When I first decided to stop eating meat, I was nearing the end of my senior year in high school. A link to various images regarding the various types of mystery meat on the market (digitally altered perhaps) and the odd feeling of last night’s dinner weighed on my stomach and my face. The latter in which Proactiv and others tried to help.
Trying to be conscious of my health, and prove a point to my family (and maybe myself), I decided I’d stop eating meat.
You would have thought I had announced to my very Bajan/West Indian family, that I was mistaken about where I was, or how many days there were in a year.
See, meat & seafood are pretty much a base in a Caribbean diet aside from rice and peas. And if, for some reason, one decides to nix half of it, you still have the other.
Right? That’s what my mother wanted to know; what the hell was I going to eat? What doctor did I need to see? The vitamins, the weight marks – it was a sudden anxiety tunnel she drove me into.
But no matter! I was going to do it regardless. Until ‘that day.’
See, ‘that day‘ happened when I least expected it to. That’s how the Devil works, or so the elders say. I earned about eight dollars an hour doing the bare minimum of secretarial/Porter (correction, portress!) work for non-cloistered nuns on the weekends. I had a laptop, some snacks and complex convent to roam around when I needed to claim the word ‘fitness.’ Near the end of my shift, my ride wasn’t exactly on time, and the nuns were just about to serve themselves some humble food.
“Would you like to have some dear?” How on earth could I refuse a giving soul? And turning down free food was sinful, so I meekly accepted, trying not to let the saliva reveal itself.
As I walked up the stairs, past the grandfather clock and the Virgin Mary, the nuns had a pretty big spread. Before I knew it I was laughing, digesting, and consuming, before the doorbell chimed.
Like a lady, I swallowed my gluttony and bid the nuns farewell until the next shift, and walked down the stairs. I saw the stained glass on the wall, and Mary bowing on the table, when I nearly collapsed like an actress in a telenova; I ATE THE CHICKEN.
Sure it was dry, stringy and needed water to go down, but I ATE THE FREAKING CHICKEN! What the hell?! The two weeks I salivated and starved. Opened the cupboard doors in disappointment and frustration. Dealt with harrowing headaches and a singing stomach, only to be tempted by the new evil that was MEAT!
I tried not to let the tears give way until I got to the car, and then I set them free. After wallowing in disappointment and self-loathing, my family members softly tried to tell me that I didn’t lose my badge or was less of a vegetarian because I slipped. What did they know? Well, I Googled it later, and saw that others said the same. So what the hell did I know?
All I knew is, was that unless I had full support and cash available to properly substitute this ‘no meat’ thing, it wasn’t going to be easy or last. When I calmed down and spoke to my mother about my decision, she slowly nodded and said “you can do it.”
I knew I could. I also knew that a nice plate of fish and rice would be nice to have right about then.
So, what have we learned for vegetarianism 101? Don’t cry over dry chicken or whatever meat type you ate when your first start out. You will slip up. If you’re serious about your new diet, have faith and let everyone know you haven’t lost your mind, but you’re trying something out for size. Also a strong stomach and good meals are a must! The first in case you do slip up, and the second if you want to swear off the stuff another time.