I am a lover of all foods… Food is my favourite!
[…And so is teaching yoga, playing guitar, singing, more recently-snowboarding annnd a whole bunch of other things]
People make assumptions- that because I am a practitioner and teacher of yoga, that I am probably vegan.
For years, I considered myself a “recreational” vegetarian, enjoying preparing and eating vegetarian delights.
In 1993, due to an ethical quandary I had in my mind, I decided to become vegetarian and I stayed that way for 8 years.
I was working at the wonderful Upper Crust Cafe in Edmonton as a chef/catering manager/baker/table waiter/counter server. One evening we had mahi-mahi on the menu. My favourite (vegetarian), table server-extraordinaire, Dan came into the kitchen with a cutomer’s query…. “Isn’t mahi-mahi just another name for dolphin?”
WHAT?? THIS COULDN’T POSSIBLY BE TRUE… I LOVE DOLPHINS! DOLPHINS AREN’T FISH, THEY’RE MAMMALS!!!
I kinda lost it… I love dolphins… Eating a dolpin sounded just so unbelievably wrong to me… Akin to murdering a rainbow-filled unicorn for sport. I was so repulsed by the idea that I felt it vicerally… It sounded like cannibalism. I felt sick.
Wise (and seemingly baffled) Dan reminded me with a non-judge-y tone, that cows were (and still are) mammals. and so are sheep… Etc…
I promised myself that at any point in time I craved meat, I would have it. I would trust my body’s wisdom in that regard.
[indeed, 8 years later, 1lb of bacon won me over while pregnant with my 2nd son which opened up the flood-gates to all of the meats. This seemed to be the ‘cure’ for a really unpleasant 1st and 2nd trimester. Interesting to note is that said 2nd son, is vegetarian]
I became vegetarian in the sense that I would no longer eat anything that once had a face. I would continue to eat eggs and dairy.
It was pretty interesting. Remember, this was 20 years ago… In Alberta, Canada. Alberta Beef is a big deal.
This was a time before kids. A time of many dinner parties.
Being a chef was intimidating enough for most folks not to reciprocate, but now that I was vegetarian… Well, that just seem to put folks over the edge of comfort in inviting myself (and my new husband) for dinner. I assured all of our friends that I seriously didn’t care (or judge) what they chose to eat… Really!! They did not need to prepare anything special for me. I did not want to be a pain-in-the-a** dinner guest.
More that happy to pick the meat out and give it to my carnivorous husband, to enjoy everything but the turkey (or whatever the meat was). Seriously, no biggie!
I never wanted to make a big deal of it. I never really spoke about it unless someone asked. Just my personal choice. Yeah, PERSONAL.
What I found happened, repeatedly, was that people felt judged even though I was, sincerely, not judging. It saddened me that our friends would feel the need to defend the way they chose to eat, what they chose to eat. I didn’t care. This was personal. Even when I insisted on it not being a topic of discussion, it would come around to being asked why I was vegetarian. In the beginning, I would tell my my little mahi-mahi story… But after a little while I realized that folks felt judged (even though I wasn’t judging) and soon realized it was better for me to reply with “personal reasons” and quickly change the subject.
It IS personal, isn’t it??
I think with all of the social media we have, all of the ways to share our ideas and preferences – there seems to be less that’s personal. Folks still get all up in arms about diet. Gluten-free, Raw, Vegan, Dairy-Free. Taking it personally, feeling judged, feeling ready to defend their dietary choices.
I think it’s silly.
I think it needs to stop!
Eat and let eat… In peace.
I vote for a return of just enjoying the food of your choice with no judgment. With honouring the food choices of others with out getting weird about it. Without taking the fun out of a dinner party.
My question to folks when inviting them over to share food is “Is there anything DON’T you eat?” and create a menu around that. Enjoying the potential challenge of preparing the most amazing meal I can with the absence of _________. Of honouring my guest(s), without them feeling like they are being a pain-in-the-a** about it.
I now enjoy all of the dietary choices, equally. I appreciate the benefits of : raw, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, ‘Paleo’ and locally raised, meat.
[Not that it’s any of your beeswax…]