• Diana McLaren

Giving up vegetarianism...

I had the pleasure of being a vegetarian for eleven years. I made the decision when I was 16, and while I will be the first to admit I wasn’t always a ‘perfect vegetarian’ I identified as such. Then shortly before my 27th Birthday as I was celebrating eleven years of vegetarianism I found out that it may be making me sick.

It turned out my mum had sent away for a DNA health test (which I mocked her endlessly about) and it came back saying she had G6PD deficiency. This essentially means that fava beans (soy, tofu, lentils etc.) are toxic to the body. Also known as, vegetarianism bad for this particular body.

My first thought was, well I’ve been a vegetarian for just over a decade, there’s no way I have it as well. How wrong was I? Very wrong. As soon as I cut the fava bean out of my diet a rash I’d had on my chest and arms for as long as I could remember disappeared almost in entirety. I found myself no longer with any back pain (which turns out was actually kidney pain all these years) and my stomach just felt better. It’s impolite to talk about bowel movements I hear, but let's just say they got better as well. And I all of a sudden had a lot more energy.

And so now I was faced with a dilemma. I had identified as a vegetarian for over a decade and had good reasons for being one. But it was affecting my ability to live. Maybe it was time to eat meat again.

I’m lucky enough to have some tools for this and so I went to the beginning and tried to sort out what was going on.

One of the reasons I had become a vegetarian was my health. That one was easy, turns out for me it wasn’t healthy. Next environmental reasons, I know that if I eat sustainable meats from local areas then I can still do my bit for the environment. And thirdly, animals are just so bloody cute, also known as moral reasons for not eating meat.

And here was the tricky one but I was lucky enough to have an argument with a vegan that changed my mind. See said person was very angry to find out that I was considering eating meat again. I was offended at the time that someone who was a friend was calling me some pretty damn nasty names. And so even though I agreed with them my protective instincts had me fighting the opposition. And here’s what happened:

They told me that if I really cared about animals then I would not eat animals. That if I believed they were intelligent and valuable I would not debase them as such. After all, animals only eat each other because they don’t know any better.

And suddenly I had a thought: believing you are so above animals that you won’t eat them as a part of the natural food chain is pretty damn judgey of animals. If you really respect animals then why are you claiming intellectual elitism over them?

And so suddenly I had a new thought. I am a part of the food chain just like the other animals. As long as I don’t overtax the food chain and do my best to eat meat that is sustainable and free range, where the animals are treated well, I can live with this decision.

Now obviously I have simply found a new story that justifies the choices I will make as I returned to eating meat. I know that. But that’s what we as humans do. We make meaning where there is none because we all want to feel good about our choices.

I’ve had several people ask me if I’m ashamed to be a hypocrite now that I’ve returned to eating meat and the answer is no. When I was a vegetarian I never told anyone else that they should be one. It was a choice that worked for me. And now that it isn’t a choice that works for me I am going to make a different one. That’s called change, not being a hypocrite.

I am proud. When I realized that I needed to make a change for my health I took the time to renegotiate with the parts of myself and get my whole head to a new place where I could make the choices I wanted and needed to make without feeling bad about it constantly.

I still would support anyone who is a vegetarian or vegan because it’s there body, their life and their choice. Who am I to say what they should do.

So why am I writing this article if I’m not trying to justify my choices because I am in fact quite secure in them? Simple, I just read scrolled past half a dozen stories and articles telling me what I should and should not be eating. It’s insane.

There is no right and wrong. Just what you’re comfortable with and what your body feels good with. If I had taken some more time to experiment sooner and not gotten locked into what I thought was right I wouldn’t have spent so many years in pain and unwell.

So no matter what you’ve been told or what you think experiment with your body and find what’s right for you. Or don’t because that I also your choice not mine. It’s your body, it’s your life, and I highly suggest taking the focus of what is right and wrong because as you saw above you can justify anything if you want to. Just be aware of what meaning you are making.

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