All while growing up I rarely ever ate meat. The only meat I would eat would be chicken. My parents rarely cooked red meat and when they did I would forgo the protein portion of the meal for the night. For as long as I can remember, I would only eat all the side dishes at Thanksgiving and leave the turkey. So at the end of college when I decided to be fully vegetarian, it was not that difficult.
My reasons for being vegetarian are mostly for environmental concerns. After taking a few courses in college focused on sustainability, it became evident that the way meat is processed is not very sustainable for the environment. I do not like how meat is a factory process and that it consumes vast amounts of energy input versus the energy output you are getting when you eat that meat.1 In addition, I do not like what it does to the environment; deforestation, water consumption, waste, global warming, etc.2
Now lets jump to today. I find myself eating meat. But only occasionally. And mostly when I have consumed some amount of alcohol. I blame this on the fact that there is no where to get a burrito at 2am (or at any time for that matter).
Sometimes I even crave it. I am getting awfully sick of eating soya chunks and beans. And chicken is EVERYWHERE here in SVG. It’s not very difficult to be vegetarian or vegan in the Caribbean, but it’s also a lot easier to eat meat. You can find chicken and chips, fried chicken, roast pork (more on that later), bread and chicken, etc. on any street corner, in any shop, anywhere, at anytime, day or night. It is very easy to cook for yourself entirely vegetarian or vegan meals. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful and there is always something delicious in season. Soya chunks, beans, peas, and nuts (if I weren’t allergic) are easy to find and prepare.
But it’s a little more difficult to find vegetarian options at anytime or anywhere. I should note that I am not actually vegetarian but pescetarian, which makes it even easier to not be a carnivore here. Fish is readily available. But mostly at the market (which needs to be prepared at home), and only occasionally available out. You wont find fish on the corner, but you will find it in a shop or restaurant usually. There are also a few I-Tal restaurants (Rasta), but these can only be found in Town. So that leaves me with few options for vegetarian meals when I am at school, at home in my village or out and about somewhere other than town.
Then there’s roast pork, which is in a league all its own. Never did I eat pork at home; never did I ever crave pork at home. Every Thursday and Friday a shop next to school roasts pork. The staff room is directly downwind of the shop, and all day long the sweet smell of roast pork wafts into the building. Come lunchtime, all the teachers are eating roast pork and breadfruit. I don’t know why, but it smells so good. So naturally I had to break down and eat some. At first it started when I would be out with friends at a club, appropriately called Pork City. As you imagined, they also roast a pig. Come 2am when I am hungry and everyone else is eating roast pork, and there are no vegetarian options for miles upon miles, I broke down and ate roast pork. This may have happened on more than one occasion. I resisted the urge to eat pork, and for a while, I would only crave it if I were drunk. I thought maybe if I ate it while I was sober it would satisfy this strange craving. And it did for a while. But that urge to eat pork came back, even when I was sober.
Eating meat in the Caribbean doesn’t make me feel as bad as if I were eating meat in the States. For one, people in SVG eat EVERY part of the animal, from the skin (cattle skin soup) to the organs (liver, cow balls) right down to the bones (chicken necks, chicken backs, cattle hooves, etc). That means there is very little waste, which is how it should be. Additionally, the meat is not factory farmed and injected with nasty chemicals at every chance.