To Meat or Not To Meat? Is That The Only Question?


Each season brings new holidays, and each holiday brings new food. On Thanksgiving, families fill their stomachs with juicy turkeys, and Christmas brings sugar cookies with hot chocolate. Now, imagine the same famous meals without meat. As peculiar as it seems, that way of life became the norm for me about a year ago.
Eliminating meat from my diet was never hard for me, as both of my parents are vegetarian. Without much meat in the house, the transition was simple and easy. However, social events and restaurants held many challenges. At parties or dinners, I always felt guilty when I denied a meat item that a family friend had worked hard to prepare. Eating at restaurants was also an adjustment.
After seeing horrible images of factory farms that produced much of the meat I ate, I became a bit traumatized, but mostly inspired to follow my parents’ footsteps and become vegetarian. It seems that many people are like me — choosing to stop eating meat because of parental preferences or concern for animals, though some other reasons include health issues
or religious beliefs.
My father, Lance Brady, started the vegetarian trend in my family about two and a half years ago.
“Initially, I read a book about an ultramarathoner who was a vegetarian and then later a vegan,” Brady said. “I was curious to see if I could try [vegetarianism] while I was training
for my marathons.”
My extended family, however, had opposing views when I decided to become a vegetarian. I was teased by my relatives, specifically one uncle who was utterly shocked that I could eat a meal without meat. My grandmother, Judy Stohl, was especially surprised, as she didn’t really know what to cook for me.
“I grew up on a farm, and our meals centered around meat,” Stohl said, “so it’s very hard for me to cook
without meat.”
However, my switch to not eating meat has changed her ideas of vegetarianism.
“I have learned how to not eat meat for every meal, but I think I would miss it,” Stohl said.
Despite a long year as a vegetarian, I have since transitioned to now call myself a “flexitarian.” Though I avoid meat, I indulge in occasional seafood, ham, and chicken. I’m also willing to admit that I consumed a generous amount of turkey this past Thanksgiving.
I have also been asked many times if I could ever be vegan. Though I would like to, my truthful answer is no. Dairy is such a vital part of my diet, as I receive much of my protein from dairy instead of meat. My grandmother said that though it would be difficult, she might consider vegetarianism, but her response to veganism was a firm refusal.
“Never vegan,” Stohl said with a laugh, but my father took a surprisingly different approach.
“I have thought about it. I haven’t switched, mainly because it would require more work on my part and I would have to be more vigilant about eating other foods that I could get my protein from. Right now, I get a lot of my protein from eggs and dairy
products,” Brady said.
Although vegetarianism and veganism are ultimately better for the environment, both are commitments that you must be willing to make. However, always remember that you are
what you eat.