Nicolasa La Vegetariana?

First and foremost, I love all animals.

But 24 hours after the below photo was taken, I had alpaca for lunch. It was the first and quite possibly the last time I will try it. I’ve never felt bad for eating animal meat before, but this time was different. Eating alpaca was not something I had planned on my trip, in fact, I’ve been eagerly waiting (and still waiting) for the opportunity to try Cuy (guinea pig), a Peruvian delicacy first.

One of the tour guides I recently went on had a buffet lunch included in the ticket and while I’m not a huge fan of buffet’s (I actually really hate them!) this one was really delicious and everything I ate including the alpaca was really good. I just couldn’t get that fluffy, floppy little thing I’d carried in my arms just hours ago out of my head. It was so damn cute! Imagine a giant sized ferret with long limbs. Its fur was so soft and its limbs and neck so delicate to the touch. Its head flopped around as it tried to eat my hair and its little row of teeth felt funny against my fingers as I tried to pet it. I didn’t want to put him down, just look at him, why would anyone?!

A rainy day in Cusco con Luz de Maria and her baby Panchito

So why did I eat the alpaca…? Well, to be honest, I’d been trying to avoid eating meat, (hard thing to do here) because I wanted my body to acclimate to the altitude first. I’d been warned numerous times not to eat too heavy, keep meat consumption to a minimum, and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  I have been doing pretty well and haven’t even had much of an urge to drink any alcohol because of the headaches I experienced the first couple of days.

At the buffet, there was an array of local and American dishes, in fact, had it not been for Sandra, one of the friends I made on the tour, I would have never known the dish she served herself was alpaca. It looked like carne de res. When she told me what it was, I thought to myself “Oh my god, I have to try it!” So I went and served myself a small portion. I took only three bites before I started to feel guilty and disgusted with myself. I felt like Lisa with the lamb! “Please Nicolasa-aaa I thought you looved meee. Loooved meee” I felt so sad with myself that I couldn’t eat another bite. I don’t know what took over me, I love meat. I love the smell and taste of carne asada, the crispier and more burnt, the better. And I love pork in all it’s gluttonous form, but the more I drive through the small pueblos and see the livestock around Peru, the more I feel torn and divided about eating meat. At el mercado, there was a designated area for live animals. There were boxes and cages filled with rabbits, chicks, cuy, geese, chickens and even kittens. I couldn’t even get myself to stop and take a photo because I knew most of the animals (hopefully not the kittens!) would be used later for cooking. Now, that isn’t to say that this may be the beginnings of a journey into vegetarianism, but these past few days I’ve been questioning the livelihood of my diet. I love animals. I love them alive and I love them well seasoned. It sounds a bit barbaric, doesn’t it? I feel so torn, put a cheeseburger or some chicharrón in front of me and I will devour it. I’m not really quite sure what to make of these feelings but there’s something there I can’t seem to ignore.

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