If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that I’ve only become very serious about being vegetarian since the beginning of this year. And while that is nearly 6 months now, it’s still not really that long in the grand scheme of things. Even before I became a total vegetarian I was eating less and less meat, but actually consciously thinking about what I was eating didn’t happen on a serious level until this past January.
While I stopped eating meat and dairy entirely (meat was a personal choice, dairy was out of medical necessity), I was still consuming eggs, yogurt, sour cream, and other animal products such as casein, a milk protein used in many lactose-free soy cheeses/products. I did make an effort to buy cage-free eggs and other organic items, but I didn’t stop to think about where those items were actually coming from.
A few weeks ago I was in Barnes and Noble and I came across a book called Eating Animals. The book looked very interesting and like it was a lot of research, which is something I enjoy reading. The main goal of the book is not necessarily to convert people to vegetarianism or veganism, but to educate them on where their food is coming from. Fifteen pages in, I decided it was time to make the jump to veganism. The longer I am a vegetarian, the more I see how wrong it is what we do to animals just so we can eat – especially when there are so many cruelty-free choices out there.
Chalk it up to my revived love of cooking and experimentation in the kitchen or my goal to eat healthier, but whether it’s that or my always-present-never-quite-surfaced moral objection to animal cruelty, I believe that the vegan lifestyle is the way I need to be living in order to match my inside with my outside. While I will begin this process gradually, I plan to be completely vegan by the end of June. I do not believe in wasting food, therefore I will finish the animal products that I have in my pantry/refrigerator, however, I will not be eating any of these things when I go out to eat nor will I eat them if I don’t have to.
Because I am beginning on another lifestyle change, I will be starting a new blog called The Unintentional Vegan. I will let everyone know when the blog is up and running, but that being said, I will not post on here much more. I have a few recipes that I will share, however once the new blog is up this one will no longer be updated. If you been reading, thank you, and I hope you continue to follow me on my journey to a new, healthier, happier me.
After two months (and a week or so) of being a vegetarian, there are a few things I’ve learned. Firstly, I’ve learned how to balance my diet and not just replace meat with sugar or carbs. While this was probably the hardest part about the first month or so of being a vegetarian, I’ve found that just by broadening my culinary horizons I can have just as balanced of a diet as any omnivore.
Secondly, I learned that people will always be a little apprehensive when I tell them about my lifestyle change. For people that I don’t know, telling them I’m a vegetarian doesn’t give any reason for a pause. However, for people that I’ve known for a long time, telling them I don’t eat meat anymore is almost like a personal insult. Mind you, not everyone reacts the same, but many people question the change and automatically say, “So you gave up all meat? But you still eat fish right?” This is one of my favorite lines. No, I don’t eat fish, because fish is a meat and I don’t eat meat.
It shouldn’t be a foreign concept in this day and age, but many people that I know still think it’s a bit strange. I did get a great piece of feedback today though from someone I don’t know who said that those who think my eating habits are strange are probably just self-conscious about their own. I don’t think that notion always holds true, but I think it probably resonates with people who are particularly defensive when I tell them.
Lastly, I learned that the more time goes by when I don’t eat meat, the more conscious I am about what I put in my body and about the lasting imprint my lifestyle has on the world. What I mean by that, mostly, is that the more time that goes by without meat in my life, the more conscious I am about animal rights and the environment. I can definitely see how a vegetarian lifestyle can lead to a vegan one, and I’m not altogether opposed to the idea – in the future, that is.
Overall, it’s been a great couple of months and I feel better than I have in years. I am happier and my digestive problems have all but subsided (unless I go a little crazy with the dairy). While I don’t think vegetarianism is for everyone, I’m glad it’s a choice that I’ve made for myself.
One thing that has surprised me so far this month is that I haven’t craved meat at all. I thought I’d have a few moments of weakness or at least a few cravings, but I really haven’t had any of that. However, a few nights ago I did experience something that was possibly worse than a craving or moment of weakness: I had a dream that I chowed down on some meatballs.
The dream started out innocently enough – I was at a Super Bowl party enjoying the football game and having a few laughs. Then it was halftime, and we all know what happens at halftime: we eat. I went into the kitchen and loaded up my plate indiscriminately and then sat down to indulge in the treats before me. I put my fork into a juicy meatball and as I put it to my mouth someone sitting next to me said, “Oh, you’re eating meat now?” But by then it was too late, the meatball was in my mouth. I spit it out immediately, but the damage was done.
I woke up in a cold sweat, literally, and was in a panic about the fact that I had eaten meat. It took me a few moments to realize that it was only a dream, but I was still a bit shaken by the whole thing. Needless to say, I think I’d rather have the occasional craving than another meatball dream.
Since I stopped eating meat (20 days ago now), I’ve been told on several occasions that I can’t really call myself a vegetarian yet because not eating meat for two weeks does not a vegetarian make. While I generally understand their sentiment, I do not agree with it – for two reasons:
1) Just because I’m insufferable does not mean you can belittle my vegetarianism. I know people think I’m just trying to be difficult, but this is something I’m fully committed to. If you are simply annoyed by the fact that I don’t eat meat anymore, then don’t hang out with me, especially around feeding time. It’s not like I walk around broadcasting that I ditched the meat, I only make it known when being asked about what I’d like to eat. So if you don’t like me calling myself a vegetarian, then don’t find yourself around me while I’m eating.
2) What else am I supposed to say when offered meat at a meal? I mean, come on, am I just supposed to say that I stopped eating meat? Isn’t it a lot easier for me to just say I’m a vegetarian? It just seems like a lot of extra work to beat around the bush and avoid the scary word “vegetarian”.
The point I’ve been trying to make to my friends and family, who I must say have taken a weird turn and are NOT supporting my decision to become a vegetarian, is that I am a vegetarian. Regardless of how long I’ve gone without meat, I am a vegetarian, so if you are simply having a problem with semantics then just keep your comments to yourself.