I recently read a wonderful blog by Matt Frazier, curator of the No Meat Athlete blog called, “Veg Curious? Don’t Be Fooled By These 7 Myths About A Vegetarian Diet“. This article got me thinking about how I ended up a vegetarian. I realized I’ve been toying with vegetarianism for a majority of my life, really, for most of my time here on this planet I have been experimenting with ‘not eating meat’.
My first encounter with not eating meat brings me back to the 70’s. I was a hip young nerdy musical geek who loved Star Trek and Star Wars. I could frequently be found laying in the sand box ‘thinking’. When not thinking, I was tooling around on my bike, playing with Legos, practicing piano and seriously considering what brass instrument to pick-up in 5th grade. Our family was a pretty typical middle-class family. My dad was a band director, my mom was a string teacher (until she lost her job when the strings were cut from the school education program), we had a dog and a cat, a garden, and yes, we had meat for most meals. Some meat didn’t sit well with me…like liver, or london broil, or hot-dogs (which gave me headaches) but dammit(!) we were middle class and we ate meat. (I did too unless I tried to hide the aforementioned meat in various pockets, under the mashed potatoes or in the mouth of the dog.) All classic meat avoidance tactics. But, meat was everywhere and I did eat it a lot, and for the most part enjoyed it.
Fast forward several years at the Interlochen Arts Camp during the summer of 1991. Going through the lunch line was fun. Friends got to hang out and be music nerds together (you mean I’m NOT the only lonely nerd in the world? Hey, you’re just like me!!)
A favorite pastime (for me) was to guess what meat I was eating. I generally got it wrong, then I decided to begin eating salads and vegetables in order to avoid the meat-looking-type-of-protein-patty-surfing-in-a-non-descript-psuedo-unnatural-sauce. Summer was fun. Then I got home, my mom made a great family recipe of coke-roast, or Hungarian Goulash and I naturally avoided the meat. My mom quickly put the kibosh on that. “You live under my roof, you eat my food.” Done.
Years later, I just couldn’t justify eating meat anymore. I was developing my social/political/religious/ethical opinions and supporting giant mega-corporations was something I knew I didn’t want to do. The meat industry, incidentally, is a GIANT mega-corporation that will ration the safety of their product and customers for their bottom dollar. Meat was off my table and veggies were in. Yes, I know our bodies are designed to
eat meat, but our bodies are also designed to eat everything, sooooo…if I could replace what I get from meat (protein for example) by eating solely non-meat items, I’d do that. And I did…put poorly. I was a terrible cook (meaning I didn’t cook) and I ended up just eating mainly cheese and wine. I was a wine and cheese vegetarian. I was also an overweight, unhappy vegetarian with high cholesterol.
I relapsed. I slid hard, back into the carnivorous society. And it was easy! Meat is served EVERYWHERE! In most restaurants, there might be 2 or 3 vegetarian options, if you’re lucky (7 options if you ask them to not add the bacon to every goddamn salad!!) I thrived! I lost weight, I felt better, but there was that nagging thing in my brain (and the high cholesterol too) that made me feel like eating meat wasn’t for me.
I did some research, started thinking about everything I was doing in my life and how I live on this planet. I learned about the amount of resources and energy it takes to produce the meat we eat. I learned how devastating meat production is to the environment. I felt that every ounce of animal product I ate, I was directly contributing to an industry and practice I could not, and cannot endorse or support. Eating meat and having meat to eat as per the Standard American Diet is simply not sustainable. I can’t contribute to that and I haven’t. I haven’t touched meat in about 16 months! I lost nearly 20 pounds, began exercising and am now a responsible, healthy vegetarian and I couldn’t be happier!
In future posts, I’ll talk about the stresses a meat diet does to the environment and how a local diet of mainly fruits, vegetables and whole grains has improved my interior (and exterior) more than I EVER could have thought!
Have any of you ever toyed with vegetarianism?
What attracted you to the ‘no meat’ diet?
Would you ever consider going vegetarian? What would it take to get you there?
I’d be interested in hearing your stories! Leave a comment and let’s chat!