Tuesday, January 12, 2016

#Thisisme: Shitty Vegetarian

At the tender age of 18, I decided to go vegetarian. This enduring choice has two motivations: health and environmental impact. My food choices are not at all influenced by political dedication to animal rights.


Vegetarianism is less of a diet and more a lifestyle and label. It means having a more attentive relationship with food (and ultimately your body). It's also a political label that says: "Yo, I'm aware that my life has an impact on the Earth, and I'm trying to offer a tiny bit of accountability for it."


The health motivations of my vegetarianism are amplified by a particular emotional response I have to the prospects of stroke. As a young person, I witnessed my grandmother and several of her siblings survive debilitating strokes. Fear of losing motor skill and independence is something that sticks with me to this day.

Declaring vegetarianism was one of the most meaningful cultural breaks I made from the rural New Brunswick setting I was raised in. Though there are increasingly more of us, in 2006 I was balked at.

Fast-forward almost ten years, and ~97% of my diet is vegetarian. That missing 3% is why I'm a shitty vegetarian.

Most of my meat cheats in my late teens/early 20's were either really drunk or baked or both. One particular night in Ottawa's Byward Market, I insisted I was "so crunked" and ordered an Angus Burger with bacon at the Rideau Street McDonald's. "Angus Burger drunk" was a thing for a little bit.


My present-day meat cheats are a lot more nuanced. When I quit smoking after my 25th birthday, I replaced the cathartic, self-hating escape I got from smoking with secretly eating meat. At the same time I was quitting smoking, I figured out I was soy intolerant, so the meat cheat got even sweeter. For years, I'd loved fake meat products (especially the chicken) and unknowingly suffered a lot of stomach pain because of it. I also just took the last month of grad school off and ate Subway way more often than any human should.

Basically, I rationalize mini mental health breaks from vegetarianism.

#Thisisme a shitty vegetarian.

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