I Accidentally Became A Vegetarian

in , , by Kristen Woolsey, 6:00 AM
Sometime around 10th grade, I became a vegetarian. My High School self had no knowledge of healthy diets, and my daily routine went something like: skip breakfast, come home from school starved, make a plate of nachos and eat them while watching Fox Family, and then eat the dinner that my mom made. She is an awesome cook, and always made a huge salad for dinner. So I'd fill up on salad and whatever side she made that night. 

Meat has never been the highlight of the meal for me, but I can trace back my disdain for pork to Biology class when we had to dissect a fetal pig. I can still smell the formaldehyde. After seeing that little piglet's ribs, I swore off meat. 

I guess my early-aughts self got distracted by my Motorola Razr or distressed flare jeans, because it didn't last all that long. Somewhere along the way I went back to eating meat. Just chicken at first, but eventually all kinds of meat. 

After discovering I was hypoglycemic last summer, I began doing a lot of research on nutrition. It's all very fascinating and sometimes over my head. For awhile I was just storing these facts and not doing anything with them. Kind of like when you know that you need to eat well and exercise to lose weight, but you never do it. 

Well then I watched What the Health on Netflix one recent morning when I was battling a cold. I had nothing else to do and my Netflix cue was looking pretty sparse. I started watching it, and even though it is very convincing, by the time it was done I hadn't actually decided not to eat meat anymore. Interestingly though, I haven't eaten meat since, and I don't have the desire to. So, I guess I accidentally became a vegetarian!

One thing I really appreciated about this particular documentary was that it didn't try to guilt you into not eating animal products. Usually things like that flood your eyes with visuals of mistreated and neglected animals-something I can't physically stomach. Instead, it focused on the science. What happens when your body digests meat and dairy is simply fascinating! 

I found it completely dumbfounding that processed meat is listed amongst tobacco, plutonium and asbestos as a carcinogen by the World Health Organization. What?! I mean, why isn't this common knowledge? 

(The documentary also warns about eating other animal products like dairy, but I haven't quite gotten to that point yet. I can see a potential future where I do cut out dairy from my diet, but that doesn't seem so doable right now.I'm not saying I couldn't do it, but it is a bit daunting!  )

Like I said, I haven't eaten meat since I watched the movie, and that has honestly been a piece of cake. (part of the reason I'm calling it an accident!) I've done it almost without thinking about it! Every restaurant seems to have some kind of vegetarian option, and we've made some excellent dinners at home. 

Blake has been so pleasant about this too. He didn't watch the documentary with me, but he wasn't resistant at all when I suggested trying out vegetarianism. So far he is pretty sure he couldn't ever be vegan. But, the fact that he is open to it at all is amazing to me. I can't tell you how many vegetarian dinners I've made in the past when he said it would taste better with chicken! 

Can I also talk about how many emotional responses I've gotten when I've mentioned the word vegan in the last few weeks? I had NO idea people felt so passionately about meat. Interestingly, if you say 'plant based' you don't get the same response-even though it means the same thing. I think it's because the word vegan is associated with really preachy/extreme people. But, if you just say you are trying to eat more plants, nobody can get mad. 

And that's what I'm trying to do - eat more plants! If nothing else, I have been ultra conscience about what I've been eating in the last few weeks. We've definitely amped up the veggies at dinner time, and you can't exactly go get fast-food when you don't eat meat. 

So how's it going so far? Well it's only been 2 weeks, so I can't really say that I'm the picture of health yet. But some benefits I've noticed so far:
- We were going to take some friends out for dinner, but we decided to cook instead. They loved it and asked for my falafel recipe. We ended up playing Yahtzee and having much more fun that going out to a restaurant. 
- We have been cooking at home more often, in general. 
- When eating out we've noticed our bill is slightly cheaper. 
- My grocery bill was about $40 cheaper, and that was with adding extra produce. 

Some things I worry about:
- Will this become a problem when our friends invite us over for dinner? 
- What if Blake doesn't want to be a vegetarian in the long run, will that complicate things when meal planning? 
- How will this affect our family vacation in August when we all take turns cooking dinner? 
- Am I okay with seafood? 

The decision about what to do when someone else has prepared the meal for me is weighing the most on me. The idea of refusing someone's hospitality feels rude! Although, one podcast I listened to about plant based diets said that the 80/20 rule is always a good one to follow, which I feel like may be how I approach a situation like that. I don't know yet, I guess I will wait until it comes up to decide! 

Ok, whew, kind of laughing at myself because I'm such an over thinker- yet I accidentally became a vegetarian! Leave a comment below if you are a vegetarian, or are interested in becoming one? Have you watched What the Health? Do you think you could ever be a vegan? What do you think of the word itself? Andddd did anybody else have a Motorola Razr?! (bonus points if you had a phone charm on it.) 
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