I’ve always been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I don’t always stick to them, but I like the idea behind them. Making a goal for yourself is always a good thing – I do it all the time, not just for a new year. Sometimes the goals are small, sometimes they are bigger ones. BUT the psychology nerd in me loves to measure outcomes and starting something on January 1st is an easy way to watch how close you’ve come to your goal. For instance, I gave up Diet Coke (I was an avid Diet Coke drinker – almost drinking three cans a DAY at the most) on January 1st, 2014. I’m very excited to celebrate two years of not drinking Diet Coke on the first day of 2016! That change led to other small changes – I no longer drink ANY soda. This wasn’t a goal when I quit Diet Coke, but it was a great effect.
See how making goals for yourself is awesome?
So, I’ve been thinking a lot about what goals I want to reach in 2016. I already made a quite detailed list in my private journal, but I want to share a big one here. And keep in mind that this is something I’ve already been silently working on, but it’s time to “go public” with it. I have been mulling over in my mind how best to let everyone I know about this, and I’ve decided my blog is the best avenue.
I have decided to quit eating meat.
I feel better when I eat less meat.
I’ve experimented with this, because I almost made this my resolution for 2015 but didn’t. When I eat meat, I feel more lethargic than when I get my protein from plant based sources. Quinoa is filling and I don’t feel quite as sluggish as I do after eating, say, a hamburger. When I eat greasier meats, I tend to make worse food decisions afterwards, whereas when I eat plant based proteins, I tend to eat more fruits and veggies instead of sugar induced snacks. I may be making the correlation up in my mind, but it seems legit. I also found myself buying chicken breasts, cooking them, and then not eating it. So, I stopped buying meat. It’s probably been a year and some change since I bought meat to prepare for myself at home. I would only eat meat when out or at someone else’s house, so jumping from being a carnivore to a “vegetarian”* doesn’t seem like a huge leap or sacrifice to me.
*I’ll explain why I have placed the word vegetarian in quotes later.
Animals are not treated kindly when they are bred for their meat.
I have always known this, but I’ve never really known it until this year when I started doing research. I watched the documentary Food, Inc. on Netflix earlier this year and was disgusted by the meat industry (and also part of the farming industry). I cried when the chickens couldn’t walk because their bodies were too big for their legs to hold them. Literally. I don’t want to ruin meat for my carnivore friends and families, but seriously. You should watch this documentary. (It offers a lot of great suggestions for how to eat meat humanely, as well, I promise.)
It’s better for the environment.
It’s been stated that one of the biggest contributors to our current environment crisis has been methane gases emitted from animals bred purely for human consumption. Basically, we’re killing our forests to make more land to grow more grain to feed the animals that we eat. The animals emit methane gas that goes back in to our environment, where there are less trees to provide more oxygen for the planet. There’s a lot more to this and I’ve only scratched the surface, but basically: eating less meat = a better carbon footprint. Me alone not eating meat won’t make a huge impact, but a large amount of people not eating meat will, and I’m happy to join that community and take part in something larger than me. (Read more about how not eating meat can help save the planet.)
These are my own personal reasons, so I can’t speak for why the 16 million other Americans don’t eat meat. I am preparing myself for a lot of backlash from well-intentioned individuals in my life. Just the other day at my office Holiday potluck, I ate only sides. As soon as I sat down, all the ladies around me (who I had just met) immediately said, “DO YOU NOT EAT MEAT?”
“Nice to meet you, and yes, I’m transitioning to not eating meat.”
This led in to a nice discussion on why I was making this choice and diet preferences, so I wasn’t bothered by the way they asked me. But it was weird. Would you so blatantly ask someone with meat on their plate “DO YOU NOT EAT VEGETABLES/FRUIT/SIDES/WHATEVER IS MISSING OFF THEIR PLATE?” No, probably not. And I don’t think they were judging my decision; it was honestly a very pleasant discussion that I was open to. But I am genuinely preparing myself to have this discussion, over and over and over, in defense of my deeply personal choices.
Typically, when an individual hears the word “vegetarian” or “vegan” they roll their eyes and think “oh boy, I’m in for an ear full about how eating meat is bad for the world now.” I don’t want anyone to ever think that is the case (with me, at least. I can’t speak for the rest of the world). I do not care in the slightest if you choose to eat meat, bugs, or plants. Whatever, man. You do you. My husband still eats meat. I still plan to attend Thanksgiving and see a turkey sitting on the table. I have no qualms with this. I also do not plan to lecture my meat eating friends every time I eat with them on why their choices are “bad” because, simply put, I don’t think their choices are bad. They are just different from my own. I have eaten meat for 26 years of my life, why would I judge them for eating meat? I fully believe that we can live peacefully on this world together, meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike.
So, do not stop preparing your meals like normal when I come over. Don’t stop ordering a steak when we go out to eat together. And if we share a pizza together? I will happily pick the pepperonis off (and you can enjoy the extra abundance of meat!).
All that I ask of you, dear family and friends, is to inform me of what you cooked your food with when I come over, so I can choose to partake or abstain. I ask that you respect my choices. What my new goal means for me is this: I will not be eating meat or animal byproducts (things that used animals to make). I will also not be eating meat broths or stocks, as animals are harmed in the making of those products. I will be making an effort to not eat gelatin or lard, but understand I may slip up from time to time with these sneakier items while still learning. (Side note : I found out last night that Junior Mints – after eating them at the movies – have gelatin in them. My favorite candy harms animals! So sad.) I will still eat cheese (still researching the rennet thing), milk, eggs, and other dairy products. I will also be eating fish* still (for the time being, anyway). If I come over and you’ve prepared a delicious soup? Just let me know if it used chicken stock. I’m happy to munch on rolls or salad or whatever. And if you know I’m coming over and don’t want to cook a “vegetarian” side for me? That’s perfectly fine. I’m asking you to let me know ahead of time so that I can either eat before I come, or bring a food item to share that I may eat so I can still enjoy your lovely company. I’m asking for you to be mindful and respectful of my decision. I am not asking you to change the way you eat.
*Now, before I get the whole internet’s panties in a bunch over what I just stated about eating fish, please note that I have not once called myself a vegetarian in this post. If I have to put a label on my food choices, I will call myself a pescetarian, because I will still be eating fish. My reasons for this are mostly due to my refusal to give up sushi (yet), but also because I’m still learning the ins and outs of getting my required protein from plants. I’m being very mindful of my fish consumption, however, and am learning about the world of fishing. Call me a hypocrite all you want, internet, but I’m happy with this choice and it is my personal decision. I don’t like the idea of labeling my eating habits, but am fully aware that it helps people understand what I’m doing and why, so I will use pescetarian for now.
I’m still learning. I’m still growing. I hope that my close friends and family will respect this decision. I am open to questions, but I am not open to judgement. Feel free to ask me anything, as long as it is asked in a open-minded manner.
Thank you for your love and patience with me as I navigate this choice in my life. Love you all.
Happy OM’ing and namaste. ❤
Are you a vegetarian? What was the hardest part about choosing this lifestyle? Any pointers for a newbie?