Note: This is a long, rambly post that started out one way and ended another. I debated on deleting it and starting over, but I kinda like the way it turned out. So, I’ll just throw in some pictures, and we’ll call it even.
What people eat is a huge issue for some. Some people swear that they’re meat and potatoes only kind of people. That’s how Sean was when I met him–didn’t eat anything green. Some people take offense when I tell them I’m a vegetarian: “You know all the soy you eat kills rain forests?” “Slaves probably pick your vegetables.” Some people feel the need to defend their way of eating: “Well, good for you, but I prefer meat.” Some people are apologetic: “I bet this cheeseburger smells terrible to you. I’m so sorry I’m eating it in front of you.”
For the record, I really don’t care what you choose to eat (except for you people who refuse to eat any vegetables other than potatoes–please eat something green once a day!). I try not to judge people’s food choices. Try is the key word here, because I have a hard time feeling nonjudgmental toward something like the Heart Attack Grill which serves Single, Double, Triple, and Quadruple Bypass Burgers. Just thinking about that makes my chest hurt. Breathe, Carolyn. Breathe.
I appreciate it when people don’t judge my food choices, though I know there’s inherent judgment from family and friends when I can only order a salad or side dishes when we go out to eat. You don’t need to defend your cheeseburger or apologize for it, though. It actually smells pretty good, just like most other kinds of food would.
Since I started on my vegetarian journey almost 2 years ago, weight loss has never been a goal or an outcome. While I did gain some weight during marathon training (which was long after my choice to become vegetarian, and I’ve actually read is fairly common, especially for women), my choice to become a vegetarian wasn’t motivated by my body, but instead my mind/heart. I chose to stop eating animal products (meat) for ethical reasons. I still eat dairy and eggs. For me, eggs are a vital and easy source of protein that I like.
Fast forward to today.
I try to be honest on this blog, even at the expense of my own embarrassment and/or the judgment of others. And I wanted to discuss how my temptation to leave vegetarianism has led me to an existential breakthrough. Don’t get me wrong. I’m still fully committed to no meat, because I cannot shake the feeling that I’m contributing to the mass killing of defenseless animals in disgusting and horrific conditions.
I’ve been thinking here and there about incorporating meat into my diet once or twice a week to help supplement protein intake, build muscle, and keep my diet more balances. I’ll admit, I’m not always the best vegetarian. Sometimes I opt for convenience (pizza, pasta, cinnamon rolls) more than health (salad, stir fry, veggies).
Om nom nom.
However, I’m not totally convinced that I can eat meat again without feeling like a bad person, and worse, without feeling like a hypocrite. I really only want to eat it out of convenience for myself, and that’s why I stopped eating it to begin with–because I didn’t want to be someone who ate meat blindly out of convenience, contributing to factory farming. I know it’s possible to train for races, perform well, and stay healthy (healthier, in fact) on a vegetarian diet. See NoMeatAthlete.com.
There are parts of eating meat that I really miss. Mainly shrimp. I just started liking shrimp when I decided to become a vegetarian. Who know it’d be the only thing I’d miss? But I find myself thinking, “That looks delicious,” when I see a Longhorn Steakhouse commercial about a medium-rare steak with mashed potatoes and green beans. I find myself wondering how easy meal planning would be if I could make everything in the crock pot like I see on Pinterest. How many microwave dinners could I just chuck in and nuke for a quick lunch or dinner?
But I know I’m just being lazy. Vegetarianism is easier if you make the time to make it easier. Meal planning is not a hassle. It’s even cheaper since we’re not buying meat. Sure, Sean would be a lot happier if we added meat back into our diets, if for no other reason than he’d be able to eat his favorite recipes more often.
I just couldn’t, though. I can’t. There’s no way I could eat a steak and not think about how this cow was raised to die, and it could have been stunned improperly before being slaughtered. And, ugh, slaughterhouses are disgusting. There’s no way I could eat chicken without thinking about how poor, helpless animals are debeaked and stuffed to the throat with antibiotics and feed so they can’t walk and their legs break beneath them. There’s no way I could eat pork without thinking of how inhumane people become while working at slaughterhouses, actually doing things just to harm and hurt animals before they’re killed for meat. I can’t eat seafood without thinking about all the ecosystems that are destroyed when huge nets are cast, catching everything in range, and letting it die regardless of whether it’s what’s being fished or not.
I can’t not think about that. And I know it makes me a bleeding heart (says the person who’s spent a ridiculous amount on my own pets/kids).
So while I see a deliciously juicy steak on TV or heavenly looking recipes on Pinterest, it’s ok to doubt myself and to wish I could consume the things that just taste good. But I remind myself that if I ate only what tasted good, I’d probably have cinnamon rolls and waffles for every meal.
It’s ok to doubt your belief system, to doubt yourself and why you’ve chosen the path you have. (I’m turning vegetarian into a pretty existential topic, eh?) Because I think those moments help you realize why you’ve chosen a specific path, why you sometimes choose a different road than others may choose, why you prefer one way of living and someone else prefers another.
You may find yourself talking you back into the road–whether it be a lifestyle, a religion, a way of eating, your health and fitness, whatever. Sometimes you have to have those moments of weakness to remind yourself WHY this road is the right road for you. That’s ok!
Do what you have to do to be you. But know that it’s ok to change. It’s ok to go back on what you said if it means a lot to you. And it’s ok not to go back on what you said if you can’t justify the change. Just live life Cat Stevens/Harold and Maude style:
If you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
You can do what you want
The opportunity’s on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo