Saying I had an identity crisis makes this all seem a lot more dramatic than it really is. BUT it also feels like the best description of how I felt – but in a less dramatic way.
From the time I was 7 I have been an off and on vegetarian in some capacity. I’ve been Vegan, vegetarian and most recently Pescatarian (I love me some sushi). Like with most things when you tell someone your eating habits there isn’t really a conversation about it; it just is what it is like religion or politics. I think that’s because people usually feel it can end in an argument over a difference of opinion. Recently, and I don’t remember who it was, someone asked me “why don’t you eat meat.” And honestly I couldn’t tell them.
This is where the crisis started.
Why didn’t I eat meat? When I was younger it was easy, “I didn’t want to hurt the animals.” Then as I got older and more aware it still remained that reason but it didn’t seem to hold as much ground. So I did some research, and was admittedly influenced my people online, to explore being vegan. I then lived with 2 vegans for a semester abroad in college and enjoyed the process. When I got home I slowly started to introduce eggs, milk and fish back into my diet. I then quickly removed straight up milk because my body was no longer agreeing with my double shot latte full of cows milk. From there I lived my pescatarian life for 4 years after.
But why? Why was I still eating like this? Admittedly, when I was vegan I felt the best I ever had but I most definitely wasn’t getting the nutrients I needed. Like most people adopting this lifestyle I wasn’t prepared to feed myself outside of the typical beans and rice. Whether I was vegetarian or vegan I was pretty much eating close to the same things everyday without much change. Variety was not my spice of life.
Over the 4 years I’ve been eating like this you can imagine, I met a lot of people. In that I started my job that I now work full time and I changed majors to the degree I ended up graduating with. My eating habits became a part of my identity. There was the first few months of knowing someone where I had to remind them I didn’t eat meat when they questioned why I chose the veggie burger. From there it turned into people saying, “I found this great recipe! You would love it, it’s vegetarian” and so on and so forth.
So now we’re back to the question of why? I thought about it a lot and I basically came down to that I just accepted that that is who I was. I was the friend, the co-worker, the family member that didn’t eat meat. It’s like how girls will hold onto their crazy long hair – they feel it defines them. And what would people think if suddenly you were someone else.
I’m about 2 weeks into the reintroduction of chicken & meats into my life and let me tell you – fake chicken tender ain’t got NOTHIN’ on real chicken tenders. It will take time to slowly inform everyone in my life but I think it’s time for that new chapter! Who knows, maybe I’ll switch my lifestyle around again soon and there will be a blog post “why i started being a vegetarian”
But this is where we are right now. Where are you?