My high school class didn’t vote on a person Least Likely to Become a Vegetarian, but if it had, I would have won. Back in my teen years, I took huge pleasure in picking arguments with militant vegetarians, and that continued through college, where I lived in a student co-op house filled with the kind of people who would freak out if someone cooked meat on the same griddle they used for tofu scrambles. The more packages of fermented soy protein and imitation-chicken wheat gluten my housemates stacked up in the fridge, the more I saw it as evidence of their lack of fitness for the real world. At the time, vegetarians struck me as, at best, third-rate ethicists whose animal-rights case was as anemic as they were. At worst, they were tragic characters who were depriving themselves—and trying to deprive others—of one of life’s great joys.
Lately, though, I don’t feel as much contempt for vegetarians. In fact, I think I’m slowly and steadily becoming one. Like a bull getting revenge on a cocky toreador, vegetarianism is jabbing its horns into my side. Have I surrendered? Not yet. But I’m surprised at how little I’m resisting.
I’m finding it oddly amusing to watch the carnivorous and vegetarian forces inside me battle it out. I love meat like crazy—I’ve always loved it, in just about all of its forms, including the gamiest offal and organ meats. But just as the food world becomes more and more meat-obsessed—in fawning new books like The Shameless Carnivore and magazines like Meatpaper, and on menus that show off the most obscure cuts chefs can find—I feel myself inching away.