Hi… my name is Whitney and I’ve been a vegetarian for about 2 years now. This post is certainly not going to try to talk ANYONE into being a vegetarian. I actually probably would NOT recommend it. Limited choice of meals and recipes… nasty meat replacement products that I rarely touch with a 26-foot spatula… annoying, “does that have chicken broth in it” questions… limited restaurant choices. Basically… I’m annoying. I’m definitely not one of those vegan people who believe that dairy and egg products are of the devil… I still eat my cheeses and eggs, etc. Just not animal flesh.
I don’t think many people know the actual reason I became a vegetarian 2 years ago (which conveniently corresponds with the timeframe that I began losing weight). Pretty sure the people in my life who knew I was one thought the reason was because I watched the documentary called Food, Inc. and my already germ-a-phobe ways went on red alert and exploded into a billion pieces of… oh, no I didn’t just see that. That movie certainly helped to strengthen the vegetarianism resolve… but it wasn’t the actual reason for the vegetarian ways.
It’s still hard for me to talk about the reason. It brings up a lot of darkness and despair and pain and alone. I was talking to my sister about this tonight and telling her that I didn’t think I could write about it at this point. Her reply… why not? She had a point… I couldn’t really answer her question with any valid reason… sure, I could make things up… my toe gangrene explodes upon any mention of that past… or my nostril flares up when I think about it and I spend the rest of the day with my finger stuck up the other nostril. Both debilitating reasons… but oh, so not true (do not call the Gangrene Council of America… I do not have Gangrene! Lawsy… lie a couple of times and suddenly you are labeled a liar!) So, I’m jumping in… head first at this point… hope the concussion don’t last too long.
Pretty much since the day I got my driver’s license at the age of 16 until the day I became a vegetarian, I practiced what I like to call marathon eating. Definitely not as prestigious as running an actual 26.2 miler… but it was the only marathon I thought I’d ever complete. Marathon eating was me driving to several different fast food restaurants and ordering as much as I had money for in the space of a few hours. Why did I go to several restaurants on the same night? Because it was too embarrassing to order all that food from one single restaurant… they would think I was a pig… slap a sticker on my butt and call me Wilbur! Then, I’d pull into an abandoned parking lot somewhere in the dark and eat it all… every last scrap of it. I can’t give you an actual menu from those days. So much of my memory from those times is fogged over, but I do know it was never one hamburger… more like 4 or 5 or 6 complete with fries and nuggets and ice cream and… Anything that was high calorie and high fat and could stuff whatever emotion I happened to be feeling down further into my gangrenous toes. I remember there was crying in that darkness and there was a feeling of complete and utter alone… me and my bags of grease… and at that time I felt that was the only thing that would ever provide me comfort. Because food doesn’t judge and doesn’t view you as a disappointment and happens to be a fairly inexpensive, easy fix…
One day a few years ago, I found myself in the same situation… eating in a darkened parking lot… and I had this sudden sense of disgust come over me. I looked down at myself and my bags and bags of food and I was utterly disgusted. I’d never had that in the moment of eating. Sure, after I’d downed a meal fit for 47 kings, I’d always feel the disgust… but that would be quickly forgotten the next time I was in need of a fix. That moment of clarity I had sitting in my car in the mall parking lot changed my life. I threw away all my bags of food and vowed that night that I would do something to change my ways. The best thing I could think of? Become a vegetarian. If I was a vegetarian, I wouldn’t eat the hamburgers and the fried chicken and the baconator… I’d have to find something else to fill that need. So, I became one. I became a vegetarian and I began being more conscious of what I was putting into my mouth… eating more fruits and vegetables… which eventually spurred on more good choices and change. I can honestly say, sitting here today, I have not had a fast food hamburger/fried chicken/baconator, etc., in over 2 years’ time. And you know what… I don’t miss it. I’m not saying I’m completely healed… there are other foods that don’t contain meat that can be used as an emotional crutch… but I got rid of my biggest culprit. The one that was slowly moving me into my box 6 feet under.
I know I’ve always preached on this blog about “everything in moderation.” And I still preach that… I don’t think there is anything wrong with a fast food burger every now and then… but I wasn’t going to be able to live with every now and then. Like an alcoholic has to totally abstain from alcohol, I had to totally abstain from hamburgers (which is quite ironic since my mother’s maiden name happens to be Berger… was it in the genes?) 😛 So, family… now you know the story of how I became an annoying vegetarian… you can stop blaming Food, Inc. and the cattle industry… and for goodness sakes, leave Wilbur, the pig out of it!
Question of the Day: What food is your biggest emotional crutch?