MY JOURNEY TOWARD BECOMING A VEGETARIAN

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

  1. My stomach has begun to shrink and feel less bloated.
  2. Sinus congestion and inflammation has ceased.
  3. The cravings for sugar are becoming less, and as I thought, as I gave up the meat, the consumption of sugar has become less.
  4. The pains in my lower leg and the symptoms of gout are lessening and becoming non-existent.
  5. The pains in the bottom of the feet have ceased.
  6. Overall craving for foods that aren’t good for me have been curbed.

WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT SEXUAL ABSTINENCE

The relevance of sexual abstinence is more meaningful than ever.

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First I want to say there is a difference between celibacy and abstaining from sexual relations. Celibacy is usually a lifestyle where people do not engage in sexual relations because of religious reasons and a certain calling on their life to abstain. Abstinence from sexual intercourse can also be for religious reasons, but it generally isn’t because a person feels called to abstain from sex throughout their lives: it usually is because they abstain until they meet and marry the person they feel God has chosen for them to share their lives with.  I want to share what I have learned about abstaining from sexual intercourse because I feel it may help others who struggle with choosing this as a lifestyle until they marry.

  1. God is ever-present with you and knows the difficulty of your choice and is there to comfort you. Sometimes we may feel that because Jesus Christ…

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WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT SEXUAL ABSTINENCE

First I want to say there is a difference between celibacy and abstaining from sexual relations. Celibacy is usually a lifestyle where people do not engage in sexual relations because of religious reasons and a certain calling on their life to abstain. Abstinence from sexual intercourse can also be for religious reasons, but it generally isn’t because a person feels called to abstain from sex throughout their lives: it usually is because they abstain until they meet and marry the person they feel God has chosen for them to share their lives with.  I want to share what I have learned about abstaining from sexual intercourse because I feel it may help others who struggle with choosing this as a lifestyle until they marry.

  1. God is ever-present with you and knows the difficulty of your choice and is there to comfort you. Sometimes we may feel that because Jesus Christ was God, that he can’t possibly understand what we are feeling. Jesus was all man and all God. It says in Hebrews that he knows our weaknesses and infirmities and understands them all. God created us and he created us with the desire to be with the opposite sex; he understands better than anyone what it feels like and what it means to a man and woman to be united, sexually.
  2. Abstaining from sexual relations until marriage guards and protects our emotions. I know this has been said numerous times, but there is an assurance that we have when our mind, soul, and bodies are in God’s hands and subjection. We have the knowledge that no matter how  relationships go, God is honoring my devotion to him and the entirety of my being is covered. There is a peace that comes from knowing that I’m  not dishonoring my body and God honors that. Hebrews says that “Marriage is honorable..” This means that it is good, whole, righteous, and that the sexual act within marriage is pure, not defiled or dirty.
  3. When you are filled with God’s spirit, a sexual relationship outside of God’s covenant  of marriage is grievous.  I learned this when I was in a sexual relationship and not married. I thought that because we loved each other, and we were faithful to each other that God would somehow overlook the fact that we weren’t married. God never overlooks, sidesteps, or walks around his word and the truth of his word. No matter how much God loves you; he doesn’t love you enough to make any exception for you and your situation. For him to do so, for God to go back on his word in any instance he would cease to be God. Also while in this relationship, I began to feel myself becoming distant from the things of God: this means that I couldn’t listen to someone preaching God’s word, I couldn’t read my Bible or pray. My conscience was being violated, because I was breaking one of God’s principles, and I was in a sinful situation that was causing me to be separated from God.
  4. Even though I tried to justify sexual relations outside of the marriage covenant, the Holy Spirit in me never gave me peace about it: also I didn’t know it at the time, but I was cutting myself off from the blessings of God: in this present life and the eternal ones.  It’s true that those who play house, never get the real house. When we settle for less than God’s plan, we cut ourselves off from the very thing it is that we want. Also, settling for someone who is unwilling to marry you, could be standing in the way of someone who would be willing and able to make a holy committment to you. Abstaining from sexual relations shouldn’t be something you do seeking a reward or a husband; it should be something you do because it is right. The man who I was with wasn’t just unwilling to marry me, he was using me to satisfy his own selfish and self-centered needs, whether he realized it or not. And this fact alone was enough for my heavenly father to want to protect me from such manipulation.
  5. I was sinning against my own body. In twenty-four years of marriage and living with a man who was consistently unfaithful to me, I never contracted any sexually transmitted disease (other than a yeast infection): however, in the span of two years, I contracted a virus  that placed me at risk of developing cancer. Also, in the two years I was sleeping with this man, I was always sick with some type of persistent cold or bronchitis. When I stopped sleeping with him, I still have colds, but the persistence of  sickness  isn’t there.
  6. Sexual immorality in the form of fornication continually opens the door for sexual obsession or even possession by sexual demonic spirits. What most people fail to realize is that sexual sin, is sexual sin. When we knowingly disobey God’s word and sometimes unknowingly, we open the door to a flood of demonic influence from whatever demonic powers that are out there. When we have the power to control our desires and inclinations and choose not to do it, we open ourselves up to things that we don’t have control over. Nothing is worse than feeling you don’t have control over your sexual desires; when something else comes that has power over you. This is where sexual deviation comes from in the form of child molestation, rape, bestiality, homosexuality, and the list goes on.
  7. When you don’t have your sexual desires and feelings under control, there is some element of emotional immaturity. I realized that I desperately wanted love and intimacy with a man, and I did so at the expense of my relationship and peace with God. After traveling through the maze of loss of self-esteem, loss of peace, and a general feeling that I’m doing something wrong, I began to so value the lost elements of my personality that I felt no temporary attention a man could give me was worth losing my self-respect: and my friend, that is personal growth and emotional maturity. I allowed myself to be manipulated as a child, to obtain something that I felt I couldn’t live without. Emotionally mature people are able to delay self-gratification for something much better that is long-term.  There are sixty year-old people who are still immature emotionally. Age has little to do with how mature someone is emotionally.
  8. Lastly, waiting for the commitment you want in marriage is taking the moral high-ground. People who compromise themselves sexually will eventually compromise themselves in other things also. Taking the moral high ground says to yourself, and to others, “I am worth the very best that is available.” It says that even if I have to live the rest of my life alone, it is better than being with someone who de-values me, or gives me less than what I want, need, and deserve.