I recently became a vegetarian. I’ve tried before, but this time it’s for real. I don’t regret it, I’m proud of my new lifestyle, and I can see myself staying this way for a long time. Actually, that makes me think: I’ve not had many romantic relationships I can say the same about.
I grew up eating meat at every meal without a second thought. As recently as 2010 I scarfed sushi, bacon, succulent meat curries, and even the occasional chicken wing at a dive bar. But my relationship to the faces I imagined on my plate had become uneasy, so at the risk of shaking up my extremely food-centric social life, I decided to go full-veg. For me, that means: I still eat eggs and dairy, just not the flesh of any animal. But I won’t freak out if my veggie burger is grilled next to your normal hamburger, I swear. In fact, I may enjoy the extra flavor.
Eating vegetarian is nothing revolutionary; I realize this. But a lot of people have asked me how I feel about it, what’s it like, and is it difficult? So to that end, and to honor my new diet, I’ve decided at the six-month mark to write a list of the things I love, and do not like, about being (an octo-lavo) vegetarian.
I love to hear my mom (and other motherly types) beseech, somewhat shrilly, this question: But Where Do You Get Your PROTEIN? As if I am pumping iron day and night, or maintaining a job on the railroad, depleting my body’s precious resources.
There are fewer options. Yes, in New York City, this is a pro! When a novel-length menu is narrowed to just a few, delicious-sounding veg options, I know exactly what I want.
Cheese. I love it. Being a vegetarian is an excuse for calling it a main course. (I do know that many cheeses contain rennet, which isn’t exactly vegetarian. I am choosing conveniently to ignore this fact for now).
It adds another layer to things about me that make me “me.” I am a conscientious eater who thinks about where my food comes from and its impact on the world.
I have become, I think, a little bit more knowledgeable about various aspects of nutrition, the industry of food production, and how eating meat affects the environment. I like sharing that knowledge.
Being a vegetarian sort of killed my food blogger career before it started.
In some ways, I can imagine dating being slightly more annoying. I like men. I like men to like me. Most men eat meat, I think.
The only kind of meat I still crave: nauseatingly, that would be… streetmeat. I can’t walk by a gyro, Italian sausage, or cheesesteak cart without swooning.
I do not like turning down food offered in someone’s home because of my dietary restrictions.
Sharing food is therapeutic for me. I always prefer to order a few things when I’m out with a friend or two and share plates; I find it extraordinarily comforting to break bread, as literally as possible, with the people I love. So I miss doing that with my friends who love meat.
But all in all, I’m thrilled with my decision. I have more energy–though I’m not thinner–and I never feel existentially guilty about anything I put in my tummy. (I’m still guilty calorie-wise, sometimes). If you’re considering going full-veg, give it a try. Especially if it will bother your mom.
Laura with her bunny, Beulah!