I Never Talked About Why We Went Vegetarian

I realized when I posted the “old man rails against fast food chains” post the other day, I neglected to ever explain or even mention the fact that Abbie and I had become vegetarian or, and perhaps more importantly, the reason why. Usually I slip random tidbits like that into whatever it is I’m talking about, but, for some reason, I guess I assumed I’d gone and done that already–oh well.

About 5 or 6 months ago, Abbie and I watched a documentary called What The Health? What the Health? is an unabashedly pro-vegan documentary that aims to shine light on the food industry, animal products and the dangers of their place in our modern diets. It was interesting to watch but I, admittedly, wasn’t immediately taken with all of the ideas and arguments it was putting forth—choosing instead to keep it at arm’s length rather than embrace it fully.

It’s difficult to consume information that is “all this” and “no that,” be it about food, politics, or anything else. Every bit of information is colored grey, and every documentary, every piece of news, every opinion whatsoever, has a bias behind it that drives the reason why that information was even presented to begin with. So when we were done watching the documentary, I had to strip away some of the extreme notions it presented, not because I didn’t believe them, but because I wanted to examine them further, to look into things a little on my own before believing it all right out.

The idea that I took away from What the Health? was that we all could do to eat better. We’ve become a society that shoves preservatives and chemicals down our throats more times over than we do real food, but if we were able to make changes to that, even small, seemingly insignificant changes, how much better would we be?

How much better would we feel?

Would we have to take all of those medications? Would we still have trouble sleeping? Would we have to continue forever and ever dealing with those headaches? Or might we finally feel better about ourselves?

Maybe. Maybe not—but does it hurt to try?

That was my take away from What the Health?. As great as it may or may not be to embrace a full and crunchy, grass and dirt, entirely plant-based diet, for so many people, it may not be realistic. Or, they may not be 100% and wholly sold on the idea of rejecting every animal product we regularly consume, but so what? Start slow. Make small, conscious changes to what you’re eating and take it from there.

If you eat a lot of red meat, eat less red meat. If you don’t eat a ton of red meat, maybe cut it all out. If your diet consists entirely of fast food, maybe it shouldn’t, and maybe you could drink more water? For Abbie and I, the next step was cutting meat out entirely. Neither of us ate all that much meat to begin with and the meat we did eat was largely secondary to more complex and, frankly more appetizing, vegetable, lentil, and rice based sides. We wanted to give it a shot—cutting meat out entirely—not for weight management, but for a desire to eat better foods in general: more natural foods with less ingredients needed to hold them all together.

Ever since, we’ve, for the most part, stuck to that diet. I say “for the most part” because it can be difficult in the south, especially where we live, to adopt a meatless diet. Sometimes meat is literally infused into every single thing (food, drink, or otherwise), so across our plate has slid, on occasion, a salmon filet. Or a bowl of soup with meat bits in it. The situation has proved unavoidable at times and even more so depending on who we eat with, but we’ve gotten better at it, slowly, by figuring out what restaurants give us the most options and what recipes we most enjoy cooking at home. And while it obviously isn’t the most convenient diet to follow, being vegetarian is something I think we’ve both seen benefits from, and something, I’m sure, we’ll continue to do for a long time to come.

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