Monday, May 26, 2014

Losing my V-card

Vegetarian. That word stirs up so much emotion and controversy with so many people, it's almost sad. There are so many reasons why people change and adapt their food ideologies and why some are so passionate about what goes on their plates.

I've been living the plant-based diet lifestyle for nearly 5 years now. It began one day when I asked myself, " I really need to eat meat?" I ate beef and chicken occasionally and really enjoyed vegetarian foods and seafood so I figured, I may as well cut the land and air animals out of my diet. As I did, I educated myself about the farming industry and the hormones injected in our livestock, and that was even more grounds for me to avoid eating meat. Having an endocrine disorder already (I have polycystic ovary syndrome) I decided eating animals injected with growth hormones was not something I really wanted to do. So I became a pescatarian, eating a mostly plant based diet that included eggs, dairy, and occasionally seafood. After 2 years of that, I decided to give up the seafood as well and become a "full vegetarian."

But over the last couple of years I've waffled over the idea of eliminating eggs and dairy, or adding fish back to my diet. And in the process I've learned there is a very strange phenomenon in the plant-based community. The V-card. The vegetarian/vegan label.

It's almost comical how vegans and vegetarians chastise each other for their chosen dietary restrictions. As if someone including dairy makes them less than you. You have no right to imply you are vegetarian or semi-vegetarian if you stray away from the strict ideals of an entirely plant-based diet. What is the purpose? Don't most vegetarians and vegans choose it because it prevents animal cruelty, or it lessens their carbon footprint? So if someone makes any kind of effort to restrict their animal consumption, shouldn't it be praised instead of picked apart? 

I suppose it is inconsequential to me because I chose to eat plant based for my own health. I don't think being vegetarian or vegan makes you a special little snowflake. I don't think someone saying "oh, I'm like a vegetarian that eats fish" is an offensive way to describe being pescatarian. And I also don't feel ashamed that I want to add fish and seafood back into my diet. Because at the end of the day, my body is my temple, and what goes into it is ultimately what makes me feel best. So my imaginary V-card isn't a label I need to feel comfortable about the foods I put into my body. Call me an omnivore, tell me fish is murder, whatever. But I know that what I'm doing is what feels right to me.