It may seem silly that a change to an entire lifestyle would start with a soy based patty that’s been around and available for years, but that’s what changed my perspective. Until less than a year ago I was an avid meat eater. I would request steak as my special birthday dinner, cook chicken for every single meal, and don’t even get me started on cold cut sandwiches!
Everything changed when I arrived home from college and moved back in with my mother and younger sister. My sister had recently made the switch to vegetarian. No meat. None. I supported her wholeheartedly and was so proud! Good for her, but no thanks. Why would I, as a terrible cook to begin with, ever join her in this endeavor and make planning and cooking meals so much more difficult?
But all that changed when BBQ season rolled around…
For months my mom and I had been basically eating vegetarian at home because it was just easier to prepare meals that all of us could enjoy. I’d discovered that salads didn’t only have to consist of lettuce and dressing, that quinoa was fucking delicious and could be put on anything, and how many alternatives for protein there were. I mean, previously, I had never enjoyed cooking so I didn’t always manage to work meat into my dinner, I had grown up hating eggs and nuts, so getting protein into my diet was always a struggle.
One of my days off, I was rummaging through the refrigerator and freezer, looking for any simple option for lunch. There I happened upon a package of frozen vegetarian burger patties. They were spicy quinoa and black bean or something like that. I figured hey! I like quinoa now. May as well try them out. They looked healthy enough.
Ten minutes later I took my first bite of a veggie burger. Looked at it, took another bite. What the hell? This is fucking delicious! And way better for you than nasty, fatty ground beef. Why didn’t we always just have veggie burgers?? (To this day I am still a sucker for a veggie burger. Every new restaurant I try, first thing is check to see if there’s a veggie burger option.)
For the next couple months I rarely included meat in my diet. There wasn’t much in our house at that point anyways. And the surprising part was, I didn’t miss it at all. My meals were delicious and healthy and I learned so much about diet and health. Most days I went completely without meat at all.
Finally in the fall of this past year I took the leap and just announced it officially; no more meat for me. I sometimes gave in and would enjoy some fish or shrimp so officially I would be classified as a pescetarian. I had never based this change to my lifestyle out of disgust for the meat industry and unfortunately not more moral reasons (sorry to my cow buddies!).
The funny thing though is that once you get involved in this type of lifestyle people ask questions, they’re interested. It opened up all kinds of discussions with meat eaters, fellow vegetarians, complete strangers, and funniest of all, my extended family. My grandma especially found it fascinating and strange.
Enter one of my oldest and best friends from high school. A former vegetarian, gone meat eater, gone full on vegan. A very informed and intelligent friend on the goings on in the food industry and supportive of the boycotting of such horrible occurrences. She opened the door to a cruelty free way of living.
As I sit here typing, my dog lays at my feet, my cats are downstairs, the bunny that my mom has running around at her work just down the street, and just past there the cows that graze at the dairy farm, and farther down the road is a pony farm, where fat Shetlands wander. What sets any of them apart from one another? Who chose priority over who lives or dies or suffers or is loved for our benefit?
And that’s where my story starts.