The True Struggle of Not Eating Meat

Five years ago, I chose to give up eating meat with the chance to really expand my culinary horizons and introduce my palate to something new. Instead of chicken, steak and pork, I switched to salmon, crab and mussels. Looking back on it now it still amazes me how much I have learned about nutrition, health and wellness through this experience. Along with feeling healthier because I wasn’t consuming as much fat and junk food as before, I came across some negatives as well. Not everyone will just let you eat the way you want to without you hearing their opinions first. To let you understand the true meat-less experience I will indulge you in some of the most common things I have been asked on my culinary journey from land to sea.

ratatouille

Do you ever miss chicken?

At first, I would answer this question seriously as “No, it has been so long that I don’t even remember what chicken tastes like,” but then I started to realize that even after hearing these words people still try to convince me I have made a huge mistake anyway. What starts as a question usually morphs into a rant about why I should change because it just isn’t something they could ever do themselves. I chose this lifestyle to approach eating right from a different point of view and I think that if more people tried to give up meat they would understand where I’m coming from.

Wait, so you’re not a vegan?

I have been asked this question so many times that I was tempted to start printing out laminated notecards with my answer just so I wouldn’t have to repeat myself all the time. Meat-eaters, pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans are only the same in the sense that they all have something to do with diets and food. Besides that, they are not interchangeable, and each is unique in its own way. Me being a pescatarian, I don’t eat red meat, chicken or pork. I stick to shellfish and seafood. Vegans, on the other hand, don’t consume any animal products and have more characteristics and restrictions because they’re based on values and beliefs different from those of pescatarians.

vegetables

Do you ever feel like it’s a burden?

I’m not going to pretend that making dinner plans at a friend’s house is ever fun in the first place. The pressure to not be rude and order what you want so you opt for the cheaper or smaller option always lingers. Only when you’re truly comfortable are you able to order the pizza and a side of fries with your order. Now imagine having no real fast food options to choose from and everyone else has to comply with your specific voluntary diet restrictions. You can catch me apologizing every time because I know that you really wanted to go to Chick-fil-a, but my diet isn’t letting us go. Like I said, sometimes it’s shameful.

What’s the most rewarding part of it?

Not everyone has what it takes to be a pescatarian. It takes time, patience, determination and consistency to fully maintain this lifestyle. You have to constantly pay attention to what you eat, plan your meals ahead of time and cook more often even when you feel your laziest. It was hard at first, but it taught me to be a better cook, set bigger goals, be more health-conscious and stand by my beliefs even if it wasn’t the popular opinion.

woman eating

I think at the end of the day, being comfortable living your best life and not being influenced by the status quo is the ultimate goal that everyone should strive for. My being a pescatarian is just one way I’m trying to embrace that.

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