Because I always need yoga...and I sometimes need chips.

11/09/2017

Why Vegetarian?

Why, I'm so glad you asked!


If you are, or ever have been, a vegetarian, the #1 question you will undoubtedly get asked is "Why did you become a vegetarian?" (The second most common question being, "HOW DO YOU GET ENOUGH PROTEIN?!?!?!?!?!?!") The most surprising thing I discovered about people asking me why I became a vegetarian is that it's a deeply personal question. If someone I'm close with asks me, it's easier to answer. If someone I don't know well asks me, I immediately go into panic mode, my heart starts racing, my palms start sweating, my voice raises an octave higher, and I enthusiastically and loudly start talking about just HOW DARN GOOD IT MAKES ME FEEL! (Not a lie, but certainly not the main truth).

Why do I go on the defensive? Well, while it has certainly lessened over time, there is a sort of stigma that comes with being a vegetarian. You know, one of those vegetarians. And on the flip side, who am I to assume that the person asking me will assume things about me when I tell them the reason I don't eat meat is because I don't want to harm animals? And if I'm assuming that they are assuming, what do I really think their assumptions are (welcome to my brain, would you like to try it on for a while?)? I think my fear is that they will assume that I am in turn judging those who eat meat, which honestly truly couldn't be further from the truth. I ate meat for roughly 28 years of my life for God's sakes, who in the heck am I to judge?! So without further adieu, here are the ins and outs of my plant-based diet - my FAQs if you will - laid out unabashedly for all the world (or maybe just my mom?) to see!


Why did you become a vegetarian?
I've had several vegetarian moments throughout my life, for different reasons. When I was about 6 I became a vegetarian for a week because I had a weird meat experience that freaked me out. After my grandma served some of her awesome ham for Easter, I got over it pretty quickly. When I was in 5th grade, I became a vegetarian for a week again, because Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a vegetarian, and I felt like it connected us on a whole new level. But my heart wasn't in it since he never returned any of my letters (still not bitter), so that fizzled. When I was in college in Miami, I became a vegetarian for about six months as a way to be healthier (read: skinnier. Let's just call it what it was). I lost some college weight, and my skin became glowy and flawless. I went home for the summer, attended a crawfish boil, and lost all control (Texans, you feel me on this). When I was 23 I had another 6 month stint with vegetarianism as a means to be healthier skinnier. I learned quickly though that while chips are vegetarian, eating them for multiple meals per day isn't necessarily the healthiest (though y'all know my love for chips, SO). In the spring of 2014, I started regularly practicing yoga. I was eating more plant based-foods because I simply craved them more, and I was reading up on yoga and its surrounding principles. I learned more about the practice of ahimsa (nonviolence) and started to take a hard look at what I was putting into my body. And I know this may sound a tad insane, but my dog Newton has SUCH a personality (read: pain in the ass) that my relationship with him started to really make me evaluate animals and their feelings.

At first I decided to go pescatarian and ease into vegetarianism. After about a week, I decided I would just go for broke and become a full vegetarian (I had recently developed an adult shellfish allergy anyway, so it wasn't too rough of a transition). The difference this time was that I was doing it for moral reasons (and not to lose 5 pounds or make a teen heartthrob fall in love with me). Through eating an intuitive plant-based diet,  I did naturally end up feeling incredible, naturally shed (and kept off) some extra weight, and learned more about the other benefits of vegetarianism. Like, apparently it's really good for the environment! Because cows fart a lot, and the gas from their farts is worse than the emissions of like 2,000,000 cars (I totally made that number up, but I know it's something epic). So raising cows for hamburgers creates more farts and more farts creates more bad air. And listen, when people ask me if I became I vegetarian for environmental reasons, I emphatically say no, and I mean, I recycle and all, but I certainly could afford to be more environmentally-conscious for sure. It's just a really really awesome added bonus.


But seriously, how do you get enough protein?
Tofu! Broccoli! Quinoa! Spinach! Beans! Nuts! Seitan! Protein Powder! Tempeh! I could go on!

Do you eat fish?
No, vegetarians don't eat fish, pescatarians do. But good question, there are so many different diets and food preferences out there, it can get very confusing!

Can you eat fish? (different question)
I can! I just choose not to. :)

Do you ever crave meat?
Rarely. Like, maybe once a year I'll crave chicken or something? But I am a firm believer that if you crave something, it means your body is needing more of something. For example, if I have a really intense workout and I haven't had enough sugar that day, I start craving apple juice. I'm not particularly fond of apple juice, and I don't really drink it ever, but I'll start to really REALLY crave it. And then I'm like, huh. This is indicative of something. SO. When I do have a rare meat craving, I associate it with my body needing more of something. Okay, yes, PROBABLY PROTEIN, but again, I get so much protein as it is, I really don't have meat cravings much!

Do you ever sneak a bite of meat?
Nope. Unless I get served it accidentally and don't realize it. And believe me, I instantly can detect if there's meat or chicken broth, etc. in something. Vegetarianism gives you super spide-y senses.


Are you vegan or vegetarian?
I am vegan at home, and vegetarian when I eat out. This is what I have found that works best for me. I tried to be full vegan about a year and a half ago. After a month, I realized it was too stressful for me when eating out. Eating out with friends and family is something I truly cherish. I found I was compromising my experiences because I would spend the whole evening fretting over whether or not there was butter in my pasta, and oh, did you remember to leave off the cheese?! And speaking of cheese, I also adore it, so I like to enjoy it every now and then. Though at home, I generally stick to the cheese alternatives, which can really be delightful!

Is your husband a vegetarian?
Oh, heck no! And we make it work! My food choices are just that - MY food choices. I respect other people's food choices, just as I hope they respect mine. And I even cook meat for my husband from time to time (though tbh it's probably not very good since I don't taste as I go. But he's former military and will basically eat anything, even my under/over-cooked chicken *shrug*). "But Kim, isn't that contradictory that you'll cook meat but won't eat it?" Maybe. But I love food, I love cooking, and I love cooking meals for my husband and me. If he wants chicken, so be it. He also will partake in my veg meals pretty regularly, and that's a lot of fun as well! I realize I don't fit a particular vegetarian mold, but my main theme here is, you do you, baby!

If you have kids, will you raise them as vegetarians?
Probably not. I of course would want to raise my future spawns as healthfully as possible, with a diet full of veggies (though word on the street is, kids hate those), but I don't want to limit what they can eat (and I'm not talking, "Sure, have all the cake you want!" - I'm talking about eliminating entire food groups). I've dealt with having a bad relationship with food in the past, and I wouldn't want to impose restrictions at a young age. When my unborn future children are old enough to mindfully make that choice for themselves, by all means! But again, for those who raise their children as vegetarians, I say go you! No judgments here, especially on child-rearing, as I literally know nothing about it yet, except that babies are squishy and cute and make noises.


Is it hard being a vegan/vegetarian?
Nope! Especially now that I've been doing this for 3 1/2 years. I also think that because I love to cook, and cook creative plant-based recipes, that makes it really easy. I think if I didn't enjoy cooking, it would be more difficult. Also, living in a big city like Houston makes eating out as a vegetarian a breeze!

Do you think you'll ever eat meat again one day?
Anything is possible. I know though that right now I feel healthiest in my body and soul eating a plant based diet. I feel energized, light, and compassionate. It's become a very large part of who I am, and I know that at least for right now, it's really working for me. And if yoga teaches us anything, it's that the present is what matters. :)

So there it is, my vegetarianism in a nutshell! At the end of the day, I believe we should all do what is best for ourselves. Whether it's vegetarian, pescatarian, eating plant-based until dinner, eating locally sourced produce and meats, you name it - You do what's best for you to support your most amazing life. If my vegetarian diet was leaving me feeling awful, it probably would not have been sustainable. But since it left me feeling the best I've ever felt, I embrace it fully!

xo and namaste! - Kim
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