Did I ever imagine I would become a tree hugger? Someone who talks about energy and stuff? A person who considers disease your body’s way of communicating discord? Ten years ago, never in a million years.
Did I ever really like eating meat? Meh, I suppose bacon and sausage or casserole with gobs of cheese on top, sure. But put a hamburger in front of me, I almost always felt a bit queasy trying to force down a dried patty, I had to flush it down with lots of water.
I suppose I evolved to plant-based eating more gradually than some. I never really set out to cut out meat all together. I just remembered watching a Netflix documentary on the benefits of juicing, and thought I’d benefit from upping my nutritional intake by flooding my system with good stuff. And eventually the good stuff started tasting better than the meat I was adding into it. So I just flipped, and told myself, “Well, beans might taste just as good as a replacement.” And there you have it.
Along the way I had a couple of nudges, as well. A vegan friend popped in to talk about all the benefits she saw from switching. And I had a really strange dream about what really goes into a hotdog, from beginning to end. And then I read a strange line from a book about an alien abductee. As the aliens were sending her back to Earth (which she didn’t want to do, she said to her alien friend, “Please don’t send me back there. It’s horrible and they eat their animals.” I’m not sure why this stuck with me so much, but that was the same week as the hotdog dream.
To be honest, I feel like the hardest part of my transition was to move through the awkward conversations with people who offer you meatballs and you kindly say, “I’m sorry but I don’t eat meat anymore.” Most people are curious, some are miffed, some don’t comment at all, although I’m sure they do to someone, at some point.
I just reached my one-year mark in August and I can’t say I’ve missed meat much. The biggest struggle has been the vegetable dishes I make. They are so good that I eat a lot more than I need, so portion control is a part of my process. What benefits did I see once I finally switched over? I started to realize that we don’t really question the standard much.
I asked my husband (still a meat eater) the other day, “Would you eat horse meat?”
He replied, “Meh, I don’t know, maybe I’d try it.”
So I asked, “Would you eat cat meat?”
“Oh no,” he said. “That’s disgusting.”
Really? Hmm. Who decided cows are better tasting than cats?
I’ve noticed that I feel lighter when I don’t eat meat. It doesn’t feel like it’s going to take four hours to digest a meal. And I haven’t noticed that it’s been too difficult to work around external occasions where other food is served. If I know beforehand there won’t be much for choices, I’ll pre-eat.
I’ve never been the type of person to push my ideals onto other people, not even those with whom I live — and I don’t for plant-based eating either — although I do encourage my children to eat more fruits and veggies, and they do really like them when I make them readily available. I try to inspire though my recipes. I am often taking pictures of what I make with recipes and posting them on my Instagram account. I’ve actually heard a couple folks say they do feel motivated to eat better by what I post.
Hopefully, you’ve resonated with things I’ve said here, or at the very least, recognize that it’s not as hard as you think it is. And if you don’t feel all in, then just try meatless Mondays and pay attention to what you notice.