I was a vegetarian for over 20 years. I started on the road as a pre-teen with the brilliant reasoning that some movie star was one. A lover of animals, I slowly gave up all animal protein. I was always and consistently a vegetarian, and often, would drift into veganism, and back to vegetarianism.
Within the last 3 years, a host of health problems arose. I couldn’t digest anything properly, a tumultuous affair began, and my honey moved in and my soy and wheat gluten consumption went up from once a week to twice a day. I worked at a bakery one summer, and had access to all sorts of free to me wheat products. An ill-fated tumble with poison oak left me with an aggressive systemic reaction. I was on Prednisone for almost 6 months. My body was done. My systems were overloaded.
I went to an herbalist to try and recover some balance. We cut out dairy, gluten, and nightshades. Still, no real difference. We cut out legumes. No help. We added herbs, supplements, nutritious broths that took trips to 4 stores to obtain the ingredients for, and hours of simmering. We tried an endless variety of things, and one day, she looked at me, took my hand and said:
“It may be time for us to re-introduce some animal protein into your diet.’
I think that humans eating other animals is wrong. I think me eating animals is unthinkably wrong. But when my fiance came home with the same news, due to a host of different issues, all his own, we bought our first free-range, free of anti-biotics chicken.
We kinda looked at it a while. And because we felt it’s life was sacred, we didn’t want to waste it. We were going to eat it all. We were going to pray over it with fervor and grace. we were going to cry, ok I was.
It sucked. It wasn’t yummy. I didn’t like it, didn’t like the smell or the taste, didn’t like how viscerally I was picking this sweet, innocent bird to pieces. Didn’t like that later it would be a waste product.
There was nothing I liked about it.
It will be a year in June that I am eating animals again. Mostly poultry and a tiny bit of seafood. I can’t stomach pigs or cows nor imagine trying unusual things like venison or buffalo. I feel bad that birds are basically feeling the wrath of my diet, but that’s the truth.
Imagine my dismay when I have discovered, (finally) that my most ideal diet seems to be a grain-free, high protein, heavy on the vegetables and fruit diet. I feel better, have more energy, eat less, function better, and digest better. My cat is on a grain free, high protein diet (I find this amusing).
Spiritually, since I’ve recently become far more attuned with my cat totem, it’s come down, that even if I were physically able to forgo meat, I couldn’t because I need to feed the cat within me. Cats cannot safely be vegetarians.
In my heart, I had hoped that I could in time adopt a meat free diet. I knew that this might mean high protein smoothies that tasted like ground up aspirin, and a pound of kale a day, but I didn’t care. Learning that it is a body and spirit no-no has been really devastating.
I can’t make myself feel better about it. A dead bird is a dead bird, and a dead bird that’s dead to feed me is even worse. I know that “Harm to none” includes myself, and that not eating meat was harming myself, but making myself feel (physically) better at the expense of the lives of others seems like a very flawed plan. It’s also hard for me to grasp that animal protein is necessary for the health of this body.
Everyone says to me, “Even the Dalai Lama eats meat.” This does not make me feel better. *I* am not the Dalai Lama. He makes his choices and I make mine. I do not have to live with his choices, I have to live with mine.
So, I eat the kindest, gentlest, meat that I can. I but from farmers directly when I can, and when I can’t I buy the most natural and humane meat that is available to me. I pray over it, I thank it for it’s life and it’s sacrifice.
I mostly avoid dairy, feeling that my use of animal products have increased in one arena, so I can try and balance it out by reducing it in another.
Do I still push forward pro-animal, pro-vegetarian legislature and ideals? Certainly. Vegetarian Times and Veg News magazines still find their way into my home. I still vote with a vegetarian’s ideals. I still want to be a vegetarian, and I want the animals I do (must?) consume to be treated with kindness and respect, to have their needs met properly *before* they unfortunately and eventually end up on my plate.
This continues to be a difficult path, and a painful choice for me. I understand how people can feel that their bodies have betrayed them. mine has betrayed my ideals and my heart.