I’m about two weeks away from my 6-month mark of quitting meat.
You can call me an ethical vegetarian (I’ve learned a lot about labels) but I appreciate the health benefits, too.
If you’re new around here, the long-story-short is, I adopted a pig and couldn’t fathom eating pork anymore. That eventually turned into giving up all meat and adopting a second pig. More on that here.
It’s been a fun, hard, sad, joyous and wine-filled journey. Here’s what I’ve learned:
Everybody wants to talk about what I eat
Whether it’s around the holiday dinner table where a relative insists on asking (seriously, every time I see them) why I’m doing this while also explaining all the reasons said person could never do it, or out with friends where someone is bound to speak for me to tell the server I don’t eat meat (when did I lose my ability to speak?) someone is always talking about my diet!
Shall we talk about your diet? How many calories did you eat today? “Hey waitress, don’t offer us any desserts because my friend is on a diet and can’t eat sugar.”
I would NEVER say either one of those things, so why must we continue to discuss what I put into my body?
Don’t get me wrong, if you have questions I am more than happy to answer them. Hell, I’m even fine discussing why I’m doing this. But what I don’t need is your reason for why you choose to eat meat, nor do I need you to speak for me (I know it’s because you care, but my diet is my business, not yours).
Besides, if steak is so good (one of many excuses I hear all the time), why do we have to cook it, season it and smother it with sauce? Just food for thought …
Going out to eat is hard
I knew it was going to be hard. But what’s really frustrating is when I find myself in situations where my only options for food are chips and salsa, mac ‘n cheese or french fries.
None of these are ideal. And yes, some restaurants don’t even have salad. But surprise! I don’t want eat salad for every meal!
This requires some planning. I always look at a menu before I go so I can decide if I need to make something at home before I go out. That way I can eat something filling and healthful at home and either drink my dinner (totally have done that) or plan to munch on the chips and salsa.
Yes, I’ve become that person at restaurants. I ask to make changes to items or question if there is bacon in the salad or mac ‘n cheese or, you know, everything on the menu because in America, there is bacon in everything.
I’ve made mistakes, sometimes on purpose
I don’t eat seafood because fish have feelings, too. Seriously, it’s been proven! But the thing is, I have had seafood I believe three time in six months.
Why? Once was at a restaurant with my grandparents. I was in desperate need of protein and was stuck with a non-vegetarian friendly menu, but I really wanted to take them there because they would enjoy it.
Another time I had a bite of Michael’s conch fritters because I was tipsy at a bar and very hungry.
And one time I ordered shrimp. I don’t know why. They were gross.
Update: I went to a seafood festival this weekend and ate a lot of fried clams. No shark for me though!
I want to be vegan
I’ve touted myself as vegan(ish) a few times, which I still identify with. Some days I will eat completely vegan (no dairy or any animal products) and some days I’ll have eggs and cheese.
Yes, I know youcould never give up cheese, I’ve heard that so many times.
I can and I want to because the dairy industry is horrible! But it’s hard. Michael still eats dairy and some days it’s just easier to have to quesadilla (he makes bomb tofu quesadillas) than to figure out alternatives or eat vegan cheese which is, well, interesting.
Faux meat baffles me
We’ve been eating more faux meats lately, mostly because we both desperately need the protein. We both lift weights 4-6 days a week.
The faux chicken has the same taste and texture is real chicken. How we can manipulate soy and other stuff to emulate meat completely baffles me — and totally grosses me out.
I have to track my carbs
I track protein, too, because when you give up meat, you typically head to carb-rich foods to fill that void (give me all the pasta!).
I learned pretty quick that wasn’t going to work with my body.
I never used to eat pasta and I still don’t. I’ve found other things to fill me.
Some days are really hard
Yes, I’m still missing those damn chicken wings. And some days I lose my focus and ask myself, “why am I doing this?” “Am I really making a difference?”
Yes, I am making a difference. I remind myself that no animal deserves to be killed (typically in a horrible manner) so I can enjoy a meal of its flesh.
Pass the spinach please!
I’m really happy with my choice
I get to look into the eyes of my two pigs every day and know that because of them, I’m doing my part in this world to fight animal cruelty, speciesism, factory farming and the slaughtering of millions of animals every day.
That’s something I’m proud of <3