This is a post about my experience as a vegetarian.
Feel free to ask me questions if you want to…
…just please be nice about it!
I’ve been varying degrees of vegetarian since 1997. There have been times where I have known people for five or six years and they have never known this about me. It’s something I try to keep to myself, and instead lead by example. In all honesty I prefer new friends have the opportunity to get to know me, and then be surprised to find out my deep dark secret. I sort of kid. I would rather pick fruit out of a jello salad than hurt the feelings of anyone who has been kind enough to feed me. I get a fair amount of questions about why I’m veg and also about what I do and don’t eat, and what sorts of beauty products I use. This is a sort of FAQ style post to give you the Cliff Notes version of my “lifestyle.”
BUT WHY DID YOU STOP EATING MEAT?
It all started at a family reunion–I thought if I could make it through all that great meaty food without any on my plate that I would be well on my way to a new lifestyle. But why? I quit eating meat for possibly the worst possible reason: I had a crush on a boy who was a vegan. As fate would have it, he secretly started eating meat about the time I stopped. He confessed a few months later after I had already gotten used to the new habit. There had been a few other precipitating factors–that lamb stew incident in Spain and later the environmental science class I took and the many articles I read in National Geographic magazine. It seemed like I knew too much to keep eating meat in the way I had been.
The best explanation: I’m tenderhearted.
I was a strict ovo-lacto vegetarian (meaning I ate eggs and dairy) for about three years before I had started contemplating adding fish and seafood back into my diet. At the time I had a pet Beta fish named “Frederick the Frank Fish” and there was no way I was going to eat any fish while I still had a pet that was one. However, it was also during this time that I had most of my experiences with slaughter.
I got involved in 4-H and livestock during my early teens. After that I worked on two farms where I participated in many of the gory aspects of farm life: breeding, preg checks, birth, dehorning, deworming, castration, and varying causes of death. I helped with the slaughter and cleaning of chickens, ducks, and geese. I helped process deer and hogs. I went fishing, and cleaned what I caught. I did all of this as a vegetarian. Of all those things, the fish bothered me the least. It felt like I was strong enough to be in control physically. Now I’m what is called an ovo-lacto-pescatarian. I don’t eat much ‘pesca’ (seafood) but when I do, I try to buy sustainable and wild caught.
That leads me in to my main point of continuing to be a vegetarian after nearly 19 (!?!??!) years. My personal goals are focused on causing as little harm to animals and humans as possible. I strive to be conscious consumer. This means that I try to support as many local businesses (and charities) as I can and I try to buy products that are healthy for me and the environment. I hope you’ll notice that I say this with honest humility–because I love all sorts of things that don’t really fall in to that category…plastic toys and fashionista stuff AND FRIED FOOD being at the top of my naughty list. See rule #4 😉 But seriously, I try to limit the things I let myself consume (be that Shopkins or mozzarella sticks) that aren’t so good for me. Moderation, y’all. I TRY.
Here are my rules:
#1: Don’t get hung up when you slip up.
At least once a year I inadvertently eat something that has meat in it. Most recently it was a cake that had jello in it. Once it was a quiche that I thought had “veggie sausage” crumbles in it–nope, it was the real deal. Another time, after ordering veggie pot stickers I ate about eight of the things before I realized there was definitely ground pork in them. First off, try not to freak out. My main concern at this point in my tenure is whether or not I’m going to get sick. I’m not going to lie; I contemplate the sick now or sick later options. In the instance of the pork pot stickers, I purged because I probably would have been sick for at least a day otherwise. As a non-meat eater, I get really sick when my body has to process stuff it’s not used to.
One of the products I choose not to eat is gelatin but one of the medications I take on a daily basis has a gel capsule. I know this, and I take the pills anyway (FYI-it’s an extended release drug that can’t be taken another way). I ate Jiffy cornbread mix for YEARS before I found out it had lard in it. It never dawned on me to read the label of a bread mix to check for meaty bits. The point is, do YOUR personal best and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t be perfect.
#2: Don’t fall into the defeatist rabbit hole.
You cannot save all the oceans, animals, trees, and children. Sometimes I just have to put my blinders on so that I don’t get too sad. You should be aware, but for goodness sake turn the channel when the ASPCA Sarah McLaughlin commercials come on. Donate LOCALLY. Be involved LOCALLY. Find out what you can do to help keep animals safe in YOUR community. Find out what your food pantry needs. Help your neighbors and your friends. Foster pets from the shelter. Pick up trash even if it isn’t yours. The point is, do YOUR personal best and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t be perfect.
#3: Vote with your dollars.
This may seem obvious, but it’s the best way to support businesses you love. I try my hardest to buy cruelty free and avoid anything that has animal products. Everyone had different personal needs with this. I still occasionally buy leather shoes. My personal reasoning is that they last longer and I thereby use fewer resources. I also wear a leather belt–it was my dad’s and it is pretty much the only belt I ever wear. Y’all know I love fashion, but I buy Made in America products any time I can. I buy a lot second hand, I ALWAYS donate the things I don’t use anymore, and sometimes I make my own clothes.
As far a buying brands goes, I buy what I can afford. You’re not being a concious consumer if you live beyond your means. I’ve gotten a little irked over the latest craze with the company Beauty Counter. They sell healthy and cruelty free products but with a super steep price tag. $41 for foundation? $40 for blush? $38 for a cosmetic BAG?! You do NOT need that WHITE make-up bag. Not to mention, every person on the website is pretty white. But I digress. Needless to say, I can’t afford that. I use e.l.f. or Wet ‘n’ Wild for cosmetics. They’re done well for me over the years and cost a fraction of other brands and are definitely at least cruelty free.
I’ve read mixed tales about whether V05 is cruelty-free or not. I’ve got a letter in to customer service right now and I’ll let you know what I hear back. Even though V05 isn’t the most eco friendly (sulfates) it’s less than a dollar and *hopefully* cruelty-free. When I can afford it, I go to a health food store and buy whatever is less than $5 a bottle and says volumizing on the bottle. Remember, the bigger the hair, the closer to God. I’m kidding; sort of 😉 The point is, do YOUR personal best and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t be perfect.
#4: Do what is best for you and don’t be a jerk.
No one likes a judgmental jerk (except for vegans…JOKING!!!) Show people who you are by your attitude and actions not by preaching and cramming your beliefs down other folks’ palettes. It’s a well used phrase but you’ll draw way more flies with honey than with vinegar…unless you’re a vegan SORRY teehee! The vegan jokes are so easy. Just be good to each other. Don’t forget, the point is, do YOUR personal best and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t be perfect.
NOW HERE ARE SOME FUNNY MEMES!
YOU DESERVE A GOOD CHUCKLE!