As we get closer to Thanksgiving, it always makes me think about the short-lived time that I was a vegetarian. It was a span of time that lasted about two months during my sophomore year of college, and it culminated right around Thanksgiving. Having no game plan as to how I could make Thanksgiving work in a family of meat-loving people, my vegetarian saga came to an end.
The main reason that I became a vegetarian was because I realized that I could. Sure one of my housemates made me watch this movie called What the Health where they showed a hotdog bun full of cigarettes and said that was what it was like to eat meat. But this imagery in my head seemed a bit ridiculous. I also wish I could say it was for the animals, but nope. What really did it was this really good vegetarian restaurant that I could use with my meal plan. After about a week I realized that I had eaten there for almost every meal, and seeing this habit forge, I thought, “Maybe I could be vegetarian.”
It’s almost like I thought of it like a Snapchat streak, seeing how long I could go. And for those two months I was committed! I’ve heard some people talk about sneaking to eat meat, but that wasn’t me. However if you thought I was being healthy and eating a bunch of vegetables, you’re wrong. I was too busy carb loading. But when it came down to it, my vegetarian diet depended on this one on-campus restaurant. It had some dishes I really enjoyed like hot tofu, veggie burgers, and buffalo cauliflower bowls.
Nonetheless, when I returned home for Thanksgiving break, the glow of my vegetarian diet faded. I no longer had the luxury of having dining staff prepare my meals, and my mom wasn’t catering to my diet either (She even said she wasn’t going to change any of the Thanksgiving dishes which would have kept me from enjoying the greens and dressing!) I tried making my own dishes, and I enjoyed fried tofu nuggets. But I’ll tell you one thing that ruined being a vegetarian for me, and that was me attempting to make a black bean burger. I’ve had some good veggie burgers, but the one I made was lacking in texture, and it felt like I was just eating a bean patty.
And then when I quit…It really had to deal with that FOMO. My sister ended up getting this specialty pizza that I really like (and actually she got it half cheese, half pepperoni which was really nice of her). However I was looking for an out, because I wanted that pepperoni pizza, plus my mom was making my favorite dish that night–salmon croquettes–and there was Thanksgiving around the corner which would have left me eating just mac and cheese and sweet potatoes. So I “accidentally” took a piece with some pepperoni and declared the end to my vegetarian diet.
Did I get some flak from my family? Of course I did, but that Thanksgiving meal was also delicious. Something I realized from this experience was that I got too caught up with the label. Unless you have strong beliefs for your diet choices, you shouldn’t fully deprive yourself. You can make healthy decisions and still have some of your favorite foods. And I know now that there are plenty of vegetarian dishes that I still enjoy eating.