From Carnivore to Herbivore: How and Why?!
Transitioning to a plant based diet may stir all sorts of feelings in those around you (and yourself) if this is something new.
I was born and raised by meat eaters. My family are a mix of Italian, Greek and English heritage in Australia. These cultures automatically symbolise FOOD... of course I was raised a lover of food and spices. My mum handed down ancestors recipes - the perfect lasagna, warming beef stew, spaghetti.. the Aussie BBQ an icon of family get togethers. An occasional outing of fish n chips by the beach or takeaway chicken or burgers were the norm.
The question "what do you want for dinner?" revolved around meat! Steak, mince, chicken, pork, lamb, fish with.....
There was the odd vegetarian meal... Dahl a healthy lentil based Indian dish that tastes great!
But overall it was meat, meat and more meat. The thought of not having meat was unusual to say the least. What could we eat without meat? A salad sandwich? That's lunch... What about dinner? I'm still hungry... I'm craving chorizo... something's missing in this meal... oh that meat looks so tasty and fulfilling....
It never crossed my mind to try anything different and meeting vegetarians was rare!
I had heard of them but I didn't know any!
Years later, after suffering many months of chronic pain in my stomach I knew something had to change in my diet but I didn't know what, so I went to see a naturopath. He told me I was intolerant to dairy and fructose, and that I needed to eliminate those along with wheat and yeast. I was shocked but ready! For four months I followed the paleo based diet to a tee. I felt amazing. I lost 10kg, and the pain mostly eased. Phew, yay!
Then one day life turned upside down. I stopped taking care of myself and fell into depression. My diet was the last thing on my mind. The only thing that kept me going outside of my relationship was yoga. I found peace on the yoga mat as I breathed with the flow of my body. I held onto the goodness of it and let it grow.
I was so inspired by yoga that I wanted to learn more. I read about yoga philosophy and Buddhism. It was this that helped lead me to the light.
Then came social media. I followed and liked my way to a feed filled with inspiration. How to live the life of a yogi, of a Buddhist. One of the philosophies was "do no harm". It haunted me to know how much I lacked in this area by eating meat. By now I only knew one vegetarian and one vegan who was a friend of a friend. I'd already heard my family's opinions on those people.... and how the hell could I be a gluten free, sugar free, vegan??! What in the world would I eat? How would I survive outings? Oh man.
I soon discovered Kris Carr and one of her Crazy Sexy You video series' which introduced me to plant based eating. I tried her vege and bean stew recipe which was heaven!! It was just as hearty and fulfilling as mum's homemade beef stew, only without the harm!
Over time I met a couple more vegetarians and I felt inspired, strengthened and encouraged by them. I still had one big burning question: If I was to sustain a plant based diet, how would I cook for my husband? Would it be okay or would it be pointless to make myself a vegan meal and then cook him meat? I decided I could do it. I'd have to shop at the butcher so that I could buy meat for one.
The backlash I heard from my family as I started to quietly verbalised my support of vegetarians was hard to deal with. I was questioned and ridiculed. Ouch. But I was proud of my responses. "Oh you're not turning into one of them are you?! What are going to eat when we go to someone's house for a BBQ?!" I won't... I'll eat before or bring my own food.. or I'll only eat meat at gatherings... (I cook my own meals in my own home now anyway so who could argue with me?)
It was, and still is, a slow transition. There have been lots of setbacks as the old pattern slowly dies and family sometimes pressure and resist. I have made it okay to create a new routine in my life. To show them that vegan and plant based meals can taste just as good as meat. I connect with like minded people and continue to stand strong in my efforts and beliefs. All the while respecting meat eaters choice.
People take what they consume very seriously. It is a personal choice, a reflection of values. Whether those values are based on family heritage, financial, ethical, political, religious or moral beliefs, we sort of are what we eat. We can choose who we want to be, it's just like that.
What do you stand for? Is it your choice or somebody else's?