At some point eating the flesh of an animal didn’t seemed natural to me; especially when you consider animals have many of the same vital organs that humans have. I always wanted an alternative to eating meat, yet nothing in my life supported this choice, so for most of my adult life I ignored the feeling that there was another way to live and to eat.
In my early twenties I flirted with the idea of giving up meat. I told my mother, “I no longer eat meat.” She was almost horrified, and said, “Jo-Anne, you’d better eat some meat.” She said it with the tone of “if you don’t ,you are risking not having good health.” I soon gave up this venture when I realized I was eating more bread and pasta than would be good for my waistline: this was the days before tofu, tofurkey, and meatless burgers.
When I married, my husband wasn’t obsessed with eating meat ,yet he didn’t understand any need to exclude it from our diets. He was from a country where having three meals a day was considered a blessing, meat or no meat. I gave him one of my many reasons for giving it up; one being the toxins in it. He said, “the chickens and cows in Nigeria are free range and are clean.” “Food is food, what matters is that you have something to eat.” It was all the same to him. Had I been a stronger person and more firm in my conviction to abstain from animal flesh, I could have overcome this small obstacle and simply ate the way I chose. This is the difference between a conviction and a good idea. Had I been convicted, I would have stuck with it: with or without the support of my spouse.
The years passed, I gave birth to three children, and one of the midwives at my daughter’s birth was a vegetarian. Unknown to her, I looked at her with envy, and said to myself, “I wish I could be like that. It seems like a great way to live.” I said this not understanding at the time that living without eating meat in a meat saturated society involves a change not only in what you prepare for dinner; but it involves a change of lifestyle. The years passed and one of my daughters, Uyime, became a vegetarian by circumstance. It seemed that whenever she ate meat, she had unbearably painful menstrual cramps. It didn’t matter if the meat was organic or non-organic: she couldn’t eat meat period. I looked at her with pity because she also couldn’t eat sugar without getting terrible headaches. So I began my journey of buying the meat substitutes which had come on the scene and through much technological advances had become very tasty. I supported and sympathized with my daughter, but not enough to go on this journey with her; after all hadn’t I tried going meatless before and gave it up because I just couldn’t find enough to eat without being hungry.
Menopause came and went. I missed all those great hormones that kept my heart healthy, and regulated my thyroid and a ton of other functions. What I hated most about menopause was the fat that you gained in the places you didn’t know existed. My older sister who had stopped eating meat for years said to me over lunch, “Joan we weren’t meant to eat animals, they have the same hormones and body organs as we do.” Somehow, I’d never looked at it that way, and I’d never cared either. However, I’d begun to crave sugar more than usual and I thought, “what can I do to stop eating all the sugar and cravings?” I read before and also knew that if I could give up meat, it would be easier to give up sugar: for some reason meat and sugar seemed to feed off each other. Maybe because they are opposites. Well, I knew what a horror story sugar is in the body, so I said I will do anything to stop eating it. Slowly and with great determination I looked at the last package of meat I’d bought and said, “when this finishes I’m finished with eating meat.” It turned out to be so. I’ve had my hungry moments, and have heard stories of people who stopped being vegan and vegetarian to eat meat for various reasons. However, nothing has moved me to want to go back to eating meat. It’s taken me too long to arrive here.
THE BENEFITS I’VE GAINED SINCE I ELIMINATED MEAT AND DAIRY PRODUCTS
- My stomach has begun to shrink and feel less bloated.
- Sinus congestion and inflammation has ceased.
- The cravings for sugar are becoming less, and as I thought, as I gave up the meat, the consumption of sugar has become less.
- The pains in my lower leg and the symptoms of gout are lessening and becoming non-existent.
- The pains in the bottom of the feet have ceased.
- Overall craving for foods that aren’t good for me have been curbed.