I spent my summers eating BBQ in the midwest, my vacations from school shoveling carnitas tacos in my mouth in Mexico, and a few nights a week with my favorite filet mignon at my family's steakhouse.
Aside from all that deliciousness, my dad is an incredible cook and foodie with no regard for ethics in the kitchen - only what tastes good. This is how I was raised. Vegetarianism? Literally how?
Once I moved out on my own during college, my diet changed ever so slightly. Handling meat felt intimidating and creepy so I really only cooked the occasional chicken breast at home, leaving the meaty dishes to the professionals when I ate out. Though my carnivorous intake went down to once per day instead of multiple, I still saw no end in sight to my diet choices.
One day early into dating my boyfriend, Nick, he asked me: "do you think humans are supposed to eat meat?"
"Of course they're supposed to eat meat! Look at these K9 teeth - they're made for tearing flesh!"
He shrugged it off then, but continued asking this question from time to time with heavy skepticism about chewing up bodies.
I took months, but it slowly started occurring to me that I really knew nothing about human digestion or how it'd feel without meat. So I educated myself: books, documentaries, doctors and nutritionists. Most answers pointed me to a plant-based diet so I gave it a shot.
About two months in, I found that my body felt much lighter, stabilized in weight, energy, and mood. I also found myself eating way more vegetables than I ever had and discovered the most innovative, fun recipes. Even better, my wallet was loving it. Without meat, my grocery store runs were about 15% less expensive and I became the cheapest date of all time at restaurants.
Even crazier... I started associating chicken sandwiches with the actual animal - full of life, vitality, love and energy. Even crazier... the idea of eating meat actually became the same as eating a dead animal and that became pretty tough for me to grasp. I couldn't believe I'd be giving up my bacon-burgers, but this was where I was headed.
Two years later I continue down this path and my body is happier and healthier than ever. While my mind feels at peace with the ethical and sustainable choice I've made to save resources and animal lives (and do I hope people do the same), I do believe that some bodies run differently. I don't preach my lifestyle on people, but I do share for people to be inspired by and try if they see fit.
Try it all and decide for yourself. I'm not a die-hard anything - if one day down the line, I get sick and crave a bowl of chicken noodle soup, then hey, I just might have a random bowl of chicken noodle soup. I believe the extreme of anything can be more detrimental to the mind than the nutrients are good for the body.
Travel also makes it hard to stick to any dietary lifestyle. I recommend planning in advance as much as you can and ordering sides on sides! And you know what? If there's nothing to accommodate, it's my belief that we can make some rare exceptions. Again, ask yourself if it's really worth the stress and drama on your health. Maybe, maybe not.
The one thing we can't argue with are the ethics. So whatever you decide to eat, I do hope you choose mindfully. If that doesn't sound like something you want to do, let me let you in on a secret: eating and choosing mindfully is the top secret to weight loss.
Did that get you?
With love + conscious mindfulness,
P.S. after all that, Nick's not even a vegetarian- but he only eats chicken now. HAH!