Today I thought I would share a bit about how and why I became a vegetarian. So, here goes: My path to vegetarianism
I grew up in the typical American omnivorous family. My parents were not and are not particularly health conscious. For the first thirteen or so years of my life, neither was I. In fact, my first flirt with meatless cuisine wasn’t self-instigated; it came from the example of my older sister. Anne Marie is five years older than me and for eleven years she was my one and only sister in a sea of brothers. Growing up, I followed her example in nearly everything, so needless to say, when she decided to stop eating red meat I was immediately on the bandwagon with her. I’m not exactly sure why she stopped eating red meat—whether it was an animal rights issue, a taste aversion, or an idea she picked up reading one of the pop health mags of the nineties ( Prevention and the now extinct Fast and Healthy. With her unique pastimes, she was an pretty interesting little sixth grader, that’s for sure!) In any case, around the age of seven or so I stopped eating red meat…even though I wasn’t quite sure why. My diet was far from healthy, however. I still ate poultry, fish, and dairy…plus liberal amounts of processed junk, white bread, and—my weakness—sweets. I don’t really remember what I ate back then; my sister probably made something for us most nights, but overall the only change was the removal of red meat from my diet.
After my sister left for boarding school, I continued to eat in this fashion—mostly out of habit, I suppose, but also probably because of some mis-guided loyalty. Around age 11 or 12, after some consultation, I reverted back to being a full-on meat eater. I finally realized that the only reason I wasn’t eating red meat was because of my sister, and I saw that as kind of silly.
I continued in this pattern for several years. Although I was never that much of a fan of meat, I readily consumed it. Even while I was anorexic I never had any problem with meat—as long as it was super, super lean (I was severely fat-phobic at that time). Most of the cuts available to me were not up to these specifications, however, and for this reason I didn’t eat much of it then. As my eating disorder slid down the painful path it took, I ate a lot of meat. Mostly because everyone told me I should be eating “normally” and that eating animal flesh would help me get better. Well-meaning as they might be, I still opted out of eating red meat whenever I could.
At around age 16 or so I decided to once again stop consuming red meat. I had several reasons for doing so: because I thought it was cool (a person I respected and looked up to did so. Am I seeing a pattern here?), I really didn’t like it that much, and it just didn’t feel right to me mentally. Keep in mind that I was still eating fish, poultry, and dairy.
Over the years (or months, shall I say), and as I learned more about nutrition, health, vegetarianism, and “real” food, I became more cemented in my conviction against animal products. Eventually, I eliminated poultry and shortly after I stopped eating fish.
Now that you know the “how” stay tuned for tomorrow when I will share the “why”!