I’ll preface this article by saying I’m a vegetarian. I’ve seen the looks on meat lover’s faces when I tell them as much. Not all, but many imagine I am tree-hugging hippie with arrogant ideals and a tiara to match my superior status. But it just ain’t so. With the Thanksgiving holiday just weeks ahead, I was asked to write an article called My Meatless Thanksgiving for one of my freelance clients. It was a fun topic (and a bit controversial) so I thought I’d discuss it again here…
What it Means to Be a Vegetarian
I am not from another planet where pepperoni is profane. I don’t judge my bacon-loving buddies, and I don’t find it hard to eat out with any one of them. If you’re among the carnivorous crowd, take me to your barbecue. I’ll get down with an ear of corn, a plate of baked beans, and a cold adult beverage. I’m not shy. So what does it mean to be a vegetarian? For me, it means I don’t eat burgers, brats, or hot wings. It means I don’t feel right about meat consumption, and so my plate may look different from yours. But it’s my plate, so don’t take it personally.
How I arrived at Vegetarianism
My mama didn’t fill my sippy cup with kale smoothies. In fact, I grew up with meat on the menu. I mostly hated it then, and not for any of the reasons some vegetarians choose the meat-free lifestyle. The word vegetarian was never in my vocabulary, and the philosophy of focusing on plant-based foods was beyond me and most people I knew. It’s only recently become more apparent, along with the popularity and acceptance of veganism (even in public places like health food markets/organic food stores and modern restaurants).
As a child, I’d ask my mom what kind of “animal” we were eating as she sliced the meat at the family table. I’d wrinkle my nose and promptly be chastised for my poor manners. Eating beef didn’t feel quite right then, and after many years of preparing chicken, I began to loath poultry too. If I think about it now, the self-awareness that yoga has helped me cultivate is probably what pushed me onto the meatless path.
In a previous post, I talked about riding the diet roller coasters and how yoga has helped me to develop healthier habits, listen to my inner promptings, and begin to eat and live an authentic life.
Sure, the ethical reasons to abstain from meat make sense to me, and the health reasons are a huge draw too. But honestly, I chose vegetarianism because it just felt right for me.
3 Things I’d Say to A Meat Eater
- Let’s not get caught up in arguments about our opposing views. Your food choices are all your own, and mine are MINE. I refuse to feel guilty about who I am or the path I’ve chosen. That said, I don’t propose you feel guilty about your choices either.
- I am not silently judging you. I respect your right to make choices that suit you. Who am I to begrudge you a burger, or steak, or whatever your little heart desires?
- Please don’t ask probing questions about my diet while we’re passing a platter at a holiday feast, or sharing a table at some celebration. I don’t enjoy the spotlight enough to engage in a public debate. I just want to eat! We can have that conversation later, in a more appropriate place.
Rest assured meat lovers, I am not in the business of converting you. Some staunch vegetarians may have noble-sounding arguments about the ethics involved. They might tell you that a meatless lifestyle is the most conscientious and humane path. They may even cite statistics on environmentalism, the energy used for animal protein production, and the toxic waste that’s involved. But I won’t go there. I believe that every human being ought to let his conscience be his guide. Let’s explore our own best paths and stay true to what feels good for us, individually.
I am grateful for the diverse world in which we live.
Mantra: Love is the absence of judgement. ~Dalai Lama