Since Mark and I married 11 years ago, we haven’t been huge meat eaters. I’ve served the staple vegetarian meals of spaghetti w/jar sauce and bean burritos for a very long time. About three years ago we saw the movie “Fast Food Nation” (never read the book though) and our attitudes were forever changed as far as beef was concerned. We immediately decided to give up burgers, steaks, and the like. Since Mark has always been anti-pork and doesn’t like fish that much, it left us with just chicken. As time passed we ate less and less chicken. It would be on the menu about twice a week and I’d always nonchalantly say “We don’t eat that much meat, I wish I could just be a vegetarian.” But I grew up, like a lot of people, in a culture where every meal revolved around the meat so it never seemed like a realistic goal.
Then in February of 2008 I was at a birthday party at my neighbor’s house and sat down with a plate of meatballs. Mark arrived late to the party with Callee (b/c she’d been napping) and as he entered I said “Hey, try the meatballs. They’re really good.” He looked at me in utter disbelief. I said “WHAT?” Then instantly answered my own question. Shit! I’d forgotten that I didn’t eat beef. It had been almost a year and I’d had a complete brain fart and eaten red meat! I felt so guilty and a little sick because of it. It was a few weeks later that my click occurred and I became a vegetarian.
I was reading “Divine Guidance: How to Have a Dialogue with God and Your Guardian Angels” by Doreen Virtue, Ph.D. and I got to the part where she described how she came to be a vegetarian. She is an intuitive and one day asked for guidance on how to have a clearer “vision.” The guidance she received was that she should remove meat from her diet. The moment I read that I KNEW it was what I had to do also. I didn’t know why, it just made sense at the time. I had been casually, even jokingly, saying it for months and in that moment I decided to do it. That night I prepared our last chicken dinner and I haven’t looked back since. It was February of 08 but I don’t remember the day.
In the beginning people would ask me why I was a vegetarian. I didn’t really know. My standard answer was “all the reasons I guess…health, animals, the environment.” I have since learned more and have some details to add to my whys. I won’t get into them here, but a couple of documentaries (Food Inc. and The Corporation) were very eye-opening in showing the treatment of animals by big companies as well as some of the tricks of the trade that are not only harmful and painful to the animals but to us when we consume them. I also read the book Skinny Bitch, which I highly recommend (if you can handle some pretty R-rated language) for learning more about what is in our food and what the animals have to go through before becoming our food.
Being vegetarian is a choice I’ve made for myself only. My family has the option to eat what they want. Bella is a self-made vegetarian. We learned that the hard way when we once tried to force her to try chicken. Callee eats chicken nuggets and turkey sandwiches whenever she has the opportunity and Mark keeps his chicken intake down to 2 times a month or less.
I don’t believe everyone should be vegetarians. I think our bodies are all different and thus we need different diets to sustain ourselves. I know for me it works and I have never felt healthier in my entire life than I have since I gave up meat. Other people have different reactions though when they try to go veg. I do think it is important to be informed and ask questions about whether or not companies are humanely treating the animals and the employees and also look for products that don’t contain hormones and antibiotics. But other than that, I have no recommendations for what other people should or shouldn’t eat. Do what feels right for your body. The body will let you know and it’s up to you to listen and act!