I’m a vegetarian. I’m almost totally vegan, but I use that term sparingly since I knowingly eat jelly. I always, ALWAYS get asked why I don’t eat meat. Usually I spit the same lame answer about liking animals and being traumatized by an event involving my mother, dinner, and Lambchops Play-along on TV. I was a little traumatized, but the real effects of that surfaced years later.
I think the real reason I don’t want to eat meat is a fear of heart disease. My grandmother suffered through numerous heart attacks, angioplasties and bypass surgeries because of it. I’m pretty sure it could be attributed to her diet. She cooked everyday and all of the vegetables started with a stock of hamhocks, turkey necks or fat back, the chicken and pork chops were often fried and the bacon was crisp. It was all delicious, but at 8 years old I wasn’t concerned about my health.
Fast forward to college. That’s when weight became an issue. That was the first time I stopped eating meat and I lost a lot of weight. I liked the way I looked and I felt good about it. When I started eating meat again, I gained a ton of weight (what I’d lost plus a bunch) and developed some health problems that may or may not have been related to my diet. I can’t exactly say what triggered the thought, but I made the decision to remove animal products from my diet totally over time. I know subconsciously I feel that if I behave in a way totally opposite of the way my grandmother was, I will live longer, be happier and healthier. Please don’t kill my joy by giving me your facts. Let me live in my own world.
I love my grandmother with everything in me. It was devastating to see her sick and die. Just the thought of her makes me cry. But I know that she would want me to live a long and good life, even if it meant going against all that she did in her life. I don’t want my grandchildren to cry over me the way I cry over her. So I’m doing things differently – taking tons of pictures, making lots of memories, laughing and being a little more aware of what I eat.
So the next time you see me chowing down on my tofu and hummus, before you make a snide remark about me being one of “those” sistas with locs, reusable grocery bags and a love for conscious music, try to consider my motive. And be a little sensitive.