Becoming a vegetarian hasn’t been very hard…but then again, it’s only been 2 days! Wednesday, May 8, 2013 was my first day as a vegetarian. The last time I had eaten meat before that day was Sunday, May 5. Just 3 days later, I wasn’t really doing anything so radically unusual to my body. I didn’t find myself craving meat, or having “meat withdrawal” or anything such thing. My body felt the exact same. My mind, on the other hand, felt totally different.
As I made my breakfast, my usual oatmeal and coffee, I knew that it would be some time before I was even confronted with the option of eating meat. We don’t really eat much of it in my house. But something inside of me was different. Maybe it was seeing my plants growing on the porch, or some lingering effects of yoga class, but I actually felt like a cleaner, younger, happier person.
I think there’s a lot of power in sacrifice. It’s the reason why Lent is so meaningful for Christians, or Ramadan is so sacred to Muslims. When you see something that you know you can have, and would be really easy to get, perhaps even in large amount, and actively refuse it, you confront the truth of what you need versus what you want. You empower yourself to live more meaningfully. You are not just having something simply “because you can”. You’re trimming away excess, greed, and gluttony.
Pretty soon, what was at first a “sacrifice” is now a gift. You didn’t lose the chocolate you gave up for Lent: you gained deeper appreciation for it. You didn’t starve yourself during Ramadan: you experienced your meals in a more mindful way. Perhaps even people who forgo their usual second cup of coffee feel empowered by not needing it! By mentally labeling myself a vegetarian, I was acknowledging a future of eating more cleanly, as well as the value of other foods. I found myself eating so much healthier, too! I didn’t drink any soda, or eat too many processed foods. I even found myself watching less TV. Vegetarianism doesn’t force you to do this, of course, and I’m not about to throw out all my electronics and Pop Tarts. But being aware and conscientious about one aspect of your life makes you so incredibly more aware of everything else.
On my first day as a vegetarian, I found myself feeling more satisfied than I had felt in a long time. I thought about all the lobster rolls I wouldn’t be eating this summer on the beach, and the Fenway Franks I’d be passing up at the ballpark this summer, and the Thanksgiving turkey that wouldn’t accompany my passed potatoes and gravy this fall. But I didn’t feel any desire for them. I was actually looking forward to these occasions more than ever!