Vegetarian Tries Meat for the First Time (GONE WRONG…)

Most of you are probably familiar with Emma Hsu, but did you know that she was a vegetable(vegetarian)? That’s right, she hasn’t eaten meat in approximately 6 years. A couple of weeks ago, she expressed her interest in reintroducing meat back into her diet, questioning why she was even vegetarian in the first place after viewing senior Lee Bearsch chowing down on a crispy chick fil a chicken sandwich, which, as she describes, looked delectable. It’s understandable to feel like you’re missing out on a lot of delicious choices everyone raves about, such as chick fil a, when you avoid meat. People who choose to be vegetarian have a multitude of reasons for doing so, such as for the sake of morality, environmental purposes, or health reasons. Emma expressed that when she began her vegetarian journey, her purpose was to simply try something new and see how it went. As this became her lifestyle, she naturally became accustomed to it, her family being sure to incorporate vegetarian options into their meals and having easy accessibility to meatless options at most restaurants. Because of this, she never felt prompted to change her eating habits, leading to her 6 year long journey. Why now, you ask? Emma says she has realized that she lacks purpose behind it, and there should be no reason she can’t try or eat things with meat if she enjoys them or simply wants to. So, we have decided to document her journey back into eating meat. Perhaps you have seen Emma Chamberlain’s youtube video from a few years ago, trying meat for the first time ever. Taking inspiration from that, Emma Hsu will be presented with multiple meat options and will rate them by taste… Hesitant, she only wants to try reintroducing chicken back into her diet as she is scared of other meats. Restaurants include: Chick Fil A, Wendy’s, Panda Express, Umi, a Korean restaurant, and the impeccable Academic Magnet Cafeteria.

What exactly happens to your body when you suddenly start eating meat again? People have reported that a sudden reintroduction of meat into their diet resulted in stomach pain, skin problems, tiredness and aching, hormonal problems, and nausea. Even though there is not much scientific research on this topic, some argue that the stomach stops producing important meat digesting enzymes after going vegetarian, thus resulting in some of these symptoms. We will act as the myth busters, using Emma as our guinea pig. Will Emma experience similar symptoms after reintroducing meat to her diet after 6 years of only munching down on vegetables? Has Emma’s stomach lost all her important meat digesting enzymes? Keep reading to find out and stick to the end for a special McSurprise!

School Lunch: First Bite

Emma’s very first venture back into the realm of carnivory happened to be within the Academic Magnet cafeteria. Now, looking back, we do not see this as the best first choice, considering the presumably low quality aspects of the meat provided in our school lunch. Emma decided to go with a chicken caesar wrap for her first bite of chicken, basically ever. When Emma ripped into the wrap, we were a little concerned that she would quickly spit the chicken out—so much so that we took a few steps back. Despite our initial concerns, Emma’s first impression was that “it tastes like tofu.” Emma ranked it a 5/10 before being attacked by the school wasp and running away, dropping the chicken wrap in the process. However, Emma was not ready to give up on her chicken adventure, moving on next to the school cafeteria fried chicken sandwich, everyone’s safety when the hot lunch is questionable. Emma took a very small nibble before stating “it’s bad.” She then went on to say, “It’s mushy, that’s a 2/10.” 

We were surprised to learn that later that night that Emma was experiencing extreme physical discomfort, potentially as a result of her chicken indulgence. She had, in fact, eaten the entire chicken wrap. Emma reported stomach pain and puffiness in her face, a pain that will continue to ensue throughout the trial. Perhaps the “myth” is true. 

Chick-fil-a: Second Bite

Everyone loves Chick-fil-a. Upon viewing the crispy chicken nuggets on the plate before her, Emma exclaimed, “Ok, it actually looks really good. I am the most excited for this one cause I feel like it’s actual chicken and not just molded into chicken.” Will the chicken live up to Emma’s expectations? As Emma picked up the sauceless nugget and moved it toward her mouth, we anxiously watched, sweat running down our faces. What would Emma think about one of our favorite restaurants? The nugget entered her mouth, and she started to chew, staring down at the plate before her as if she was hiding her emotions in an effort to keep us waiting. In what was one of the most intense moments of our lives, Emma slowly lifted her head and a smile appeared on her face. The “Mmmmm” that came out of her mouth was music to our ears. ‘That’s really good y’all,” Emma stated while bouncing around in excitement. Emma then went in for a second bite, this time dunking the nugget into some sauce. ‘That’s delectable!,” Emma shouted. Now let’s get into what we all care about: the numbers. Emma rated this iconic chicken an 8/10, a very solid rating when compared to her first bite of chicken in the school cafeteria. Emma was quick to express the likelihood that she would try chicken nuggets, and even a sandwich, from chick-fil-a again. 

Panda Express: Third Bite

Panda Express is well known for its renowned orange chicken—it’s a must try. I, Sadie, consider it one of my favorite fast foods, and actually introduced it to Harrison, who now also loves the dish. We find it only fitting to have Emma try it. Upon first bite, her face lit up with joy. She loved the Panda Express orange chicken, despite her previous hesitations about this America-fied piece of meat. She gave it a whopping 10/10! 

McTrick: Fourth Bite 8.3/10

Now, we get a little controversial. Emma expressed at the beginning of our trial that she did not want to try McDonald’s, as she had watched a documentary about how they make their chicken, which scared her out of ever trying it. I think we all know of the scandals behind McDonalds’ food, making a choice to either ignore it, trust the new marketing of “fresh food,” or not eat it at all. However, we were not going to let this documentary serve as a roadblock because we are devoted to bringing you, the reader, quality content everyday. Hence, we moved forward with operation McTrick in which we slid a McDonalds nugget into the Wendy’s nuggets. When we told Emma she was eating Wendy’s, we pulled the McNugget out of the box and gave it to her. After she took a bite, we quickly exposed that she had, indeed, been McTricked. Emma was quite angry that she had ingested a McDonalds nugget, but it’s all for science! While this may not have been approved by the IRB (The Internal Review Board that fellow AP Research students know all too well), we took it upon ourselves to approve it anyway, and we have no regrets (and, surprisingly, neither does Emma). After getting over her initial frustration with the McNugget, she actually took a new perspective. 

Wendy’s: Fifth Bite

At this point, we let Emma know that she now had to try an actual Wendy’s nugget. After taking a bite, Emma made her usual “Mmmmm!” She, at first, thought that she liked the nugget, but then changed her mind, saying that it was too juicy. 8/10. In the end, Emma decided she preferred the McDonalds nugget over the Wendy’s nugget, to all of our dismay. She stated, “things aren’t juicy in my life.” At this point, she decided she would try McDonalds again because of the nostalgic flavor, as well as panda and chick. Touching back on the effects of meat on vegetarians, Emma describes “Wendy’s made me hurt more, I felt it go down to my stomach and when it touched down there was pain.” 

Umi: Sixth Bite

Now, prior to conducting these experiments, we surveyed people in the class on what their favorite chicken dishes were, to create a collection of ones for the test. McRae Wallace described his favorite was an Umi chicken bowl, which really resonated with me (Sadie). Umi, if you don’t know, is a restaurant in Park West, Mount Pleasant. They have the most insane chicken bowls with rice, a dish I ate a lot in my middle school career. I decided she had to try it. And you should, too, if you have not. Now that Emma has moved in as a Mount Pleasant resident, and my new neighbor, I picked her up and took her to Umi. I ordered a chicken bowl for us both, and when she tried it, she said it was her favorite chicken dish she ever tried. She gave it a 10/10, exclaiming we ought to come here more often. She specifically liked the texture of the chicken, saying it wasn’t the rice or the sauce that made it good, but the chicken itself. Unfortunately, a picture of his historic event cannot be found. 

7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th Bite?!?

Perhaps one of the most unexpected twists and turns of the event came after – Emma has taken a liking of meat on her own. After our taste test, she took it upon herself to try multiple more types of meat. Since we were with her, we recorded her reactions to include in our article. First, she tried a bite of my taco bell chicken quesadilla, which she hated, and rated a 1/10. Next, she indulged in some of a chicken cava bowl, which she liked and rated a  7/10. On a road trip this past weekend, she tried some food from a Korean place we stopped at. As for a Korean chicken wing, she rates a 10/10. A big shock came next. She decided she wanted to try beef??? Beef bulgogi, to her, was 9.5/10. “Beef is too good, it scares me… I won’t let myself eat it,” she explains. When we stopped at  Chick Fil a, she surprised us all, and got her own order of chicken nuggets. Despite the physical repulsion she may have experienced after her fast and sudden indulgence in chicken, I think it’s safe to say this is a new era for Emma! That being said, the myth remains unbusted: perhaps it is true that when a vegetarian tries meat for the first time or after a long time, they experience true pain.

Emma’s New Era