This November I celebrate two years being vegetarian. I wanted to share a little about my vegetarianism because I feel like my approach is a little different and may be helpful to others who are vege-curious.
I should start by saying that I’ve always been interested in vegetarianism, even during phases in my life when I was completely opposed to it, the fact that I felt so strongly against it indicated that the lifestyle choice was somehow important to me.
My reasons are ethical. Ever since I was old enough to understand I was eating an animal I felt like I was betraying, in a small way, some personal conviction within me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t wracked with guilt over every chicken nugget; actually, years would go by without so much as a thought about vegetarianism, but still I would come back to this feeling every so often that I can only describe as “unease.”
I’m not going to spend any more time on this because there is WAY TOO MUCH food shaming going on out there and vegetarians (and vegans), I’m sorry to say, are among some of the worst proponents. I don’t want to give the impression that vegetarianism is right and meat eating is wrong. I don’t believe this to be true. I believe we are all on our own journey, and where I am right now, in this incarnation, vegetarianism is part of MY soul expansion.
Being a total and absolute foodie is also part of my journey. I love food—really delicious food, sweet and savory, prepared with love and beautifully presented. Meat is especially nom-nommy. Becoming a vegetarian, I should mention, is much easier if your tastes naturally diverge from animal sources. Mine do not. If you were to lay a fine cut of rare steak in front of me right of now I guarantee my salivary glands will kick into overdrive and my pupils will dilate like I’m gazing at a lover.
So how did I Commit To Vegetarianism?
Well, the catalyst was a food documentary. I think it was Vegucated. A small part of the movie focuses on organic sourced chicken and how animals are prepared and killed for mass consumption. It broke my heart. Yes, processing free-range “happier” chickens was enough for me to make a commitment that day. I’ll the spare the details here but perhaps I’ll post about it later. Again, I want to keep this post accessible to everyone and not turn them away with the dirty details.
I needed a plan that satisfied my stomach as well as my moral position. I knew that all diets (diets being the restriction of food in some form) have a 98% failure rate. That’s when I decided to be a 5 Day Vegetarian. That day, I committed to a plant-based diet Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday were fair game to eat as much meat as I wanted. Sticking to it was easy because it didn’t feel restrictive. After several weeks I began to tell close friends that I was quazi-vegetarian and to my relief, they got it. My husband was also supportive, but it took him more than a year to fully understand that I was not eating meat. He prepares most of our home-cooked meals and would often forget I didn’t eat meat. To make it easier on him, I ate whatever he cooked, less the meat, and kept some standbys (veggie patties, Boca nuggets, or tofu) on hand when I needed to modify his meals.
It only took about two months before I started opting out of meat on the weekends too. I felt good and psychologically, I knew I could always go back to enjoying my favorite animal-based foods on the weekend if I wanted.
Giving myself a pass is the only way I can stick to vegetarianism. Honestly, food-shaming yourself is just as bad as doing it to others. Shame does not foster a healthier, happier life. If anything, it’s more likely to create a demon born of guilt and fear; more likely to create a food compulsion. Although I rarely eat meat now, sometimes I do and I can do it because I know I’m still making the best choice for me. I’m not contributing financially to the meat industry. I’m still saving about 100 animals per year, and I’m honoring that little voice inside me that knew, since I was 4 years old, that a plant-focused diet was part of my path.
If you’re considering vegetarianism I urge you to be kind to yourself and start in a way that honors your heart as much as your body. If 5 days is too much, try just one day a week. It still saves about 14 animals per year and that’s something to feel good about. The important thing is that you are being mindful and deliberate.∞
“What if self-loving today, may not be self-loving tomorrow? What you want today may not be what you want tomorrow. What brings you joy today, may not be what brings you joy tomorrow. This is why life changes when you keep going in the direction of self-love, desire and joy. But the answer is not to deny yourself love, deny yourself your wants and deny yourself joy. The answer is to let your life change” ~Teal Swan