Why did you stop eating meat?

“Why did you stop eating meat?” I get this question a lot. A LOT. The short answer is “My body doesn’t want it anymore”. The long answer is…

While traveling I love immersing myself in the culture. One way is to visit local markets — the more local the better. I’ll wander off, away from the main streets, away from the tourists, to find the hole in the wall market that all of the locals are shopping at. I love seeing old grandmas squatting, selling a bag full of a fruit I’ve never seen in my life. I giggle when I pass by a stand of funny gadgets and gizmos next to a stand full of bras next to a stand of honey next to a stand of baskets (somehow those things go together?!). Then, with a strong stomach, I inevitably have to pass through the meat and live stock section…

Once in Sapa, Vietnam, I saw a skinned horse leg on a table for sale. In Hong Kong, I saw a bucket of pigs’ faces hanging out on the floor. A dog/cow/unidentifiable animal on a stick flying through the air on display in Cambodia. But what I saw in India really hit me…

A friend and I were in the North East region of India near Burma. The culture is very different than the rest of India — they are Christian, eat meat (including cow), and for some reason idolize Korean pop stars. One of the states is even matriarchal (yeah!). While waiting for our bus, we passed through a tiny market off the road. The market was smaller than the veggie section at the grocery store. Going down one isle, we saw a group of chickens, standing around outside of their cages, with their feet linked together by rope. Strange. The next stand, a group of frogs, linked together at the waist by a rope. Stand after stand the animals were on display, all linked up, instead of in cages or boxes. The last stand we saw a woman selling nothing. Behind her was a group of cute dogs sleeping together. They all had burlap wrapped around their waists, tied together. Something didn’t feel quite right here. My friend and I stared at the dogs, then stared at each other with the same confusion. Without a word, both of our eyes widened, we screamed and ran out. The dogs were for sale to eat.

That moment made me look into my belief systems and ways of thinking. Why did I have that emotional reaction when I saw dogs for sale as meat, and not the other animals? Because in my mind, dogs were family. And we don’t eat family. On the other hand, I grew up in the city, far away from chickens, goats, cows, horses, and any other animal. There was a huge mental disconnect between the living animal and the roast beef on my plate. I cannot even kill a bug, yet I can eat a pet? I felt scrambled, like my computer system in my brain had to reboot.

After living in India for 6 months, meatless, I completely lost the taste for it. Why I stopped eating meat wasn’t a conscious decision. I didn’t crave or want it anymore. In fact, what I missed the most was fresh salad and chocolate. However, since then (4 years), I have had some health issues. I was losing bone around my teeth, and blood tests show that I had less than ½ the required calcium levels, protein levels, B vitamins… I took supplements, but something in my body wasn’t absorbing these nutrients. I now eat fish once a month, like medicine, and am trying alternative treatments like NAET to see if my body will absorb what it needs. I can’t answer for anyone else what is right for their body or spirit. What I do know is what is right for mine — it is my intention to live for the happiness and well being of all, which is a journey in itself.

(Photos of some friends I met on that trip)

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