‘Coming a Veg’ is a monthly series which highlights vegetarian and vegan “coming of age” stories. Tiffany is an inspiration and her all inclusive attitude shines through with everything she writes n her award winning blog, Como Water. Her recipes and thought provoking writing style can’t be beat and I am honored she would share her story for my blog.
First, I’d like to thank Terri for allowing me to tell my story on how I became a vegetarian! And now, without further delay, here goes nothing …
The year was 1995. The month was October. I was sitting with friends in the cafeteria. I bit into my burger. It spit back. Red, runny, fat-laden liquid. I gagged. Dramatically. (I am a Leo, after all). Sputtered the saliva-laden, red, meaty, doughy, mustardy, ketchupy slurry out of my mouth and into a napkin. The decision was made. I would no longer eat meat. I was 15. My mother didn’t believe me. She made my favorite meal for dinner the next day—BBQ ribs, potato salad, cabbage, and cornbread. I only ate the sides. Her reply, “wow, you’re really serious about this aren’t you?”
Even as a young child, eating meat didn’t sit well with me. I’d pick around the bones, leaving most of the flesh on the hard cartilage. I’d internally gag at the veins. I preferred to eat the sides, rather than the meat. And so, giving up meat in 1995, didn’t really feel like “giving up” anything. It did elicit feedback from the peanut gallery though…
Family members asked, “what are you trying to be white?” Friends would go on and on about how good their fried chicken was. Yet, I just had no desire to eat it. My trajectory to my current eating patterns however, approximately 65% vegan, 35% vegetarian was exactly that—a trajectory.
In 1995, after becoming a vegetarian, limited financial resources and limited knowledge about being a healthy vegetarian, left me eating a lot of carbs. A lot. I was young. I was skinny. And I was driven by preference, rather than consciousness around the linkages between nutrition and health. Over time however, through college, conversations with friends and other family members who had stopped eating meat, far too many deaths of close family members due to diet-related diseases, and my unquenchable thirst for food documentaries, I learned more and more about nutrition. I am still learning. But the more I learn, the more I am motivated to eat healthier—which to me means, eating plants, eating raw, and resisting my biggest vice—sweets.
I truly believe that diet is a work in progress. And there are a lot of impediments to eating the way many of us know we should. I also believe that a veg-centric lifestyle is not for everyone. There are real barriers—financial, cultural, and others—to being vegetarian/vegan. But just as one cannot deny the right for folks to eat in ways that are consistent with their realities, one cannot deny the fact that we, our global society, have moved very far away from ‘Cooking with Mother Nature,’ as one of my favorite food writers Dick Gregory has described.
However we chose to eat, whatever we choose to eat, we should eat mindfully. With our eyes and minds open. With gratitude and with awareness. My own (totally biased, of course!) belief is that if we train ourselves to do that, it will lead us to knowledge and knowledge will lead us to plants and plants will lead us to health. And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about? Living the healthiest, happiest lives we can?
The first Monday of every month I feature a new ‘Coming a Veg’ story and would I love to include yours! If you are feeling shy, your story can be posted under a creative screen name, anonymous or at least pass this request along to any other groups or individuals who may be interested. Find more information at this link or send submissions to my email: Pennsyltucky Veggie.