Growing up vegetarian


Credit: Edible Experiments

Growing up, this was by far one of the most common questions asked to me whenever someone found out I was vegetarian. It wasn’t my choice if we are going to be truthful about it.

The story begins when I was born. No, seriously. From the day I was born, I was a vegetarian. My mother had decided when my siblings and I were born that we would never eat meat, which isn’t that unusual in this decade, but sure was unusual back in the mid-90s. As far as I know, it was a real rarity back in those days; it wasn’t historically popular either.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that being a vegetarianism wasn’t a normal diet. I never got made fun of for it in school, or any other social occasion, luckily, but I have constantly felt curiosity for other people. It was kind of annoying honestly. I’ve had so many in-depth conversations about how and why I was vegetarian and all I could think was: Why is this so fascinating? I’m just a person who happens to eat slightly differently than everyone else. Of course, I never actually said that out loud. Even if I did, the questions would still be endless.

Going out to eat was also somewhat of a challenge, but in California, it is far easier to be on meatless diets than, say, Montana. I remember visiting the state and looking at the menu where 99% of the food there was all meat. I had to settle for garlic bread. Same goes for most non-west or east coast states, really.

It was also difficult for other people to cook for me because they would constantly worry about whether or not I could eat something. It’s not like I’m going to have an allergic reaction, I would say. I guess I was lucky enough to have people care because, in some circles, they dismiss meatless diets as fads and don’t really try to understand why you are going vegetarian or vegan.

As I got older, I realized that I no longer need to have a meatless diet if I chose not to. However, the issue is that I’ve been doing it for so long that meat actually makes me sick if I eat it. It’s like how people who go vegan after eating meat their entire life can’t live without it.

Overall, I can’t say it was a real struggle to be vegetarian growing up, mainly because I had a great support system in my family (even though my dad wasn’t vegetarian). When I was younger, my mother explained to me all of the health benefits of a meatless diet. Though I definitely was impressionable then, what she said has stuck with me to adulthood.

In fact, I have also become vegan in the past year, as I wanted to see the benefits of having no animal-based products whatsoever. It’s turned out pretty well, but I could never have hoped to attempt it if I hadn’t been vegetarian for so long. Hopefully, this means that for those of you who want to be vegan, just be vegetarian for a year or so and then go vegan. I encourage you all to try!

Reed McCoy can be reached at [email protected] or @ReedMcCoy6 on Twitter.