This post is a very difficult one to write. I spent a few days writing down notes and trying to find the right words to say, and come across in a way that doesn’t piss anyone off. Truth is, I don’t think there is any way around that so I am just going to have to speak my mind and let the words flow from the heart. So here it goes.
Last thursday, I ended my five years of vegetarianism. Before you assume that I just couldn’t resist the taste of animal flesh any longer- the reason I decided to return to being an omnivore was for health reasons. I felt great on a vegetarian diet for a long time, but the last six months or so, I felt my health start to decline. My energy was low, I felt weak, I was really anxious and had a lot of ups and downs in my mood and had this strange sort of foggy brain feeling. I also started to notice that my hair was falling out even more than usual. ( I have been known to clog drains ).
Tired of feeling tired, I began to do some more research on ways I could improve my diet. I started reading on different types of diets and listening to podcasts with speakers from a raw vegan diet to speakers with a paleo diet. ( And everything in between ). I began questioning whether vegetarianism was still right for me. I started weighing the pro’s and con’s but decided to stick to my vegetarian diet.
The next few months ( while also marathon training ) I tried all that I could to reach optimal performance. I tried eating more veggies, raw veggies, nuts, seeds, fruit, no fruit, more eggs...etc. etc. nothing seemed to help. My recovery times after hard workouts or long runs seemed way to long. I began to think that maybe adding adding meat to my diet could be the missing link. The thought of it horrified me. What would people think of me if I started eating meat again? Would I be seen as a hypocrite? A failure? Thrown into a pit and stoned to death by fellow vegetarians? Would it mean that I was less of a person? Less spiritual or compassionate? I had seen ex-vegetarians torn to pieces by vegetarians/vegans and was completely terrified. There was no way. But I wanted to feel better. What if eating meat helped me feel better? That question continued to nag me until I listened to a podcast (Underground Wellness by Sean Croxton) interview with a very wise woman named Zoe Harcombe. She talked about how she used to be a vegetarian, but then realized that there were nutrients that she was missing out on where animal products were not just the best source, but the only source. She says she loves animals just as much now, but she feels indebted to them, that she needs to thank them for being there for her to eat. ( she mentions she will not however, eat factory farm rubbish. ) She said she wants to eat the animals that have had a good life, grazed in open fields and were raised humanely and then thank them for being there for her and providing her much needed nutrients. - To vegans/vegetarians this sounds like just another excuse to eat meat. I know. I have been there and have thought these exact things. But as Sean said in response “My physiology really doesn’t know animal cruelty.”
A couple of days after listening to this podcast, I finally decided it was time to give meat a try. I reserved all rights to move back to a plant based diet, and just see how my body felt as I shifted back to being an omnivore.
My first omnivourous meal included a bit of chicken. I must of sat down with my plate of food and just stared at it for 5 minutes repeatedly asking myself if I really wanted to do this...but I really wanted to feel better and was willing to try anything. Before I could give it a try I realized I had forgotten a knife. I can’t remember the last time I actually had to use a knife with my dinner. You don’t have many tough things to cut through when you are a vegetarian. I looked back at the poor little chicken breast and said "sorry chicken. I have to eat you now." Following Zoe’s feeling of being indebted to animals I thanked it for it’s life and took a bite.
There is something I must clarify at this moment. Through my 5 years of vegetarianism I did not crave meat, but I am not afraid to admit that, the first bite of chicken tasted extremely good. I had completely forgotten what meat had tasted like and instantly realized why omnivores find mock meat items un-appealing. Not only did it taste good but it tasted right. By right I mean I didn’t feel a sense of guilt like I thought I would. I could of told you that I had to plug my nose and close my eyes as I ate the chicken in disgust but that would be a lie. I am not here to lie, and if this experience can help open other peoples eyes about their diet whether it be vegetarian or not, than this blog is worth any harsh criticism it may receive.
It has been almost a week since I ventured back to the omni lifestyle and I have since had some chicken and fish. So far I have noticed less anxiety and I am a lot more mentally alert. I was so used to feeling in a fog that I had just passed it off as being normal. Who knew that being alert and being able to focus could be so easy?
Not only am I feeling better mentally and physically, but also spiritually. The thought of vegetarianism of being this sort of superior spiritual state is a lot of weight to hold on your shoulders. I feel humbled in returning to the Omni world. There is no sense of superiority. I am just like everyone else and I feel more in touch with life and death - like I have re-entered the “circle of life”. It is hard to explain but I am at peace.
Many people might wonder if I regret being a vegetarian for 5 years. The answer is no. It made me aware of my food choices, and helped me really research where my food was coming from. Most importantly it helped me find my passion for cooking. I learned a lot in those 5 years and I am very thankful for that.
Although I have returned to being an Omnivore, as Zoe Harcombe said “I won’t eat that factory farm rubbish” I will still be very careful about my choices and what sort of animal products I buy and put into my body. I won’t eat just any meat, and eating meat again doesn’t mean I will be eating McDonalds and Taco Bell. I refuse to become disconnected with my food and will still be eating real, healthy, unprocessed foods and buy them as locally as possible in order to support the farmers that raise their animals properly. We will never live in a meatless world (if you still believe we will, then you are dreaming ) so why not support those who are raising animals properly?
Eating meat again is a strange feeling. Giving it up for 5 years really makes you appreciate it so much more. Not only that but I can actually open a cookbook and cook any recipe I choose. I don’t have to skim through for vegetarian recipes or try to think of ways to sub this or that in order to give it a meaty texture or think about combining foods in order to get all the complete proteins I need. I feel like I have discovered a whole new world in cooking. It will be quite an adventure cooking things for the first time. My food blog will definitely be getting a bit of a makeover.
Well, that is it for now. Vegans/vegetarians- feel free to tear me to pieces, or offer your support if you have ever found yourself in a similar situation.
Whats up Omni's?
Happy Lent everybody...needless to say I won’t be giving up meat.