It began with my Beanie Babies. As a little girl in kindergarten, I had a pig toy and a cow toy that were both incredibly beloved. I grew up in Queens, New York where there was this amazing Greek-style diner (apparently it no longer exists, wahh! *one silent tear slides down my cheek dramatically*) and my mom ordered a ham and broccoli omelette. I knew ham was clearly not a vegetable like the broccoli was, so I asked my mom what animal ham comes from. I was HORRIFIED to know that my adorable pig Beanie Baby was being killed for omlettes!!!!!!!!! I tried not to look at my mom's plate for the rest of the meal, and as soon as I came home I whispered to the pig that I would never, ever eat him - I promised. Later that day, I found out that cows get eaten too because they are what beef is made of. Devastated, I promised my cow I would never eat him, either.
My parents were not vegetarians (they are, for the most part, also vegetarians now!) at the time, so I would find myself being served chicken and turkey for dinner, which I would eat because my little-girl logical self reasoned well, hey - at least they weren't my Beanie Babies! After the few years of elementary school passed by, I realized in middle school/junior high, that I really did not enjoy eating poultry and the texture would make me feel quite sick to my stomach. I just couldn't get over the fact that I was eating a dead animal, and my mind would replay over and over "how would I feel if my dead carcass was being eaten for lunch!?". At this point, I started getting my protein mainly from putting nuts and beans into salads and even pasta dishes, but occasionally still ate poultry. The change felt a bit funny at first, but it wasn't so hard.
My first two years of high school, I went to a boarding school where I was a day student during the academic year and a boarder during the summer session. We would have these super-fancypants meals twice a week called "Community Lunch" where we'd have to sit at an assigned table with a few other students (usually one from each class year, or as my school called them, "forms") and one or two faculty members. They served "Georgia Peach Chicken" pretty frequently at these Community Lunches, and although the peaches were always delicious, the chicken was not necessarily as superb. I refuse to go into details because I get super-sick just thinking about it, but one day, I got a very very unfortunate serving of the chicken… I'll leave it at that (but don't let your imagination run too wild about it - eek! *shudders with terror*).
So, from my second year of high school on, I have not eaten any red meats or poultry. On June 30th, I decided to make the attempt to give up seafood as well (a difficult endeavor, because seafood is totes-my-goats my fave!) but I'm proud to say that it has been going swimmingly well….. okay okay sorry, no more puns in this post, for realz!!!
When it comes to not eating other meats, for me, it's pretty hard to miss something I've never actually known. Some days I definitely do not get enough protein, I must admit, but I've been very diligent about changing this aspect of my diet. Legumes, Greek yogurt, and nuts of all kinds (cashews, pistachios, almonds, and walnuts are my go-tos!) have been included on my plate in an increasing amount as of late, and I've found my body has been thanking me in the forms of healthier hair and quicker nail growth (french manicure, here I come!!).
A common misconception is that all vegetarians want to "aggressively shove" their values onto others. While I do hope that more people will become vegetarians in the world because I really do love animals so much, I'm not about to tell you that you're a bad person for not being a vegetarian! I do have one strict rule, though, that if I'm dating a guy who orders meat, I won't kiss him until he brushes his teeth first (I've learned the hard way that the taste of meat makes me sick to my stomach…. *sigh* ahaha!) so that the remnants of the steak/pork/etc. is no longer present! It's super silly-sounding, but trust me when I say that it makes a world of difference, lol!!
Are you a vegetarian?