Going Vegetarian

There is a major change in my life… a new city, a new house, and… a new way of eating. After years of teetering on the edge and going back and forth on the issue, I have finally decided to take the step toward a vegetarian lifestyle.
Let me first say that I did not come by this decision lightly. A few years ago, my husband and I tried vegetarian recipes and swore off most meat for several months. Somehow we drifted back to our old habits. I guess I was afraid of being labeled a “vegetarian” and never fully committed. But I have always been interested and intrigued.
Then I started reading about factory farms and the myth that the food we eat comes from small family farms. It doesn’t… just go to www.themeatrix.com for the truth and you’ll see. The details are too gruesome for me to repeat. It convinced Andy and me to begin buying organic dairy, eggs, and meat whenever we could. As you can imagine, all are expensive, and it’s hard to find organic meat in our local grocery store. But we did switch to organic dairy and eggs and have never gone back. Imagine, if you will, creamy skim milk that tastes so fresh you’ll swear it’s 2%. And eggs that fluff up beautifully in pancakes and breakfast tacos. We tried to go back to the regular stuff… and discovered a metallic taste that I hadn’t noticed before. Nope.. we were hooked.
The meat thing — that was something different. Generally, I tried to remove myself, and didn’t think about where it came from. We rarely ate beef, but we did enjoy chicken, pork, and fish. But then we drove to Austin. We drove past miles of cattle fields, and I started thinking about where the meat came from. I started thinking about pigs and chickens and dogs and cats and cows and blood and animal screams and myself. And suddenly I couldn’t think about it anymore. I felt like a hypocrite. I felt overweight. I felt like something had to change.
New Years’s Day seemed like a good day to start. I thought that by eliminating meat I could pay better attention to my diet and hopefully drop a few pounds. Maybe in the process I would stop getting food poisoning. Maybe I wouldn’t feel like a hypocrite. I told Andy what I wanted to do, and he said he was ready to go there with me. At first I said I would eat fish. But after a few days and a little research, I realized that being vegetarian meant eating NO animal flesh and that I could get all the nutrients I needed with plant foods. My inspiration? A wonderful book called “The New Becoming Vegetarian.” It’s written by two registered dieticians and does of great job of explaining how each food group contributes nutrients and how to make the transition. A healthy vegetarian diet takes planning, but it’s very rich in flavor. To be honest, I don’t really miss meat. Well, it will be hard to leave behind sushi. And barbeque. But to be honest, most of the meat I used to eat was too heavy for me and made me sick anyway.
I’ve been meat free for three weeks now. I have to admit, it’s hard. It’s hard telling old friends that you no longer want to wonderful foods that you used to enjoy… like lamb kabobs and grilled salmon. It’s hard handling the jokes about vegetarians. There are a lot of nonvegetarians who don’t understand why anyone would want to eat only plant foods. I still haven’t found the right time to tell my own parents. I don’t want them to think that this is just a phase I’m going through… or another fad. This is something I put a lot of thought into and it’s complicated. It intertwines a number of issues that are important for me, like my health, my compassion for animals, and my sensitivity to our environment.
Does that make me some kind of new-age hippie? Does that make me a freak? Will people understand? I hope so. And I hope I can perservere. This is just a first step, and I have a long road ahead.