I’m of the opinion that it’s important to give you, my reader, some kind of history (or genealogy, if you will) of why I’m vegetarian.
I’ve been a vegetarian since I was 13 years old. It started from a pretty typical adolescent headspace, centering around coming into an awareness that eating meat meant actually eating another critter. So, at 13, I decided to become vegetarian, largely out of a desire not to eat animals, but with a vague idea that it was “good for the environment.” I stayed vegetarian through my adolescence, which really meant just not eating anything that has meat in it. You know, potato chips, sometimes a veggie burrito or a quesadilla, everything but the meat at dinner, and lots of fake bacon (yum).
Sometime around my junior year of high school, I became aware of the complexities of the meat industrial system, and how simply cutting out meat didn’t necessarily mean I was saving the animals I hoped to spare with my diet. Turns out that purchasing and consuming dairy and eggs frequently contributes to the problematic relationship humans have with the food they eat — from the mistreatment of animals to the money still going towards the meat industry. I decided at that point that going vegan would do more to resist the eating structures I found problematic. At this point, my diet became a political stance.
As a vegan, sometimes I’d do really well and cook incredible food for myself. I learned to eat a lot of foods that varied from the standard fare I was raised on (rice, chicken, broccoli) and really broadened my dietary horizons. Somewhere in college I found myself with not enough hours in the day, and had a difficult time staying well-nourished. I was tired a lot and found I had issues keeping my blood sugar stable — I would be super irritable and feel faint not long after eating a meal. I decided to supplement my diet with some dairy and eggs and see how that felt. At some point, this became the healthiest way for me to eat and I “came out” as a lapsed vegan.
Post-college, I took it upon myself to heal my relationship with food. College left me in a state where I was eating mostly pre-packaged, frozen, or processed foods. My partner pointed out that I ate a lot of fake meat, but not much else. It was totally true! I started really focusing on what I ate. It took a whole year and a lot of taste adjustment to get to a healthy eating place — moving towards a more organic, whole foods, local diet, and being really conscientious not just of what I eat but where my food comes from.
At this point in my life, I feel really good about what I eat and calling myself a vegetarian. I think I finally enjoy eating food that is good for me, and I’m at a place where I can be conscientious about where that food comes from. I’ve come to the belief that food is such a huge part of our lives and deserves more credit and time that it gets. Plus, I’ve discovered that nectarines are really, really tasty…