I have been a vegetarian for 7 years. I gave up eating meat upon my graduation from high school (do the math 🙂 ) for two reasons, both health-related. First, my dad had a pretty bad heart attach toward the end of my senior year, and my whole family tried to be healthier; I tried vegetarianism because of its benefits for the heart, and it stuck. Second, because of the stress of graduating and moving away combined with the end of my fall activity (Marching band. I know. Geek alert.) I gained a few pounds in the spring. This wasn’t much to speak of, considering I was probably a bit underweight to begin with, but the fear of the freshman 15 had me searching for a healthier diet. Needless to say, animal rights played only a small role in my decision and, because of this, it does not bother me when people around me eat meat.
It wasn’t until I got to college and was surrounded by like-minded people that I realized the political implications of my vegetarianism – how it is better for the environment, the economy, etc. It wasn’t until I became involved with the feminist community that I realized the feminist implications of my vegetarianism (see links below for more information on feminism and vegetarianism). When I read and heard these things, I was proud to say I was a vegetarian, and I continued with the exclusion of meat.
Recently, however, a few things in my life have changed drastically. I moved home, switched jobs, met a wonderful man, and started grad school all within a few months last summer. This drastically changed my eating habits; it is very difficult to make good, well-rounded, healthy, vegetarian meals and follow a workout schedule when you’re working a full-time job and taking graduate courses and having a social life. I end up making quick meals or eating out, neither of which are very healthy and, while I haven’t gained any weight, I feel different. I find myself sad more often, wearing baggier clothes, feeling… just gross. Tired and lifeless. I’m not quite sure how to explain it. Recently, I also find myself eating more often because I am hungry more often. The vegetarian fare isn’t keeping me as full as it used to. This makes me want to eat more fatty foods to satisfy my hunger. We all know where this ends up.
So, now, I’m left with a choice. I know I could be healthier and feel better and eat less if I started eating meat again. I’ve already started eating fish or seafood about once a week and I have been feeling a lot better. However, that would mean abandoning one of the most powerful political and feminist statements I feel I have ever adopted.
What’s a girl to do?
If you have any information, advice, or have been through this crisis of vegetarian faith, please feel free to add comments.
Links for more information about vegetarianism and feminism:
Veggie Eats – The Undomestic Goddess
Is Vegetarianism a Feminist Issue? – Adventures of a Young Feminist
Carol J. Adams’ site – Author of The Sexual Politics of Meat
V for Vegan: Horizontal Women – Kin
The Feminist-Vegetarian Connection
Day 6: Vegetarian Feminism – Veggie Styles
Carol Adam’s Vegan-Feminist Manifesto – Vegifem: Perspectives on Vegan Feminist Ethics