Warning: You may look at the mouth-watering pictures but do not read the text if you have weak stomach. Some descriptions are gross but nevertheless true.
I mentioned in my previous blog that my acupuncturist started my indoctrination in vegetarianism in 1995. He had concessions though—if you can’t go full vegetarian, you may opt for fish; if not, chicken is still better than meat—which made discipline difficult to establish as I always had an excuse to deviate from the ideal.
Meat and shellfish were first to go from my diet because I had not been really fond of them since I was a kid. I don’t know, maybe it’s my imperfect set of teeth then that made even taking just a bite of meat an ordeal for me. Read: I could not chew it and often got choked in my attempt to swallow it (whole, I guess).
When I made this life-changing decision, the rest of the household—and that means my mom—liked the idea and abstained from these fares readily. Changing diet is easy if the rest of your household is with you.
Giving up chicken, fish, eggs, and dairy products was a long, resurging battle though. “I’ve given up meat and shellfish so why be so hard on myself?” I rationalized. Soon I forgot why I had to do it…until years later in 1999, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. My paranoia about being a cancer candidate brought me back to vegetarianism and made me adopt a lot of anal habits. As I learned to loosen up, I slowly lost the discipline as well (again). “I’d rather die happy than healthy” became my motto.
Fast forward to 2005. I was diagnosed with myoma and endometrial polyps, for which my doctor recommended surgery right away. Conservative that I am, I wanted to try first non-invasive and natural ways of ridding them. Part of it was eliminating poultry from my diet since human body absorbs the growth hormones injected/fed on chicken, regardless whether it is consumed in the form of meat or eggs. And because I am no longer in my growing years, the hormones cause abnormal growths instead of increase in height—at least this was how a homeopath healer explained it to me. So goodbye poultry…welcome back meat! I’d have one or the other, I thought.
However, surgery proved inevitable so that last year I had polypectomy. Fortunately or unfortunately, I had a chance to see pieces of what’s taken out. Believe me or not, they looked exactly like cold cuts! Maybe, I am really no different from them….
Henceforth, I swore not to eat meat again…until I started going out with friends, who were certified carnivores, and dined in places where the only vegetable served was the garnishing. Out of town business trips, where I willingly subjected myself to the mercy of my gracious and generous hosts, who were likewise meat-eaters, did not serve me well either.
And the final moment of truth: one day I was queuing at the supermarket and the person before me had a cartful of meat. The sight of raw meat reminded me of the gangrene on my dog’s hind feet, which led him to his Creator some days prior to this incident. So there, no more meat for me. Ever. Really now.
I guess it is a matter of orientation. We live in a society, where cows, chickens, pigs, and fish are raised to be consumed, and we are therefore desensitized to animal killings. In our grade school science, we are taught that man feeds on plants and animals in the food chain. It is normal. It is acceptable. Some have even dropped the plants in their menu altogether, forgetting that before we learned to feed on animals (or in the present times, before babies learn to say “jollibee” or “chickenjoy”), we had had our first taste of “solids” in the form of rice cereals, vegetable purees, or fruit extracts. That is my eight-month-old niece’s diet and I hope she sticks to her vegetarian meals until she grows up. Otherwise, I would have a hard time explaining to her that line in the movie Nemo “Fish are friends, not food.”
My experiences in the last 13 years have changed my orientation and letting people around me know about it helps a lot. They may have given me that are-you-okay look initially but later, as they become more conscious of the changes in my lifestyle, they also become more considerate. Now in their choice of restaurant, they make sure there is something I can order. Besides, when they see my transformation inside and out, they know it is working for me…and they want to keep it that way. 😉
But then, there is what I call the hierarchy of values. That’s for another blog.