."
2. Ashley Williams: Florida
"I'm not vegan, but my sister is. She wants to pursue ballet professionally, so she eats very clean and healthy foods to keep a lean ballerina body. She said the last meat she had was salmon—she's always loved salmon, but she said she can go without it. She's become so used to a vegan lifestyle that she doesn't really miss it much."
3. Madison Salomon: Indiana
"I'm a (mostly) dairy-free vegetarian. I'm lactose intolerant, so dairy has recently been pulled from my diet. The last meal with meat that I ate was probably chicken strips. I used to eat only chicken growing up, and it's the only meat I've ever eaten. My parents had always wanted to make sure that I was getting enough protein—but halfway through college, I realized I barely ate any meat at all, so I just stopped altogether."
"I've always been weird about eating meat, and cutting it out has actually made my diet more balanced. I don't miss meat, but I have a craving for real ice cream every once in a while."
4. Sabrina Dorow: Indiana
"My last meal was ham this past Christmas. I'd already been a vegetarian for a couple of weeks, but I decided to have it because it's a family tradition, and I figured I could re-start for the new year (I've been vegetarian ever since). I don't eat many dairy products either, and that's been an easy transition because I love almond milk and never have eaten much ice cream."
"I don't miss eating meat, but I miss the convenience of not having to make a separate, meatless meal. I don't love being perceived as 'difficult' when I'm the only person not eating meat at a meal, or finding the time to prepare more complex foods so that I still get enough protein."
"Luckily, my roommate is vegan, which makes it easier, and by living with her, I've adjusted to grocery shopping for my new lifestyle—for example, we put syrup in our oatmeal instead of honey. I don't miss ham in particular—it's so heavy—but sometimes I miss burgers and the atmosphere of cookouts (I still go to them, but a veggie burger just isn't the same)."
5. Maria Gabriela Jorge: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
"My last meal with meat before I went vegan was salmon. Having been a pescatarian for about four years before going vegan, it was the only animal product I could eat without feeling grossed out. I originally became a pescatarian because I didn't like the idea of eating meat, and later decided to go vegan because of the cruelty in the fishing industry. In one week, I will have been vegan for two years!"
6. Brooke Robinson: Missouri
"I've been a vegetarian for eight years, and the only meat I've intentionally eaten was Panda Express orange chicken. I realize that sounds totally disgusting, but hear me out—I was at the mall with a friend, and it just smelled so good that I couldn't resist."
7. Callie Carlson: Louisiana
"I remember the exact moment three years ago when I had my last meat meal. I had been vegan for a solid two days when my favorite burger place had a special: a cheeseburger with bacon and a fried egg, between pancakes (as the bun) with a maple aioli. It was the best last meat meal I could've ever imagined. I've been vegan ever since, but I had to have that burger since I just can't resist breakfast food. I'm glad I went back to being vegan, though, for the healthy lifestyle it allows."
8. Katie Liguori: Illinois
"I decided to become a vegetarian while on a trip in Israel. We went on this drive through the mountains where there were all these cows. At the top of the mountain, we ate lunch, and I remember thinking to myself that I couldn't eat meat anymore after seeing how cute those cows were! For my last meal, I had chicken schnitzel and green beans, although I didn't think it was going to be my last meal until I decided later that day that I didn't want to eat meat anymore."
My Last Supper
My spring break was truly epic. I had multiple last suppers, each one delicious in its own way. I had a sushi-making party for my birthday, ate traditional Dim Sum, and had my mom's special spaghetti and meatballs. I left home content and ready to start life as a vegetarian back at school in St. Louis. Even though I sometimes dream of pork dumplings or a delicious salmon roll, I feel proud that I left the omnivorous lifestyle the right way: with a bang.