I'll probably remember this date for quite awhile, because some major lifestyle changes are starting today.
This is exactly what I thought when I made the decision to go vegetarian on November 24, 2005 (Thanksgiving day! Ironic, huh?). I was sixteen, and had only recently become interested in the ethics system of our society. Why we choose to behave the way we do, why we purchase what we purchase, wear what we wear, eat what we eat...you get it. As a high-schooler, I could only do so much. I decided that I didn't want turkey that night. The next day, I realized that I never wanted it again, or any other animal product, for that matter.
You know those kids who watch a ten-minute PETA video and then pledge to go vedge immediately afterward? Well, I wasn't one of them. In fact, I hate the organization with a fiery passion, and the idea that thousands upon thousands of people listen so intently to such hateful, one-sided propaganda is just plain shocking! No, definitely not a fan of PETA. I did my research (if you're curious about any of this stuff, just ask -- I'll throw some info at you. As much as you want. And probably a bit more afterward, haha), and what I found out was disturbing.
I'm sure that if more people who strive to shop more ethically (not sure if I'm phrasing that correctly) knew the conditions in which our livestock, poultry, etc are kept, they would at least consider going vegetarian. If more people who strive to lead healthier lifestyles knew what our meat and dairy went through pre-grocery store, I'm sure they'd consider this lifestyle as well. And hey, even people who have any sort of interest in the world hunger crisis might find this lifestyle appealing -- basically, if you happen to have a few acres of farmland, you have quite a few choices as to what to do with said land. You can, for example, raise a handful of cattle. OR you could raise a TON of soybeans. No, I'm not saying that all farmers should raise soybeans instead of cattle, and I'm not avoid statistics because I'm lazy. There are a LOT of different statistics on this out there, and they're ALL different. But they all seem to point to one thing -- you can produce a heck of a lot more soybeans than cattle (again, these are just examples) with the same amount of land and, therefore, feed many more people. Does that make sense?
All three of these reasons factored into my decision. I feel that is it wrong for human society to treat other species as we do. I want to lead a healthier lifestyle, free of so much of the processed crap that so many people order at [insert any fast food place here] every day...sometimes several times a day. And I feel that it is absolutely heartbreaking to hear about the populations of so many third world countries starving out of existence when we Americans have enough food to last us through several lifetimes (but I mean, if we all die of obesity-related health issues, this may be a moot point...um, but I digress here, haha).
However, as of late, these changes in my lifestyle have taken a turn on me. =(
I failed pretty hard at the vegan thing, but I was a happy lacto-vedge for nearly six years. Yes, was. Thought I would be for the rest of my life. There was never any trouble in the beginning -- a lot of people told me I would have severe KFC cravings and whatnot. Nope. It felt natural to be eating the way I did. It felt like that the whole way through.
I've been having some health problems the last few years. They came into existence so gradually that, up until recently, I would not have been able to distinguish feeling well/healthy from feeling the way I did on a regular basis...even if I had to. I thought it was normal for your appetite to decrease dramatically as you grow older. I also thought it was normal to lack hunger all day after having a bowl of cereal in the morning...and for half the things you eat to make you feel a bit nauseous, to some degree. And to feel so tired that -- heck, I could practically sleep on command. I could go on.
My doctor and I went through a ton -- a TON -- of different possibilities, but in the end the culprit seemed to be one specific thing -- gluten.
Wanna know what gluten's in?
Okay, not everything, but that's sure what it seems like right now! The possibility of being intolerant to gluten came up several times, and honestly, I just chose not to process the possibility. I knew fully well that if my diet had to have so many restrictions added to it...I'd probably have to lift quite a few of the restrictions that were already on it.
Went to the doc yet again this afternoon and, as of today, I am gluten-free. Actually, I've been gluten-free for the last few weeks for experimental reasons (except when my roomie made puppy chow...heh. Totally worth the suffering, haha), and I cannot describe how much better life is now. I don't have an allergy, and I don't have celiac disease. What I do have, though -- what's been developing over the past few years -- is a slowly-worsening intolerance to gluten. It really is in a lot of different foods, but now that I've actually been going out of my way to avoid it, I can:
-- Wake up at eight -- naturally, sometimes -- and have enough energy to last me through the day, until I go to bed at midnight/one-ish. Naps were so last year.
-- Run a mile almost a minute faster than I could before!
-- NOT feel five months pregnant after eating a small/normal-sized meal (yeah, that was never fun)
-- NOT be thirsty 24/7 (still not sure why that was an issue...but it's not anymore!)
-- feel hungry on a regular basis.
-- and not feel sick afterward.
-- just have a better attitude...or a less-pronounced attitude problem, at least...in general. ;) Trust me, if that many of your dilemmas all simultaneously disappeared, you'd be a bit more chipper, too!
Here it is, nearly six years later, and I'm still trying to live more ethically (part of the degree I'm working on actually has to do with Ethics). It'll probably be a lifelong endeavor. And, of course, I still want to try to have a healthy lifestyle (that definitely does not mean I'm never touching a cookie everever again. Being perfect's overrated!). But in order for me to be healthy, I can't restrict myself so much. I'm feeling pretty bittersweet about this right now, but I think it's the right decision. Right and doctor-approved.
I still love my tofu and vedgies.
I am still a hardcore supporter of animal rights.
Still gonna follow all the vedge bloggers whose amaaaazing recipes have intrigued me over the past few years.
Oh, that's right...I have a blog, too! Well, that will change as well. =/
Although I don't subscribe to a particular system of ethics, I do believe that any personal choice that proves to be detrimental to your well-being is the wrong choice.
What do you think?