I try not to be one of those “annoying” vegetarians. I typically don’t flat out refuse a restaurant because the only veggie option is literally a side of vegetables. If someone is ordering lunch, I ask if they don’t mind getting a vegetarian option, but I’m not a diva about it if there isn’t one. I know people don’t share my eating habits, and though I wish people ate less animals for a variety of reasons, I don’t typically preach this point of view unless asked.
People ask me if I ever miss meat, and I can honestly say I don’t. I’ll tell you why.
I just don’t like it.
When I would have meat growing up, I was never into it. I rarely finished my meal if there was meat in it and generally preferred other foods. Then, either on a 7th or 8th grade class trip (my memory is notoriously bad with dates), a bunch of us decided we were going to be vegetarians. For some that lasted the trip, for others – like me – it lasted a while.
I was completely meat and fish free throughout high school, and it actually had nothing to do with the restrictive eating I self-imposed from ages 13 – 15. I genuinely had no appetite for it. Not that I really ate vegetables either, but I didn’t miss it.
Going into my freshman year of college, I decided to reintroduce poultry and seafood back into my diet. I figured that I needed protein and we all know I wasn’t going to prepare my own food, so I should get used to eating some meat again. The thought of red meat still grossed me out, so that was still on the no fly list. (And it still is… I haven’t touched the stuff since middle school).
Chicken and turkey I would tolerate, but I did grow a taste for seafood, particularly shrimp, crab and muscles (best… jew… ever…).
About six or seven years ago (again… bad with dates), I had a revelation. I just really, really don’t like meat. My husband would make a chicken breast for dinner and I’d barely touch it, and an hour later would be hungry for non-meat food. It literally was one day just deciding not to eat meat anymore. And I figured I’d throw in fish too, because I don’t like doing anything halfway and I didn’t love it enough or crave it enough to want to have it regularly. My husband has a similar relationship to meat and easily made the decision to join me to create a meat free house.
Around that time, I decided to take a stab at veganism. Like I said, I don’t go halfway. I’d allow myself my Saturday morning bagels with cream cheese and would occasionally have pizza, but 80% of the time I was pretty faithful to no dairy. I’d never felt more energized or healthy in my life.
Then I got pregnant and literally only wanted cheese, so that was the end of veganism. I literally inhaled half a deep dish pizza three days before I found out I was pregnant. #noregrets
This is where I’ll get A LITTLE preachy. The book Eating Animals was an eye opener for me in terms of how the meat industry is regulated and how the conditions that most of these animals endure. It’s not just about my taste preferences. After finishing that book, I knew – with certainty – that I will never eat meat again.
Raising meat for food consumption is an enormous environmental drain. It takes almost 20 times less land to feed someone on a plant-based diet than it does to feed a meat-eater. It takes 10 pounds of grain to produce one pound of meat. The returns just don’t seem worth it to me.
Again, while I would love if more of our world embraced a vegetarian diet, I understand there are family and cultural traditions where meat plays a role. Life is short and people should be able to enjoy food and experiences that they enjoy. I just don’t enjoy meat, therefore I don’t eat it.
People ask me if the smell of bacon makes me want to eat bacon. It doesn’t. It isn’t something that is appealing to me. People ask me if I miss meat or fish. I never, ever crave red meat or poultry. I do miss fish on occasion. We had a sea bass at our wedding that if I had the opportunity to eat again, I would probably go back and forth on eating it. Joe’s Stone Crab was one of my favorite places, but I don’t make it a point to go there anymore – and if I did – I’d have a fleeting, “oh that looks good” thought and then would get the veggie choice.
I am by no means a perfect vegetarian.I could eat cleaner. I eat way more cheese and bread than I should and not enough greens. I eat a lot of pre-packaged snacks and don’t prepare my own meals enough. I eat way more sugar than any healthy person should. I graze, I don’t savor my food. That said, I feel 100% confident that I’m making the right decision for my own health and well-being.
And I promise that will be my only preaching on the topic (maybe).