When I was in college (back in 19#@?!+), I had my first encounter with a Vegetarian diet. My quirky, cool, Goth roommate from Queens, NY introduced it to me. I was a kid from the South and she seemed so cool and cultivated so I thought, “Why the heck not?” This, however was a very brief encounter that went a little something like this…
I tried it only for about a week after witnessing my roommate, who no longer exemplified “cool,” mistakenly consume a piece of beef and spend two days doubled over a toilet. I quickly decided that a Vegetarian diet was probably not for me. I was spooked back to The Land of Omnivores.
My second encounter was after I had my second child 8 years ago. I was strictly looking for a way to improve the quality of my overall health. Diabetes was running rampant on my dad’s side of the family and heart disease had already claimed the lives of my maternal grandparents, so I did what many parents do after they have children – – consider the longevity of their lives and the impact that their death would have on their children.
I started a meat elimination approach the same day President Obama took his historical oath of office. I will always remember that day because I was also taking an oath.
For the next year, I seesawed. It was basically due to what I perceived to be, at the time, a lack of convenience. I had 2 children under the age of 3, so the thought of mapping out my meals was a foreign concept. Although I had taken the time to thoroughly research the benefits of a meatless diet, I had not researched or experimented with very many plant-based food options, thereby limiting the variety on my plate. So, I’d categorize myself as a Flexitarian that first year.
During the elimination process, the first to leave my palate was the easiest – pork. It was just something I never really had much of in the first place. Next was another easy one for me – beef. Chicken soon followed. My obstacles were turkey and fish, so I held off several months on totally eliminating turkey as I continued the vicious cycle of adding it back in and taking it back out. It took over a year of seesawing before I finally severed all ties.
Fish and seafood elimination was also difficult and pretty recent for me. In September 2013, I decided that I would only have it on vacation because we were always going to Florida, a place notorious for the freshest assortment of fish. Then, in 2014, after a Key West trip, that involved my favorite – Sea Bass, I decided to bury seafood for good. During the trip I noticed that consuming it didn’t give me the “party in my mouth” experience like it had in the past. It wasn’t worth it anymore. I was officially a Vegetarian.
So, why Vegan?
During my Vegetarian journey, I was exposed to how meat and meat by-products are processed in our factories and how meat consumption was an unsustainable and flawed ideal for our environment and its precious resources. I decided to shift my focus of health awareness to also include one of compassion and responsibility. My Vegetarian objective shifted to Veganisim.
At first, it was going to be an experiment – a test of my commitment to the cause. But I soon noticed that my body responded even more positively to a Vegan diet than a Vegetarian diet.
Again, I knew that my personality warranted a slower transition. I had to “ease in to it.” Up until a few months ago, I was a Weekday Vegan. I would indulge in cheese and dairy products only on the weekend. Now, I am an Everyday Vegan, who does still make the occasional slip-up. I am what I consider a work in progress. Never in a million years did I think that that same impressionable college student, petrified by her roommate’s horrid experience, would find her purpose on a plate of braised greens, marinated tofu, and lemon and herb-infused barley. Go figure.