Picture this. It’s 3 am and you and your friends are leaving the bar after a night of marathon drinking. You have one thing on your mind: food.
You arrive at your favorite late-night pizza place. You order your classic plain slice and your friend gets her usual pepperoni. The pizza arrives in seconds. Then, in an almost out-of-body state, you reach across the table and devour every last bite of your friend’s pepperoni slice, drowning out all of her screams of, “Wait! You don’t eat meat!” End scene.
There are currently 16 million people in the United States alone who identify as vegan or vegetarian. Each and every one of these people may have a different motivation for their dietary choices. Their reasons might be ethical, environmental, dietary, religious, or simply preference-based. For many vegans and vegetarians, myself included, the decision to live a meatless life is one that is expected to last. It’s a lifestyle change.
My personal transition into vegetarianism was gradual, and it was about six months until I finally committed to giving up my once-cherished meat. Most of the time, I don’t even think about the food that I used to eat, nor do I miss it. I will admit, though, there have been one or two nights where I have fallen off the wagon. And it’s totally OK if the same has happened to you.
A 2015 study conducted on 1,789 men and women in the UK found that a whopping one-third of vegetarians eat meat when intoxicated. So it’s not just us.
Over a third of these meat-relapsers actually said that they ate meat every time they went out drinking. The study also found that of the roughly 600 vegetarians who admitted to meat-cheating, more than half of them had never told anyone about it before. They lived in silent shame for their late-night chicken tenders and bacon cheeseburgers.
And what exactly did these rogue vegetarians munch on during their drunchie sessions? Kebab burgers, beef burgers, bacon, fried chicken, and pork sausage were the most popular favorites by far. So really, you can’t blame them.
Clearly, the human subconscious, especially the drunk human subconscious, is a mysterious thing. I certainly do not crave meat on a regular basis, just like the majority of other vegetarians that I know. But, like many others, I have experienced blind meat-cravings time and time again. It’s an inexplicable phenomena, but we must take comfort in the fact that it affects so many of us.
Drunk meat-eating does, however, conjure up some very tricky questions. Does that make us lesser vegetarians and vegans? Can we even still consider ourselves vegetarians after a relapse session? Does this invalidate our meat-free lifestyle? Does it make us frauds? Fakes? Liars?
Of course not. We’re humans. We make mistakes. We sometimes drunkenly eat buffalo wings and bacon. But one small mishap most certainly does not discredit an entire lifestyle.
Hannah Montana once sang, “Nobody’s perfect.” And that’s what we have to keep in mind here.