I saw a post on Facebook today. It went like this:
“I'm in CVS. Guy in line ahead of me knows cashier, but they haven't seen each other in while. He invites her over. "I don't eat meat anymore," she says. "That's OK, I make a mean veggie burger," he replies. "But I do eat chicken and turkey. And fish," she adds, sadly.”
For those of us who have been veggie or vegan for a long time, we all let out a collective groan. UUUUGGGGHHHHH!!! Vegetarians and vegans, by definition, do not eat meat of any kind – no animal meat, no poultry and no fish or shellfish.
But perhaps instead of letting out a collective groan, we should let out a collective cheer! How many of us gave up red meat at some point (I did at age 16), and gave up poultry years later (age 27), eventually giving up fish, and finally dairy and eggs (age 30.) Some have even given up cooked food and become totally raw! I expect for most people, they didn’t go from complete omnivore – eating everything – to complete vegan overnight. There are certainly many who have, but I think many people end up taking baby steps as they come across more and more information, and garner the courage to cut things out.
Today there is so much information on vegetarian, vegan and plant-based diets circulating in the press and on the web. It seems that every day another celebrity or athlete goes vegan, and with their decision, more attention is given in the media on the reasons for such a change. I think that someone who starts on the path to better health and compassion – and begins by giving up red meat, for example – will eventually give up poultry, fish, and possibly dairy and eggs as well, as they come across more and more compelling information. It’s like getting on a roller coaster, then riding to the top, then taking one step over the peak - it’s practically inevitable that they will ride the wave to the end – it just may take a little while to get in the coaster and get it going.
So, when your friends or family come to you and say, “I’ve given up meat, but I’m still going to eat poultry and fish,” don’t feel compelled to lecture them on why they aren’t going far enough. Congratulate them on the change, let them know you are available if they want to take the next step, and then give yourself a little knowing smile – they’ll most likely give up poultry next. It’s inevitable.