Fashion is the way I introduce myself to the world, every day, without saying anything.

View All

398794_647789492796_2054072258_n
When I was 20, I spent my summer at the dog park in Union Square. I was interning for the summer at a theater, living in a windowless room in Astoria and sharing an apartment with a couple with whom I didn’t get along. It was a pretty lonely existence. On my walk to the train, I would stop by the dog park and watch the dogs romp around. Sometimes I would chat with the owners, sometimes I would play with the dogs, but most of the time I would silently observe.

Lonely though it was, that summer was a life-changing one for many reasons, least of all my decision to stop eating meat. When I returned to school that fall, I announced to my friends that I wanted to become a vegetarian. They all laughed in my face, no one believed I could do it (myself included). Truthfully, I had many slip ups. Drunken college evenings would end with a trip to the student union and next thing I knew I would find myself eating a bacon, egg and cheese bagel sandwich (bagel bombs from GQ, as we would call them). My 21st birthday culminated in myself and two friends hurtling down the street toward a McDonald’s, where I had my last cheeseburger ever.

I’m not a traditional vegetarian in any sense (but then again, I guess, who is). In fact, technically I’m a pescatarian, but I don’t use that word. People – and when I say people I’m completely generalizing – are uncomfortable and displeased at best when they find out someone doesn’t eat meat. It’s not, by definition, “normal.” The questions can’t come fast enough. Why? Health reasons? Ethical reasons? And my favorite, “Oh, you eat fish/eggs/milk/cheese? That doesn’t count.”

My response is always the same: I’m a vegetarian because I don’t believe in the way we do it here. “The way” being our inhumane manner of raising and slaughtering animals for consumption, “here” being the US. I like meat, I just don’t eat it. If I had the guts to kill it myself, I would. Do you see how this drives people up a wall? Even typing it out, I know how polarizing it is.

I’m not trying to change anyone but myself. I would love to see my friends and family swear off meat. Heck, I would love to see myself swear off leather goods and eggs, dairy, and fish. I’m not perfect, and this is what I believe. Whenever someone challenges me, I pose the question, “How are you demonstrating your beliefs each day? This is mine, and this is how I practice it.” It doesn’t make people feel any better, but it gives me a respite from the guilt I feel about not being able to fit exactly within the confines of the word vegetarian. And despite people’s opinions, I will keep on keepin’ on with my own definition of the word.

I grew up in a meat lovin’ family, where I would ask my mother nightly over dinner, “Mom? What animal is this?” I’ve always felt connected to animals (sometimes more than people), and all my trips to the dog park that summer shook something loose in me. I haven’t eaten meat in almost 9 years. This post isn’t meant to make you feel guilty, change your mind about your diet, or admonish you if you’ve ever asked the above questions of a vegetarian you know. It’s meant to inspire thought, and if nothing else, a trip to the dog park.

I would love to hear your thoughts – good, bad, or ugly. Feel free to comment or shoot me an email at littleredswell AT gmail DOT com!

 

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
becky
becky
6 years ago

“How are you demonstrating your beliefs each day? This is mine, and this is how I practice it.” — I LOVE this. I think it is perfectly fine to be a little picky about how you choose to practice your beliefs. The “definitions” of vegetarian or even Christian should be flexible for each individual. It’s a personal thing, so you should get to take what you want from it. 🙂

allie
allie
6 years ago
Reply to  becky

I totally agree! Isn’t it funny how we tend to pigeon hole words like that? The word “Christian” freaks me out, but I know and love so many Christians who are religious on their own terms and it’s a beautiful thing. Amen (pun intended)!

Carolyn
Carolyn
6 years ago

I couldn’t agree more. Nothing is black and white, one or the other. Eating habits, religious/political beliefs, sexuality, etc. – there’s a spectrum for everything!

allie
allie
6 years ago
Reply to  Carolyn

Right?? I feel like there could be (if there isn’t already) an entire book about this!

Joe
Joe
6 years ago

Totally agree. People love definitions because they expedite explanation and understanding. But when it comes to defining people, the wider the application, the less accurate the definition. Categorizing people with words doesn’t work. And this is coming from someone who LOVES his dictionary! As everyone on tumblr once said, labels work best for canned goods.

allie
allie
6 years ago
Reply to  Joe

Haha I love this (and I completely agree)!