Thanksgiving 2008 was the last time I ate ham, bacon, or any kind of pork; or shellfish of any kind- like shrimp, lobster, crab, or scallops. In other words, since the day after Thanksgiving 2008, I became and have remained kosher. That’s been 8 years now.
Since then, I only further slid down the slippery slope; eventually becoming and remaining a vegetarian in December 2011 and a vegan in April 2013.
What makes this particularly interesting is that I am a male. Our American culture teaches and accepts that eating bacon and beef is a particularly masculine thing to do. Most American vegetarians and vegans are females. So therefore, my being a male vegan is especially counter-cultural.
Granted, I feel no less masculine despite what I (don’t) eat.
It was exactly five years ago today I decided to adopt an American alternative lifestyle: I stopped eating meat. Somewhat to my surprise, my wife immediately joined me in my crazy decision. And our 1 year-old son got thrown into it as well.
Now he’s 6 years-old and has no interest in eating meat. I should also point out my wife and I also have a 7 month-old daughter now, who currently is a vegetarian by default.
I have to say this, though: Becoming a vegetarian is not a choice I want you to make- nor do I need you to become a vegetarian either. I want to be very clear about that.
Instead, I beg you to keep eating sausage, bacon, burgers, and fried chicken. In fact, I cordially invite you to stop reading this immediately and eat a big juicy McRib right now. Yes, I endorse that…
Why wouldn’t I? What other families eat has nothing to do with me- just like I could care less which candidate anybody else voted for in the recent election. My emotional state of being wouldn’t change no matter the outcome.
I’m like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive: “I don’t care!”
Proving that being a vegetarian is the better way of life is no agenda of mine. In fact, I envy eat meaters. I seriously do.
If you’re part of the majority of America, meaning that you are not a vegetarian, then you get to eat meat. Whenever you want. As much as you want. You have much more freedom than I do- and you have a certain kind of happiness in your life that I’ll never again enjoy: the scandalous feeling of devouring a cheeseburger.
As for me, I have learned I can’t be trusted with such responsibility.
I have learned that when it comes to eating meat, I have never nor would I ever just simply eat the maximum 4 to 7 ounces serving per day that nutritionists recommend. I always ate least double that; each meal, every meal.
Mentally, I’m not strong enough to overcome the desire to keep eating meat. I was never truly satisfied with meat… there was never enough no matter how much I ate.
The irony is that by restricting myself to no meat at all, I can be in control of my desires and my appetite. Because that way, there’s not room for gray. There’s no possibility of eating too much meat if I can’t have meat at all.
My protein comes from 6 main sources: vegetables, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.
I will openly admit to having very selfish motives to becoming a vegetarian: It’s an easy way to manage my weight, I never have indigestion issues anymore, and it led to me becoming a vegan; which ultimately wiped out my ongoing eczema, sinus issues, and pet allergies.
Those personal issues have nothing to do with the rest of the world. Instead, my reasons are self-centered. So there is no need to try convert anyone. I’m simply selfish in my reasons for being a vegetarian.
Perhaps I would be a better human being if I did care more; if I did spend some efforts in trying to convince people to be healthier by cutting out meat from their diets.
But I’m simply uninspired. I learned early on that most people are still convinced that by becoming a vegetarian, they will not get enough protein in their diet.
Clearly, I’ve proved that theory to be false in my own life. After all, I’ve lived this for 5 solid years. I would know!
Sure, I lost weight when I became a vegetarian. But look at me now. I’m not a skeleton. I look healthy. And I am healthy- my doctor confirmed this.
Even it means I am selfish, I would rather other people keep believing they need to eat meat to be healthy; even though I know it’s not true in my own life. By me trying to convince them against what they’ve been taught their whole lives, it endangers me of reinforcing the stereotype that vegetarians are judgmental and overzealous.
So now at the risk of sounding jaded instead, I invite absolutely no one else in the world to join me by becoming a vegetarian.
(Of course, it’s a whole different story if you approach me about becoming a vegetarian or vegan. In that case, I will be honored to guide you!)
Now, please- go to the McDonald’s drive-thru and order a McRib. It’s not too late. They’re still open. Actually, I hear you can get 2 for $5 right now…