Wednesday, March 25, 2015

13 Reasons Why I am No Longer a Vegetarian...

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After many years of being a vegetarian, I can no longer claim to be one. Before you judge me, please read my story.

I grew up as a typical animal-loving kid and as soon as I was a teenager and put two-and-two together, I finally gave up meat and became a vegetarian. I felt righteous! I felt virtuous! I had found my way!

For most of those 12 years, I was happy and content. I would bring my egg salad sandwiches to work for lunch and order the vegetarian option when I went out with friends. No chicken wings for this animal lover. Over time, though, I started to not feel as passionate about being a vegetarian. The more I thought about it, the less that it meant anything to me. I felt like I was just going through the motions. Eventually, I decided to do the very thing no one I was close to would ever imagine possible. I became an ex-vegetarian. It was a process with some ups-and-downs, partially because my self-identity had become so entwined with my vegetarianism, but eventually, I gave it up for good. Today, I have to say, I’ve never felt better: body, mind and spirit.

As a former vegetarian, I feel that I am uniquely qualified to speak to the elephant in the room (actually a whole herd of ‘em) about vegetarianism, having been one for so long. I hope my words here help anyone else who is conflicted about being a vegetarian. Maybe some of you have also struggled with vegetarianism? Here are some reasons why today I am a proud former vegetarian.

1. Being a vegetarian was not convenient. The harm and destruction of eggs
and dairy became an inconvenient truth that was increasingly difficult to ignore. The more I learned, the less mollifying the justifications became, which made excuses very inconvenient.

2. I felt weak when I was a vegetarian. Feeling controlled by the cruel dairy and egg industries did not exactly instill a sense of self-empowerment within me.

3. I felt excluded. All these amazing vegans were changing the world for the better and there I was still chewing on eggs and gulping down milk. I wanted to be on the right side of history, not supporting industries that I find abhorrent, so I became an ex-vegetarian.

4. I felt limited. When my interest in maintaining my habits was greater than my concern about other living beings or the future of the planet, I realized that I was very limited in my capacity to extend compassion to others.

5. I had cravings. I craved being self-reliant, aligned from within and to maintain consistency with my values and practices but eating animal products made it impossible for me to attain those things. The cravings just got worse and worse the more I learned.

6. It didn’t feel natural. Going against my values each time I ate animal products was counter-intuitive and every time I did, it felt unnatural for me because I was buttressing the very industries that compelled me to stop eating meat in the first place.

7. I didn’t want to be different anymore. I didn’t want to be different – in fact, I needed to be different, which meant finding my own compass for my morality instead of just fitting in and not making waves.

8. I wasn’t listening to my body. My brain is part of my body: my brain was telling me that I understood how harmful and violent the animal products industries are and my actions went against this until I finally listened.
 
9. I always felt hungry. I hungered for feeling a deeper connection to the planet and to others; cutting off my innate empathy every time I ate animal products only made my hunger for this more pronounced.

10. I realized that farm animals didn’t have it so bad. Whether one eats “free-range” eggs or cheese from “happy cows,” a tyranny of cruelty, domination and needless violence is intertwined with animal agribusiness no matter what the packaging looks like. Also, the flesh that people eat comes from animals who aren’t brutalized any worse than those we subjugate for their secreted fluids.

11. I didn’t want to be rude. It’s kind of the ultimate rude thing to behave as if my temporary cravings matters more than one’s very life. Actually, rude doesn’t even begin to cover it.

12. It was a spiritual thing. How was I going to function as a spiritual being when I was complicit in harming others? Nonviolence, compassion, justice, empathy: these things are consistent with creating a spiritual life. Violence, cruelty, injustice, self-involvement? Not so much.

13. Ultimately, it was just too hard. It was hard to deny my deepening convictions. It was hard to maintain the status quo when my word and my self-respect were at stake. It was hard to be complicit in a lie. It was hard to quell my feelings. It was hard to deny what I knew. Ultimately, it was just too hard to remain a vegetarian.

Please don’t let anyone pressure you into staying vegetarian. As you can see, so much of my vegetarianism was fueled by unexamined myths, habituated behaviors, a desire to please others and self-sabotage. I look back at that vegetarian I used to be and I know that I intended to do the right thing, I just didn’t know any better. I was so naïve. Don’t be like me; don’t waste 12 long years as a vegetarian when you can evolve and move on to the next logical step toward manifesting your convictions about kindness. If you listen to your innate wisdom, do some research, tune into your compassion and move toward the future, you can leave the self-deception and harmful practices in the past.

Like me, you can go vegan. Today, I am proud to say I’m former vegetarian. Are you a vegetarian like I was? Maybe it's time you go all the way, too.


15 comments:

C.S. MacCath said...

You had me there for a minute! =)

Fantastic post. Just what we've come to expect from you.

Fireweed said...

Not that I was REALLY worried...lol! xo

Anonymous said...

Good job and good luck in your journey ��

mavaddat said...

Great blog post. Very challenging to the claims of humaneness and sustainability of vegetarianism. Also very important practical points about the implausibility of maintaining a vegetarian diet in good conscience. I am sure you will get flak for this from current vegetarians, but your bravery in telling your story about becoming an ex-vegetarian should be commended! Well done Marla.

kwanchaib said...

Thank you all.This is difficult but worth fighting for and surely I will.

proud womon said...

great post, as always marla...

i wasted 33 years, but finally opened my eyes and mind 5 years ago...

tin said...

Marla after reading this post I have to say it: I don't like you anymore.

I love ya!

Anonymous said...

Great article!
I do eat eggs still, but no dairy. I don't feel bad though, as the eggs are from my very, very free range and incredibly loved 'girls'. I would never buy supermarket eggs, even though I use to, thinking free range was the truth!! Gullible and trusting me!! Well, my girls help keep the bugs down in our gardens, and even come inside to eat any inside critters for me, and for them! :-)
They are very loving in return, and therefore I feel OK eating their eggs, and every night when I lock their pen for the night, I thank them and tell them I love them :-) Cheers, Lee xo

Anonymous said...

I echo all sentiments, both in your article and in the comments thereafter!

On one hand, it is great to know that there are others on the planet who are likeminded...on the other hand, I am burdened with the sad truth that we are vastly outnumbered and will likely always be so.

How to cope in a world riddled with such hypocracy and violence, especially that which is tacitly woven into accepted cultural normalcy in every nook and cranny of our daily lives? I feel constantly assailed with the evidence of this lunacy..if I watch TV, go food or clothes shopping...hell, even if I walk up the block...assaulted by the smell of burning flesh in the air, the horror of which is mindlessly incorporated into the frivolity of a barbeque.

I find that with this awakening of truth, there also comes a tremendous sadness.

I am intrigued by the comments made by Lee regarding eggs...I don't eat them myself, but this method of home range love was offered to our son as an ethical undertaking/compromise if he wanted to still eat eggs. (Too much work for a teen, he said, choosing instead to abstain.)

Anyway, thanks again for all the input, everyone!

unethical_vegan said...

Why the obsession with dietary purity? ,IMO someone who is vegetarian and eats a mostly vegan diet is someone that should be lauded and encouraged, not mocked. Likewise, a strict "ethical" vegan who eats heaps of palm-oil, drives, and lives in big house should also be encouraged to make more humane choices.

Veganism is an ideal, not some sparkly gold "V" we neeed to wear on our lapels. Afer all, we are all at best veganish.

Aeolus said...

Vegans are vegetarians but not all vegetarians are vegans.

Anonymous said...

our ancestors didnt claw themselves up through the food chain just to eat plants... Plus, animals like pigs or cows have no purpouse here. They just sit, get fat and get eaten. They are simply food. Vegans are really ignorant people... if you just knew a thing or two about life, you wouldnt be vegan.

Devin W said...

Fail.

Devin W said...

Lee, please read this article on the problems with "happy" and "backyard" eggs:

http://freefromharm.org/farm-animal-welfare/backyard-chickens-expanding-understanding-harm/

Anonymous said...

This is so great. I've just discovered your blog while reading a few articles on the Vegan RD site, and I'm excited about it. 10 years vegan and a few years into feminism, and I have never felt better. Keep doing what you're doing. I love it!