Now, never would I have realized until the past couple years how one of the most sensitive subjects to talk about isn’t religion, politics, weight or exercise but rather diet! After spending the past few years toying with the idea of adjusting my own diet, this past year I decided to go fully vegetarian. To be completely honest, it wasn’t hard at all for me. I mostly ate that way anyways but sometimes struggled to find viable options when travelling as an elite athlete. On top of that, I like to be easy going and absolutely dreaded the idea of being a difficult guest when invited over to dinner. So, when I decided to take a step back from my sport it felt like an appropriate time to transition my diet. But little did I know that the hardest thing about transitioning to a vegetarian diet was dealing with the occasional intrigue or intermittent defense from others when it would come up.
I never like my vegetarianism being the focus of conversation at a dinner and will always try and sneakily bring my own veggie burgers to a party a find my own options on the menu. However, whenever the conversation did arise I found I would either be unloaded with questions or have others come to the offense. As soon as it would come up people would often try and tell me either their reasons for eating meat or trying to decrease their meat intake, they would ask what my reasoning was behind my decision or state that they could never give up a good old juicy steak. Now I was never or will never be offended by this, and it doesn’t bother me in the least to answer those questions however I found it fascinating to see the patterns around people’s reactions.
We are living in a world now with so many options, around everything but there is especially a trend around food and dietary requirements. Whether you are keto, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, gluten free, pescatarian, low glycemic or even a carnivore it is becoming the norm to be able to go to restaurants that have options for everyone! Despite all the options what I find is that there is still so much judgement around the food choices we make. The carnivores think the vegans are environmentalists pushing agendas and the vegans think the carnivores are destroying the earth. The paleo’s think the caveman had it right and the vegetarian’s think the pescatarian’s need to be more concerned about our legless fin flapping friends. All the while the people that eat everything from cheese to grains to fish feel like they should be choosing a side amongst the chaos. Now I know I am choosing the extreme ends of all the categories but its purpose is to serve a point. Why do we care so much about how other people eat?
We need to stop the judgment of each other in so many areas of life but especially around our diet. I am a vegetarian who is lactose intolerant but adores the occasional indulgence in cheese. I eat a mostly vegan diet when I want to, but I don’t hold myself to the boundaries the vegan rules and that’s okay with me. Do I judge other people that enjoy a good piece of meat? Not at all! It’s their body and they can choose to walk through this life fueling it however they desire, and I will do the same. Forcing our opinions about diet choices and food lifestyles are never going to resonate with anyone! Just like it often doesn’t work with religion, I don’t think it works with diet either. I love sitting down and having conversations with people about why I choose to not eat meat, and I love hearing their opinion to eat it as well. My choice to eat this way doesn’t mean I judge you for yours, and I hope it works visa versa.
What I do believe (and remember this is only my opinion and doesn’t need to be yours) is that we all need to take more notice of where and how our food is getting to us. Whether that being buying organic if you can afford to or supporting your local farm and farmers market. I think we need to take the power back from the large corporations that have made food a commodity and not a source of fuel and health. And through that reduced waste and a more environmentally friendly effect will come.
But in the meantime, I think we should worry less about what others are putting into their mouths and focus more on what food our bodies need to live their best lives. I think this world can always use a little bit more kindness and open-mindedness.
Signing out (as a vegetarian that thinks she will try some locally sourced lobster when she heads to Halifax next month because that’s what her body wants)