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Rabbit Food, Half vegetarians, and bacon? Sorry mom, I have sinned.

Posted by: jennchen115 | October 4, 2011 | No Comment |

Growing up as a vegetarian… I must say, wasn’t easy. Everywhere I go, I was limited in food choices. People around me would stare blankly when they find out I don’t eat meat. Not every restaurant were veggie friendly, therefore it was hard to fill my stomach when I’m out at dinner events. What’s even harder, was explaining why I am the way I am to every person that I come across who finds my “eating habits” odd. “YOU’RE VEGETARIAN???” “Why don’t you eat meat?” “Eww… so what? You eat rabbit food all day long?”

No, I don’t eat rabbit food all day long. I don’t even like carrots.

The funny thing is that, it doesn’t matter what answer I give them I still become the center of their jokes. “Save a cow! Eat a vegetarian!” -right…

People usually joke around saying I’m a cheap date. There’s no need to bring me to fancy French restaurants since I can’t eat 90% of the food there. “There’s grass everywhere, just bring her outside” they said. “A vegetarian? Good luck in finding a boyfriend then. And a husband! Ha! I don’t think I can deal dating a non meat eater,” those were some of the other few words my so called “friends” would throw out.

So exactly… Why AM I a vegetarian?

Well, my parents were vegetarians before I was even born. That was the diet of our households. It was the diet my two older sisters grew up with and it was the diet I was born into.  So basically, I didn’t have much of a choice when I was young. Having to never tasted meat before, my body automatically rejects the idea of consuming a once living animal into my stomach. Just the thought of it grosses me out. Although my parents never physically “forced” me to NOT eat meat, since I grew up eating vegetarian food, psychologically, I would puke by certain textures of meat.

Textures? Now how would I, a vegetarian all my life, know what meat textures taste like? – Alright, you’ve caught me. I wasn’t ALWAYS a vegetarian. Back in elementary, I liked to consider myself as a HALF vegetarian. I actually did not know that such term even existed until I did research for this blog. I always thought I was special, and made up the term on my own. “Half vegetarian? There’s no such thing as half vegetarians. It’s either you eat meat or you don’t,” my best friend would often say. Turns out there are actually a scientific term for half vegetarians.  Flexitarian or Semi-vegetarians are people who mostly eat a vegetarian diet but once in awhile would eat meat.

School, as I was growing up, did not have much veggie options. All they had was pizza, fries, and bread. Now that’s not really a healthy meal, especially if consumed every single day. Shortage of food was a big issue for me back then. I was a growing child who needs her nutrients and if there’s no food at school for me to eat, I can’t just starve, I had no choice but to begin experimenting meat.

I believe the very first meat I ate was chicken. It was one of those crispy fried chicken patties they give out at lunch in elementary. I didn’t really like the actual white meat texture, but I loved the crispy corners of the meat where it’s fried with breadcrumbs.

Then it was Kentucky Fried Chicken. Oh boy, those were good. The crispy skin fried with… whatever they fried them with… was delicious. I usually just eat the outside then give the inside to my friends. I had a weakness for crispy fried food, what can I say? When my mom found out, although she didn’t really like me eating meat, she didn’t really oppose the idea either. Although she DID find her own way to make me change my mind. “You love the crispy fried part? That’s the skin of the chicken. Imagine someone frying your skin and them ripping them apart to eat it.” Okay, that image really grossed me out. Thanks mom, you totally nailed it.

Next was bacon. Bacon… omg, I cannot stretch out how much in love I was with bacon. Bacon egg and cheese are to die for. Anything with bacon on it was magnificent.

My grandmother from my mother’s side was not as understanding in a vegetarian diet as my father was in the beginning when my mom first turned. “It’s the cycle of life” my grandmother would often argue. “Animals eat animals to survive. It’s the survival of fittest.” My grandmother and my mom would often get into an argument when my grandmother would sneak meat into my plate. “Let her be the one to choose,” my grandmother says out loud. “She has the right to try them at least once.” My mother would often respond with, “You shouldn’t force it into her plate either. If she doesn’t feel comfortable in eating it then just let her be.”

My mother first began her vegetarian diet shortly before she was pregnant with me. My grandmother would often sneak meat into her plate without tell her or cook soup with meat and say it’s vegetarian. Although, my mom would always know, and would dump out the food, she knows that my grandmother was only looking out for her. After all, she was pregnant, how else would she get her nutrition from if she doesn’t eat meat.  I guess it’s hard for parents to accept when their son or daughter all of the sudden comes home a vegetarian when they’ve been eating meat all their life.

My father was a bit more understanding although he was not about to give up meat himself. But eventually he too became a vegetarian after the 1st or 2nd year I was born. Whenever I asked my father, how did he end up changing his mind, he would respond with, “you’re mother has her ways.”

During my high school years, although I was mostly only eating a vegetarian diet, once in awhile I would eat meat outside the household. At the time, I found it unavoidable. It was hard not to meat when there was rarely anything else to eat. Other times, it was for my own self satisfactions.  Although I eat certain kinds of meat, there are also other kinds of meat that I was unable to consume. Even the smell of the dish made my stomach turn. I can’t really explain this old behavior, but let’s just leave it as physiological reasoning. I remember there was once; I was over at a friend’s house. Her Aunt made a whole table of really nice Chinese food but I couldn’t bring myself to eat them.  Feeling bad, her Aunt would ask me what would I like to eat, and she’ll order them. My answer was, “Chicken Nuggets!” I’m sorry, I was only used to eating fried chicken and bacon. Any other meat, I was not used to. Well needless to say, my friend’s Aunt didn’t like that answer very much.

It was hard, explaining to everyone my strange behaviors. How some meat I can consume while others would like me run to the bathroom. They didn’t really understand it. Some even thought I was being rude to their cooking. (For example, my friend’s Aunt)

Not trying to be depressing but, a child growing her in a world surrounded by meat eaters, has its physiological side effects. Sometimes I found myself resenting my parents for raising me “differently.” I wanted to be able to eat meat. I wanted to be able to blend in with the crowd and have multiple choices on the menu. I wanted to not to cause trouble for my friends whenever we can’t eat at places they want to eat at since it wasn’t veggie friendly. I wanted to not have any more trouble with the waitresses when my order goes wrong and meat appears on my dish. When I was a teen, I wanted to be like everyone else, Carnivores.

So how did I stop eating meat once and for all? Well… like my father said, my mother had “her ways.”

She came home one day, with a video of the slaughter house.

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