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. I’ll know what I’m doing, and that’s all that really matter.
-Sara, occasional eater of humane chicken and gluten.