Since I have given up meat and cheese, people usually ask me if I miss eating them. “Do you not wish you could have a cheeseburger?” No, not really. Admittedly, when I first went vegetarian I probably did miss meat in a sense. I even had dreams about eating meat, only to wake up terrified at the thought that I might have eaten some in a moment of weakness. I’m sure I missed the taste of meat as well. After all, it’s a big step to go from meat 2 or 3 times a day to no meat at all. When I eventually went vegan and gave up all animal products, this was also a major adjustment. Now I also missed the convenience of just being able to order anything I wanted in a restaurant. However, missing the taste and convenience of eating meat and cheese was only temporary and I found no difficulty in avoiding both.
With regards to meat, to be honest, just the thought of eating any meat is kind of off-putting. Even if I put aside the ethical issue with meat, just the thought of biting into a piece of dead, processed flesh is unappealing. I can imagine the taste and the texture (if my memory serves me well) and nothing about either fills me with a sudden urge to eat a burger or some bacon. When it comes to cheese, I never it that much before going vegan anyway; only really on pizza and nachos. I do miss the taste of melted cheddar, but that’s about it. And I’ve found a good alternative vegan brand of cheese for pizza and nachos, so I’m not complaining.
Yet people are still adamant. Because they can’t imagine giving up meat or cheese, they cannot believe how someone else can. “I love the taste of meat and cheese too much” or “I could never live without meat and cheese” are some common responses I hear to any suggestion of veganism. Even if I entertained the possibility of enjoying the taste of meat and cheese, this does not mean that I miss either. In fact, I am so glad that I gave both up. The animal suffering and terror that is inevitably associated with meat and cheese makes both seem very unappetising. The logic, consistency and rational arguments that support a vegan diet overshadows any consideration of taste and pleasure gained from eating meat or cheese.
There is an analogy which I think will help to explain why I don’t miss meat and cheese. Say we lived in a time of slavery, when those who opposed slavery, the abolitionists, were in the same minority as the vegan population. Now imagine if one of these abolitionists refused to own a slave for moral reasons. The majority of the white population would find this behaviour bizarre and incomprehensible. They might say to this abolitionist: “Don’t you miss owning a slave? Don’t you miss the enjoyment and convenience and easy life you get with having a slave? Hey, the more slaves the better!” For me, I feel this situation corresponds in some way to questions like, “Don’t you just ever feel like a steak? Or a pizza?” No, not at all. In no way do I want to contribute towards or perpetuate such a horrible industry.