I have officially been meat free for three years! And dairy free for a more recent portion of that time.
Last year, I wrote about some of the emotional and mental benefits I received from going meat free, and I wanted to write something this year to commemorate my “veg-iversary,” but nothing came to me. And even as I sit down to write this, I don’t feel the passion to discuss and share the many wonderful things vegetarianism has brought me. (STRANGE isn’t it?)
The other day, I was eating at a restaurant in Istanbul, and was asked how I survive without meat. Well it’s been three years now, and somehow I am still alive. As we were sitting there, I listened to my dad try and explain to the server why he doesn’t eat meat. I could have jumped in with the vegetarian rhetoric I have memorized and rehearsed, but I just didn’t feel like explaining myself to this particular young man.
Quite frankly, I just didn’t care if he didn’t get it. It was clear he was a meat eater, he was a hunter actually, and had no intention on giving up meat, just an intention to criticize those who don’t eat meat.
After three years, it just feels normal not to eat meat, or consume animal products, and I think this simple feeling of completeness without something most people feel that they need to have, is a wonderful feeling. I have incorporated vegetarianism into my lifestyle on so many levels, that it just is now a part of my identity. After three years, I don’t feel like preaching about not eating meat, or even explaining why I don’t eat meat; I simply just don’t eat it.
This year, I have traveled to seven countries, have eaten in countless restaurants, and have cooked for new and old friends, vegetarians and non vegetarians alike. People often ask me if I have a hard time being vegetarian on the road, and the simple answer is no. After not eating meat for so long, it’s as if meat isn’t even a choice anymore. I have also had so much experience finding and cooking meals that I can eat that food is no longer a daily struggle.
Throughout these three years, I have gone through many phases of vegetarianism. At first, I wouldn’t call myself vegetarian; I just told people “I’m not eating meat right now.” Then I was an avid vegetarian, and then an avid vegan. I was actually a very hardcore vegan and a little obsessive (for good reason?) about my diet.
Then I left for travels and had a few break downs about food. After realizing this is a little bit ridiculous, because there are people all over the world who don’t even have food, and I am crying about white rice (yes I did cry about eating white rice), I decided to go for more of a middle ground with my diet.
I found that it’s best to be happy, healthy, balanced, yet reasonable. Also, at this point in my life I prioritize travel. And when I am traveling, I can’t always have my way. Sometimes I don’t even have a bed to sleep in, so if I can’t get my green superfoods powder, or almond milk at the local store, I will live.
But then again, I can get the freshest, local, seasonal produce that I surely can’t get in North America. Fresh pressed pomegranate juice anyone? Or maybe some walnuts and figs right from the tree for dessert? My life is about experiencing the best everywhere, and sometimes that means a little food sacrifice.
So what is the point of this post? Basically, I want let all of you new vegetarians or new vegans who are struggling in dealing with difficult family members, or even the difficulties presented by society, that eventually, you will find ease and normalcy in your decision.
Dealing with people and food choices will get better. I have been through the ups and downs of completely changing my diet and lifestyle. I answered all the questions, and told my story countless times. Even in my blog, you can see that I like to influence people as a veggie crusader of sorts, but a time will come where not eating meat is just normal. Being vegetarian is just me, and it’s not something I think about or discuss as often anymore, and I really don’t care what people think, or feel the need to change them.
Living a healthy happy lifestyle with compassion and understanding, despite the fact that I think many people’s choices are highly detrimental to their health, is really the best way to change people around me.
We often forget that silence can be the most powerful and influential tool.
Or perhaps this outlook is the result of all the Buddhist meditation I have been into lately…
What do you think? Have you come to a point where you just feel normal not eating meat? A point where you don’t feel like explaining yourself? A point where eating meat is no longer a novelty?
P.S. I DO love animals, vegan food, and compassionate living, don’t get me wrong 🙂