For most of my adult life, I ate a plant-based diet. I avoided meat like the plague because well, let’s face it, factory farming is cruel and atrocious and it destroys our environment. I watched a lot of fucked up documentaries about factory farming and I think the sounds of the animals in those movies traumatized me for a while. I also thought that a plant-based diet would equate to a healthier lifestyle. Win for me, win for the animals and win for the environment. How can someone not be a vegetarian, right? Sounds like a dream.
Well, I stopped living that dream earlier this year. I received a lot of comments and questions about why I quit being vegetarian and it’s difficult to answer those questions without getting into an ethics debate. To be honest, there’s this cult-like mentality when you become a vegetarian or vegan. “It’s a lifestyle, not a diet” is chanted at you and there’s a quadrillion arguments against eating meat. It’s only when you “consult a doctor” that you’re provided a sliver of a chance to escape the heat, but you’ll still be backed into the corner by one or two vegetarians foaming at the mouth to lynch you. Food is some people’s religion.
My answer is really simple though: I changed my mind.
Vegetarianism wasn’t healthier for me.
My cholesterol was high, I couldn’t lose weight and my blood sugar levels were on a constant yo-yo which also affected my mood drastically.
The problem is that a vegetarian diet is filled with carbohydrates. I’m not just talking about pizza or French fries. I’m talking fruit, granola, milk substitutes, sandwich wraps, smoothies, quinoa, energy bars, salad dressings, beans, hummus… and I could go on forever. Do you see that list? Some of those are staples in vegetarian diets. Most protein substitutes are also high in carbohydrates. Almost ninety percent on my diet was carbohydrates; whereas, the other ten percent was nutritious.
I realized that my body doesn’t process carbohydrates as well as other people. For example, the people who can eat an entire pizza every night of the week and remain skinny. Like wtf. If that's you, I'm jealous and I hope you enjoy a slice for me. Their body processes a diet high in carbohydrates differently than mine. That’s all it is. We’re all different and our diets have to be as individualized as our bodies.
With that, I had to listen to my body and make a change in order to meet my own health goals.
I’ll let you in on a secret too. I honestly fed my dog meat-based food the entire time I was a vegetarian. I own silk robes and there was the one time I had a burger after a night of drinking; a secret kept between me and my best friend at the time. Vegetarianism was never a “lifestyle” for me. I loved being able to cut my carbon footprint even if it was just a little bit. I loved that I contributed to saving a few animals during my meat-free time. But I was never all in. There is no diet, including a vegan diet, that will ever be free of cruelty.
When crops are planted in a field, what do you think farmers do to get rid of deer or rabbits or any type of “pest” in their fields? They kill them. Immigrants and farmers in third-world countries work in harsh, back breaking conditions for low wages to put food on the table. That in itself is a type of cruelty – one that results in senseless harm and even death sometimes. (I won’t even get started on how I feel about that.) Realistically, we'll never be able to reduce needless waste of life especially with an agriculturally based society. It is what it is.
So instead of feeling guilty about what I consume, I let go. I listened to my body, I listened to my heart and I changed my diet. Afterwards, I noticed results that I never imagined achieving and I’m proud of myself. I still very much care and try to be conscious of the animals and people who sacrifice for what I choose to eat and how I nourish my body. And that’s the most important part of this. It was my choice. There is no right or wrong way to eat unless you stop listening to your body. If you’re a vegetarian and see healthy results, I am so happy for you and applaud you for making sacrifices in your life to improve the lives of others. If you eat pizza and donuts all the time, I'm mad jeally. If you eat a diet rich in meat and veggies, that’s fine too as long as it makes you healthy and happy.