Although he didn't say anything at first, I could tell from his body language and facial expressions that he was anything but happy. Being the mainstream person I was, I was unaware, so I didn't grab a clue. He was very gentle, but firm and emotional in the way he expressed his disdain for my eating habits. After several bites and somewhat enjoying my meal, somehow, I no longer had an appetite for what I was eating. In fact, for the first time in my life, I was repulsed by it. Growing up with a meat and potatoes fast food and convenience food type mentality, I was suddenly very confused and felt emotionally vulnerable. I didn't know what to do.
For the first time in my life, I was with a special loving friend who appeared to be more enlightened than I was. He was exposed to information and lifestyles that I never knew about. At the end of the meal, he explained the importance of a meatless diet and explained that there were people all over the world who were vegetarian for many reasons. I felt lost, confused and weird. I also felt grateful for the knowledge he was giving me. Then he said something that scared me, but made me think. He expressed that he'd been off of red meat for years now and wanted to be with someone who cared about their health and the animals. He felt very uncomfortable with my carnivorous ways and made it very clear in a gentle firm way that he didn't want to see me again if I continued this way of eating. At first, I thought he was pretentious and audacious for saying this. But then I took a step back, looked at the situation objectively, and realized he was doing me a big favor and had a good heart. Here was a wonderful person who was kind, intelligent, very cute, who cared about me and was attracted to me. He wasn't telling me to cut my hair, change my appearance, or change my personality. He was simply asking me to give up the meat.
I tried it for a week and wow, I felt great! I didn't feel ill, tired, or sick. In fact, I felt wonderful and glad to be alive! That was it! That date with him and that week of going meatless changed the course of my life. My family was less than thrilled, but that didn't matter to me. All that mattered was that I was going out with a sensible intelligent person who loved and cared about me and wanted me to be healthy; what a crime. After that, it wasn't terribly difficult to go completely vegetarian and then, vegan. It's opened up my world to a whole new way of eating and thinking and today I can't even conceive of another way of living!
Unfortunately, this new found decision somehow began to complicate my life, instead of making it simpler. I had hoped for some support or a reaction of pleasant surprise when I announced my decision to my Mother and grandmother. Instead, they looked at me as though I had lost mind and expressed their chagrin. First, my grandmother asked me if I was serious and stated that young little girls like me needed their protein and would become weak and frail if they didn't eat their meat. They both asked me if it was because my new boyfriend had suggested it. Although I told them he had influenced my decision, I assured them that I made the decision on my own volition.
There were incidents at work and even more incidents with my family. I'm sorry to say my journey to this point of my life has not been easy, but I haven't allowed any comments or criticisms to deter me. I've tried many times to help my family understand, but I have given up on the idea and decided to accept it and let it go. Today, I am healthier and more vibrant than I've ever been. As of this moment, have not had to visit a physician. Little did I know that a few years later, the next step I would take would be to go vegan and today, my dear husband and I have been vegan for 23 years. My hope is that more people will wake up and realize the truth that the media doesn't want revealed. Until then, turn off your television, listen to something uplifting and meaningful and read!