For the past month or so, Mr. Lively and I have chosen not to eat meat. Though many would call us “vegetarian,” we have had a hard time actually coming out and saying that word.
At first, it was because we weren’t sure if we were going to stick with the decision for a specific amount of time. It just kind of started one day. Then, we did it again the next day, and so on. Over time, we realized that it wasn’t as difficult as we thought it would be. And for the time being, we want to continue the trend.
For myself, I am choosing meals without meat because all animals, including lobsters, are starting to look like Franklin to me. And Mr. Lively, who started this path first, has no specific reason for his decision. He just feels like it.
Over the past several weeks we have been wary to mention it to many people – especially in the beginning. In fact, we went to dinner at a friend’s house and didn’t mention that we weren’t eating meat until it was time to make our tacos. We simply skipped the meat and put the beans in our tortillas, to which our exasperated host said she wished she had known ahead of time so she could have prepared more veggie options.
So even by trying not to make it a big deal, we ended up making it a big deal.
Meanwhile, we also have friends with other selective diets. Two friends are severely allergic to gluten, one is die-hard Paleo, and another is on a completely plant-based diet. Oh, and my parents? They eat rather low-carb meals, which might be similar to the South Beach plan.
And I know it is not just our circle of friends and family who are getting more selective with their eating choices. The With Intention workshop foodies have had an interesting time accommodating so many different eating choices that only appear to have one thing in common: veggies.
It seems that the more research, information, books, and documentaries that come out, the more varied and convicted people become about their eating choices. On the one hand, this is amazing. I’m happy to live in a time where we can all have access to more education and knowledge about what we put into our bodies and how we affect the food chain at large.
On the other hand, now – perhaps more than ever – it is more difficult to share a selective eating choice with others.
By saying we are eating vegetarian, we have been told:
- That we won’t get enough protein.
- That we really should be eating meat, not dairy, for better skin and nutrition.
- That Mr. Lively better avoid eating soy, or else his estrogen is going to go up.
- That if I eat a vegetarian diet I might get sick from not eating meat.
Rather than get positive support and encouragement for making a choice we feel good about, we face nutritional judgements and unsolicited advice. I know our friends and family mean well, but we really aren’t asking for an opinion about our decision.
Which is why it is tempting not to tell people at all, and end up at the taco bar quietly skipping the ground beef.
What’s more, by telling people that we are eating a vegetarian diet now, I’m also starting to feel like there may be judgement if we ever decide to eat meat again in the future. By saying that we are not eating meat today, it seems like we are promising that we won’t eat meat forever. If we do eat meat in the future, we “failed to stick with it,” or we are wrong for not eating meat in the present.
The personification of these selective diets also seems to divide us from one another.
I’m a vegetarian.
I’m on South Beach.
As Mr. Lively said in the first few weeks, “Today, I feel like eating veggies.”
Can we allow ourselves to make our dietary choices based on our intuition at this point in time, without the hard and impenetrable boundaries? Can we support people with selective and non-selective eating choices?
Can we support our friends and families, regardless of what goes on their plate?
Can the forks live with the knives?