On Why Changing the Way You Eat (and Live) is OKAY

Those who know me personally, know that I tend to obsess a bit about food, health, and well, pretty much everything. I am a hyper-obsessive person. Letting go and relaxing are just not my forte. This obsessive nature has led to 12, count ’em TWELVE years of vegetarian(sometimes vegan)ism. There was one year in there where I ate meat in moderation, mostly because I didn’t know how to be a vegetarian at the time, and lost way too much weight, but other than that I have been strict about my diet ideals (much to my boyfriend’s chagrin).

It all started when I was fifteen. I read a book called “Diet for a New America”, which went into horrendous detail about common factory farming practices. My fifteen-year-old self was horrified to live in a world where such things could actually happen, and she vowed to give up meat immediately…forever.

Fast-forward thirteen years (there was the one meat eating year in there, remember?) and you’ll find a girl far too obsessed with food. I shudder at the thought of eating a non-organic apple. I grow all of my own lettuce, because I don’t trust anyone else to grow it. I spend a huge portion of my life in the kitchen, making all of the things I crave (pizza, bread, cheese, etc) from scratch. Gluten Free. Organic. Antibiotic and Hormone Free. Healthy. I’ve been doing this for quite some time, and it’s finally starting to hit me. I don’t really enjoy any of it.

My goals in life are not to eat healthy, have a slim waistline, and to outlive everyone else. My goals in life are to travel, try new and exciting foods and things, and to write many, many books. Yet food consumes my thoughts more than anything else…and it’s going to stop, dammit.

This journey will not be easy. I’ve always identified as the vegetarian, the healthy one, and the girl who climbs up a mountain like a deer. I’ve taken satisfaction in over-hearing people talking about me and saying that I eat “really, really healthy”. My food choices have become a part of who I am.

This brings me to the whole point of this post. I’m considering eating a chicken. Not just any chicken, mind you. I require that this chicken will be organic, as well as locally and humanely raised. I can maintain my ideals and expand my diet at the same time.

As you might have guessed, this is a decision that I’ve been weighing out for several weeks. I feel like it’s the right choice, yet it’s causing me a great deal of anxiety. Then today, I realized a big part of why I’m so tentative to take this step. It’s not because I don’t believe in eating humanely raised meat, and it’s not because I think it’s unhealthy. I’m anxious because I don’t want people to know about it. I don’t want to lose my vegetarian identity. Saying that I occasionally eat humanely raised local meat just doesn’t have the same ring to it, and to me, sounds like a cop-out.

This way of thinking is silly, and it’s making me unhappy. My boyfriend and I are going to Ireland in the fall. It has been my lifelong dream to travel, and I will not go into this adventure worrying about what I’ll be able to eat when I’m there. I will eat everything, dammit, and I will like it. I will drink some gluten-filled beer, and I will order whatever looks best on the menu. This post will serve to hold me accountable. I no longer need to identify as a vegetarian. I won’t be eating at Burger King, and I will do my absolute best to not support factory farming, but I don’t need a label to let people know what I’m doing.Β I’llΒ know what I’m doing, and that’s all that really matter.

Signed,

-Sara, occasional eater of humane chicken and gluten.

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36 thoughts on “On Why Changing the Way You Eat (and Live) is OKAY

  1. I think the idea is to notice what our body wants or feels like eating (and when, too), but we’ve been trained away from trusting that and have gone into our heads, instead. I’m vegetarian also, for the same reasons you are, but occasionally, if I feel like it, I eat chicken or fish (I thank them, too).

    1. I completely agree! I’m not looking forward to all of the shock and sarcastic comments from my friends and family, despite me doing what’s right for me, but oooh well :).

  2. Well, Homo Sapiens has evolved as omnivorous and a top predator, after all, although personally I wouldn’t eat chicken because I’m very fond of hens, especially Rhode Island Reds. I like the comical way they stalk about constantly doing double-takes. And unless we’re to be out-and-out vegans, which is very, very diet limiting, there’s always going to be a bit of a compromise somewhere along the line. After all, to consume diary products you have to condone excess male calves being killed, really, otherwise it’s hypocrisy. I think you draw the right distinction in (at least hoping) that meat you will eat is humanely reared and slaughtered. And it’s better for the planet, sustainably speaking, if we eat little or no meat. Personally speaking again, I do eat fish – but nothing higher. But that’s just me.

    1. All good points. The dairy I get is local and as humane as possible, but like you said, there is no entirely humane way to go about it. We all just have to do the best that we can πŸ™‚

  3. If more people would learn to listen to their bodies…*sigh*
    More power to you, I haven’t been able to talk either myself or my boyfriend into being vegetarian yet even though it would be better at least economically

      1. Most likely. Get him to do a cost analysis. Given the price of meat, especially beef and chicken, it’s probably cheaper to be vegetarian. It’s a happy day when I can get out of the grocery store on grocery day, spending less than usual.

  4. Nice post! I’m a nutritionist and while we advocate balance and variety (veg, meat, grains, etc.) in diet, we prioritize and value a client’s preferences

  5. Good for you! It’s hard to step away from an identity you’ve created, but while you might get some comments and looks, people always get distracted and move on. You’ll develop a new identity in their eyes. πŸ™‚

  6. I love this. I feel this way about some eating choices I met a couple years ago. People grow out of hair, clothing, hell even religious choices… we shouldn’t be chained to our eating choices. Good luck and enjoy your trip to Ireland!

  7. Listen to what your body needs from you and then you can choose wisely in terms of your diet. I know that it has been a habit for your style of eating but slowy you can manipulate it around to benefit you and your body as well. Just remember that moderation is the key.

  8. Well if you’re going in to try meat then chicken is the way to go… and meat is good for our body in moderation… of course me and you are kind of the opposites… I’ve lived my whole life off of meat and bread basically… and since meeting my husband I’ve been trying all those healthy foods like vegetables… and actually drinking water… it’s good to know when you travel places you can find something to eat because as an extremely picky eater it’s one of my main worries… but since I’ve begun to branch out traveling is more interesting…

    1. Chicken is probably all I’ll do, since I just don’t think I can bring myself to eat red meat again. You’ve gone through a similar process to my bf, haha. He used to be all about soda and red meat before I got to him πŸ˜‰

  9. This post made me smile – am a vegetarian turned pescetarian – obsessed with organic, naturally grown food, non-farmed non-shoved full of antibiotics fish, growing as much of my own vegetables as this UK weather allows. Tried eating meat – still remember the taste and smell from my childhood. Found it very difficult to swallow! So am a happy pescetarian and that’s probably where I’ll stay. Do what you feel, what your body likes – if your body is happy then you’ll be happy πŸ™‚

  10. I can relate.
    Everyone who knows me for longer than a few hours labels me ‘The healthy-eating girl’. It’s annoying, but I can feel how it’ s grown into an identity. At the same time, while I make ALL our food from scratch, only shop at farmer’s markets, and buy local eggs, it is definitely not my hobby, just something that I feel like I HAVE to do. It can be very overwhelming and tiring – not to mention feeling misunderstood when people think I actually enjoy spending countless hours in the kitchen – but I do enjoy the health benefits and feeling like I’m doing the bet I can to help the planet. Sure rules out most traveling for me though…

    1. I think its own the overwhelming and tiring part that has finally gotten to me. I spend a large amount of time during the day making oat milk, gluten free bread, and so many other things, that by the time dinner comes around I really don’t enjoy making it (I used to love cooking). I’m hoping to find a better balance.

  11. I did almost the same thing as you when I was a teenager. Like you though I has no idea what I was doing and I ended up very ill with anaemia.
    I think the whole “organic, as well as locally and humanely raised” is important because as you said you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your ideals in the process.

  12. Good luck to you! It is definitely a difficult thing when you realize that an established part of your identity no longer fits the way it used to. ^-^ I’m always self-conscious about things, so thinking about what other people will think about me changing things always fills me with foreboding. People definitely prefer for you to stay in the same boxes they recognize you in, cause it’s easier for them.

    I remember when, at 18, I decided that going to college like other people wasn’t a part of my plan. THAT was a fun one, haha. πŸ˜„

    1. Thank you! That’s very true about people preferring that others remain in the same nice, neat box. While I finished my degree eventually (at 28), I remember being SO stressed out about all of the pressure I received over not finishing it when I was younger.

  13. Thank you -I have (re) started jogging, and gotten rather more criticism than I had expected. Good to see that change is ok; at least with some folks.
    Shira HoloceneHumanEra Dest,
    28 Aug. 12015 HE

      1. Thank you, Sara -my jogging is really more like the slowest trot on earth! I am following the Jeff Galloway walk-run program, and amazed to find that my bum knee (tore ACL in 1993) has given me NO trouble! I am only up to a very slow 3 miles once a week, but that is with no swelling and no pain! πŸ™‚ So good luck to you as well -start walking again, leave the jogging for week 4! πŸ™‚ Yes, we all can!!
        In Community,
        Shira “HoloceneHuman Era” Destinie
        31.8.12015 HE

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