Four years, four months and 10 days

That’s how long I lasted as a vegetarian.

Aug. 11, 2009, was the last time I ate meat until Dec. 22, 2013.

I’m not sure if it was boredom or laziness or just me being indignant at the restrictions I’d willingly imposed on myself, but for the past couple months I have really been wanting to eat fish. Which is odd, because I never really liked fish as a kid—ask my mom. So I did a bunch of research and talked to some people and came to a decision that eating fish was something I could live with, morally, as far as eating meat.

I decided that if I was going to do this, I would only eat good-quality fish. Wild-caught (thank you Whole Foods for making that easy) and fresh whenever possible (thank you locavore hippies in Chattanooga for making that possible). And no more than once a week because I don’t want to get too much mercury or sea trash in my system.

I bought a small piece of wild-caught salmon, cooked it with dill, garlic and lemon and ate it on Dec. 22 for dinner. It was good, filling and I felt like a million bucks after eating it. I had a ridiculous amount of energy, similar to what I feel after drinking a protein shake.

(It’s no secret that since moving down here and stopping my training regime, I’ve become a pretty shitty vegetarian. I eat salads a lot for lunch, but since this has been Ian’s and my Blow It Out Year, we’ve been going out to eat a lot. And that means lots of carbs, unfortunately, for me, and I’ve been feeling the consequences. So who knows, maybe getting a boost of protein in a low-fat vehicle will help with that.)

Anyway, on Christmas I cooked another piece of salmon and liked it even more. I was wracked with guilt for a bit: How can I just give up being vegetarian after only four years? Would this lead me down a slippery slope toward eating all meat again? What about the cute fish and their poor fish relatives being ripped from their arms and placed on my dinner plate so I could cruelly devour them? What would people think of me being so cold and heartless?

But then I realized I am only accountable to myself as far as what I eat. Nobody was pressuring me to be vegetarian. I got a lot of great encouragement and support from my other vegetarian friends, especially in the beginning when it was difficult (I hope none of them are secretly cussing me right now), but it was something I did for myself. It started accidentally and became an experiment of sorts.

And whether this means the experiment failed, succeeded or is just on hold for a while, I have decided that now I will try eating fish and no longer be a vegetarian. And yes, fish is meat. Anyone who tells you they are vegetarian but then eats fish is either lying to you or needs a biology refresher course. They are—and I suppose I am now—a pescetarian.

At least for now. I might start to have some of the digestive issues I had when I ate meat and realize that fish brings those back. I might watch Finding Nemo and decide I just can’t deal with the guilt. But for now, I am adding fish* to my diet.

*I haven’t decided yet how I feel, morally, about unlimited crab leg time at Red Lobster.