I remember being a little kid, eating my Fruit Loops with 1% percent milk—and twenty minutes later puking up my breakfast! The switch to skim milk wasn’t much help. And soon thereafter yogurt and cheese got the heave-ho too. Although I admit, in college I had my fair share of late night pizzas, but that didn’t last long either.
Now prior to college I grew up in a fairly meat-centric Italian family. Sure, my mother did her best to expose me and my bother to different kinds of fruits and vegetables. I was probably the only kid on the block eating fresh figs, zucchini, chestnuts, cactus-pears, and scallions, but, I was still getting a decent dose of French fries, hamburgers, and ice-cream. I seldom ate fast food, barely any supermarket junk-food, and I almost never ate fried- or deep-fried stuff. And candy? Most of my Halloween goodies and chocolate Easter bunnies ended up in the freezer, only to be used in the occasional batch of cookies.
I probably grew up eating considerably healthier than many standard American families. Not bad, considering my grandfather regularly made his own pork sausage and salami! But it wasn’t until college that my desire for meat really took a nose dive. The college dinning hall is sight to behold—typically teeming with food that would make Dr. Fuhrman hit the ceiling like a cat in the cartoons.
Mine was no different; station one dessert; station two meat and potatoes; station three griddlecakes and omelets; station four sandwiches; station five pizza, hotdogs, hamburgers, chili, and French fries. To their credit, they did have a salad bar—loaded with cheese, bacon bits, croutons, and ranch dressing. After a few months of watching my peers scarf down meals of ketchup drenched hotdogs with a side of Lucky Charms and milk—oh I’m serious—I figured there had to be a better way. These people looked terrible, and it didn’t appear spaghetti topped with nacho cheese and bacon bits was very health-promoting. So I flipped the script on my diet even more.
Red meat, sausage, and ham were the first to go. Then followed by white-bread, cheese, and the little butter I was still eating. A typical college meal for me started to look like this: chicken or fish (sometimes no meat at all), side of veggies, some sort of rice or pasta, and usually a small salad or various pickled veggies from the salad bars. A far-cry from the way I eat now, but leagues above my standard American classmates. So, why do I bring all this up?
Because for years I thought it was strange that all on my own, without any outside influence (excluding observation), I just up and changed my diet. I naturally felt less compelled to eat meat. Why? I’ve always eaten meat, sure never to the extent where I was eating bacon and eggs every morning, but I’d always eaten it. No one in my family is vegetarian, vegan, or flexitarian—where did this urge come from? I still don’t know. But today, I found out I’m not alone.
I Was Just Really Very Hungry claims she is 75% vegetarian, which is funny, because during my college dietary renaissance I referred to my eating habits similarly. In fact, I still consider myself 90 to 95% vegetarian. After all, as I’ve pointed out in Eating to Live on the Outside, I’ll still eat fish or chicken from time to time. Okay, I’ll let I Was Just Really Very Hungry explain her own experience:
I find that the older I get the less I seem to crave meat. When I was in my teens and 20s I felt deprived when some form of meat or fish wasn't the centerpiece of a meal, but nowadays I think that more than half the meals I eat don't have either of those. Overall I think I am about 75% vegetarian (well, lacto-ovo vegetarian) in my eating.Now, if you check out the post you’ll probably be taken back by her occasional foray with Walliserplatte—a platter of sliced meats and cold cuts—but I find it interesting that she too is just naturally pulling away from meat. Maybe it has something to do with her traditional Japanese upbringing, a lot like how my mother shielded me from many standard American foods. Either way, this is pretty amazing to me, how something can just click and change your whole outlook. Anyone have a similar story?