When I was 17, I saw a PETA video on the factory farming that scarred me for the rest of my life. It was so gruesome and guilt-provoking that it made me do something I thought was impossible: going vegetarian.
At first, this was a difficult task, and I found myself waking up in the middle of the night staring at the turkey bacon in my fridge like a starved animal. But I overcame that, and went on my vegetarian journey for three whole years.
Late into my vegetarian lifestyle, my health started to suffer. I noticed my skin started to get paler by the day, and my diet consisted of mainly carbs and junk food (so many chips, so little time). I began gaining weight from all the empty calories and bad food choices I made. At one point I was at risk of being diagnosed with anemia due to lack of protein in my diet. Contrary to the popular belief of vegetarians being healthy, I was the most unhealthy I ever was in my life.
Then, I did another seemingly impossible thing: I started eating meat again.
Lets fast forward to October 2015. I’m sitting in my then-boyfriend’s frat house during dinnertime, and I begin to have a staring contest with a chicken and bacon quesadilla at the kitchen table. Then something came over me, and the next thing I knew my plate was completely clean.
In that moment, I threw away all those years of self-will and training for one Mexican delight. At first, my mind and my stomach were regretting the decision since I wasn’t used to having meat in my system. But as I started to ease meat back into my diet, I noticed that my food choices became healthier and my body started to feel a lot better. I was no longer limiting myself from healthier food choices that had meat in them.
Let me be clear, I am not against vegetarianism. Everyone is different, and each body handles things differently. There are also many better ways to become vegetarian. Quite frankly, I was a pretty crappy vegetarian.
The lesson I learned from my experience is don’t try to be vegetarian if you’re always going to pick french fries over the kale salad. Sometimes, being a vegetarian does not mean you’re diet is healthy.
So, if you just recently came back to the dark (meat) side, don’t beat yourself up for it. Raise your drumstick in pride! At least you gave it a try, right?