Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why I Became a Vegetarian

I became a vegetarian a year ago. Normally, I avoid mentioning it because of the way that people react. Some get defensive. Some get apologetic. Some are curious. Some worry far too much about offending me. I’m not writing this to convert you. I’m writing this because a lot of people have asked me questions about why I changed, and I wanted to explain how I got here.

I never really liked to eat meat. It always sat like a lump in my stomach and made me uncomfortable and sluggish. I’ve always been a macaroni & cheese, vegetable, and candy (we all like something bad) kind of girl. Even more, I have always hated cooking meat. Handling raw meat made me sick to my stomach and killed my appetite. That was probably a clue.

In the year before my decision, I developed high blood pressure. It was so frustrating because I felt like I ate pretty healthy. I started exercising, eating natural, unprocessed foods (ditched anything with HFCS), took vitamins, and worked on my stress level. Nothing seemed to make a big difference in my numbers.

Last March, I watched a Morgan Spurlock documentary about a man living in a Muslim community in Michigan. One segment showed a lamb being slaughtered. I still feel sick thinking about it. The lamb was hung upside down. It cried out, struggled, and fought off his death. I hadn’t ever thought about how aware an animal was in that situation. At that moment, I was certain that I would never be able to kill an animal. I knew that I would feel like a hypocrite eating an animal that I would never have the guts to kill.

The more I thought about it, I was haunted by that image of the animal writhing. I thought about all of the studies that I’ve read about how our bodies change and are flooded with hormones in stressful situations. Does the same thing happen in animals? I don’t know, and if so, is it healthy for us to be eating all of that? Seeing that video had changed me.

I did a lot of research about nutrition and was able to find plenty of foods that would fulfill my nutrition requirements and keep my body healthy. I still eat eggs and a few milk products, but mostly, I eat vegetables, beans, grains, and tofu. I have discovered a new love and interest in cooking. I’ve been thinking about sharing some of my kitchen/meal triumphs here on the blog.

I admit that sometimes, it can be difficult to eat out or at other people’s houses, but it just requires that I plan a little better and communicate with people.

In all of this, the only thing that I really miss is marshmallows and jello.

This feels like the right thing for me, and my body seems to agree too. It’s a year in and my blood pressure have gone down dramatically (almost off the blood pressure medication), my grocery bills are dramatically lower, I have less of impact on the environment, I am eating better than I have ever eaten before, and I feel great. I haven't had a day where I regretted my decision or thought about going back.

2 comments:

Creative Mom said...

Yay for Veggies! I used to be a Vegetarian, but I do eat meat occasionally now. I have subbed out most of our meat with veggie products (including veggie corn dogs, burgers, and chicken nuggets). The only thing I can't seem to quit is bacon (both Canadian and the regular kind). Veggie bacon just isn't the same. I also eat deer meat (shot by my husband, who also does not like animals to suffer so we can eat.) I say, yay for you. Glad you can stick with it.

Annie Wood said...

Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! :) I totally hear you. I miss weird things (mostly ingredients in candy like marshmallows and Skittles).

Have you tried making your own bean burgers? I make Mark Bittman's recipe (http://www.food.com/recipe/the-simplest-bean-burgers-mark-bittman-335266) and then freeze them. It's a great way to use up extra produce too.