Learning how to be vegetarian without being a jerk about it
Many times in my life, others have assumed I was a vegetarian. At a work function or a family dinner, someone would attempt to pass me some kind of animal product, only to pull back the offering abruptly and say, "Oh, I forgot. You're vegetarian." But I'm not a vegetarian -- never have been -- and up until this past weekend, I never once considered it.
These are some of the things I have consumed alone in my car in shame.
However, I'm starting to think that in the evolution my of own life and as a person who is conscious of how she treats others, vegetarianism might be the logical next step.
I think militant vegan types must feel as I do about feminism: The facts are out there, the injustice is real. Why aren't people jumping on board with what we're trying to do, which is just making the world right for all beings who inhabit it?
Kale chips rule!
I wish I had some thought-provoking and complex answer as to why I still eat meat, but I don't. I have the same reasoning many people in my position probably do: I like the taste of meat. That, and I see the struggles of my friends and family as they try to socially navigate vegetarianism and veganism every day. I'm talking less about the availability of good food choices (there are plenty of plant-based food choices, especially protein sources, that are accessible and not hard to prepare) and more about the social nature of explaining to every single person who is serving or selling food to you, preparing it for you or sharing it with you why you choose to not eat meat and how it is something that isn't that difficult to do.
But sometimes we love things that are awful for us, so much so that we want to own them: I'm a recovering alcoholic who once pridefully identified myself by my adoration and consumption of shit beer and the extra-long, extra-chemical-filled cigarettes I left in ashtrays across the city as a calling card.
Come on, dude. "Owning" the idea that you eat beef or pork or chicken that was not ethically procured isn't cool; it makes you look like an idiot. It is that kind of mindless entitlement that comes along with a pro-animal diet that I find embarrassing, though I am equally guilty of it. My internal monologue has many times said stuff like, "Whatever! I eat whatever I want because I am an autonomous body who is free to consume as I please!" Which is so distressingly shortsighted for someone who pretends to be intelligent and considers herself an empath.
My shaman (yup, you've got a family doctor, I've got a shaman) said something to me once that has stuck in my brain for a long time: When we eat products made from animals who spent their lives in pain, only to die horrible deaths, how can we not be consuming their energy, too?
I know that for Americans, mindless consumption is our thing; no one who actively eats a DoubleDown is listening to their body. If we did, I think we would be a lot nicer to each other in general -- and not do things like block traffic in order to take our road-raging to the ultimate level of insanity. I'm not saying a poor diet is the sole reason for bad behavior in this world, but it probably accounts for more than we realize.
I remember being on tour and standing in a massive truck stop in the middle of Nowhere, Kansas with hundreds of terrifying food choices, yet not being able to find anything to eat that wasn't remotely processed beyond recognition. I watched my vegan tourmate struggle with horrific vomiting and diarrhea after he attempted to buck up and not be vegan for those two weeks that we were stuck in the cab of a Ford F-150 together. It sucked.