I often hear from meat-eaters that they just love the taste of (insert animal food here), well, I’m here to tell you that your palate does change — and sooner than you think.
A thousand years ago when I was young, I loathed and detested olives — honestly couldn’t stand them and would avoid them like the plague. I thought they were revolting and couldn’t understand how anyone could actually eat them, especially on their own.
It wasn’t until I was in my late 30s that I happen to go out with some friends. A beautiful, older couple took us to a very delectable restaurant and treated us to dinner as a way of thanking us for something we’d done for them (can’t remember what and, besides, it’s irrelevant to the story).
The first thing they did after choosing the finest wine was to order a quite sizeable anti-pesto platter. On it was a selection of foods such as a variety of marinated grilled veggies, Italian bread, olive oil with balsamic swirled through it and a large bunch of different olives. Now, because I didn’t touch any of the olives the woman said to me, “help yourself to the olives, they’re so gorgeous.”
I responded by saying, “mmm, I’m not a fan of them, so I’ll pass.”
“When did you try them last?”
“A long, long time ago but I didn’t like them at all.”
I will hand it to her; she did persist, “That’s interesting,” she said, “because our taste buds change over time and something we didn’t like before, we can like now. Tell me, do you prefer sweet or sour?”
“Of the two, I would probably go for sweet.”
“In that case, try one of these,” and she pointed to a green olive, “it’s a Castelvetrano, and it’s more of a sweet olive.”
I tentatively took it and bit into the meaty, buttery flesh and was surprised at the beautiful mild flavour it had.
“Wow, that’s delightful.”
And with that, I proceeded to get a lesson in olives as I tried each one.
This was a real eye-opener for me, understanding that indeed, our taste buds can change over time. Well, you don’t have to wait decades for it to change, it can be as quick as a couple of weeks. The reason is that the buds (cells) naturally expire and regenerate every two weeks. However, as we age, the regeneration slows down, meaning that the cells still die off, but you don’t grow quite so many back. The different combination of cells will mean different experiences with foods.
When I was transitioning to vegan foods, I liked the taste of dairy, especially in my tea. I found it challenging to have soy milk in anything. Then one day, I was taken to a cute hole-in-the-wall coffee shop by my son. There I ordered a flat-white and didn’t think anything of it. When we sat down to wait for our coffees my son (who is vegan) said, “Oh, I forgot to mention that soy milk is the standard here, if you want beast milk (his word for dairy), you have to ask.”
I looked over and saw that the coffees were already being made, so said I wouldn’t worry about it.
Okay, the barista was THE best! Must have been a quality soy milk because it was the most awesome coffee I’d ever had.
I never looked back — although to this day I can’t drink tea, so I switched out the black tea for peppermint tea, and that solved the issue of the dairy.
It certainly only took a couple of weeks for me to get used to the taste of the soy milk. Back then we didn’t have the option of oat, rice, almond or cashew milk — it was soy.
When I first started making my own almond milk it did take a bit of perseverance to acquire the taste for it, but it worked... mind you, I’m sticking to soy in coffee — just letting you know in case I come to your place sometime soon.
There has been a couple of times over the years when I have bitten into something I thought was plant-based, and immediately I could taste the dairy. For me now, it is such a sickening, sweet taste that I have desire what-so-ever to return to eating or drinking it.
If you’re transitioning to a plant-based way of eating, then don’t give up on the different foods. If you’ve tried something in the past and not liked it, perhaps it’s the way you cooked it (I’m talking taste, not texture or smell).
I had a similar thing with mushrooms — still do. BUT and as you can see, it’s a big ‘but’, I now liked them grilled with balsamic glaze and happy if they’re already in something, but still don’t like the ‘sautéed on toast’ type or as a mushroom sauce.
So try a different method of cooking, and you may surprise yourself.
Fee is the Gold Card Vegan, an author and speaker she helps others go into their senior years with vibrancy