20 June 2012

Why I went vegetarian (twice)

I was in high school during the fat-free food craze. My friends ate soft pretzels and TCBY yogurt. My dad loved Snackwell’s cookies and my mom felt healthy because she had switched from Pepsi to Diet Pepsi. I was a petite sub 100-pound girl who played tennis every day and I gave no consideration to what I ate.

During my junior year of high school, my parent’s New Year’s Resolution was to go on a fat-free diet and I went along for the ride. For a month, we mostly ate soup and saltines, and I was just happy to have home cooked meals. After a month, we regrouped and chatted about our experience. My dad loved eating cookies in the name of health, my mom was finished with any dieting and I really liked that I hadn’t eaten any animals. So I continued as a vegetarian.

But I was a bad vegetarian. At McDonald’s I would get a cheeseburger without the burger. Cheese hoagies, pasta with red sauce, pizza, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese were all my staples. After 3 years, I woke up one day craving eggs, a strong craving for something I don’t really like. And it was my mom who said “maybe your body is trying to tell you something.”

So after 3 years as a vegetarian, I stopped and dug into some chicken salad. I enjoyed it, but every time I would eat meat I knew it wasn’t right. I had an internal struggle between eating poorly as a vegetarian and eating poorly as an omnivore. I was also afraid to really consider what I was eating. I would never eat meat on the bone and it was my husband who told me “meat” was “muscle.” Gross, I couldn’t believe it, but what I did I think it was? I was in such denial.

Then at age 32, I prepared the ultimate Thanksgiving turkey. I spent days massaging, salting, stuffing and tying up this poor bird and after that meal I haven’t eaten meat since. I had been intimate with that dead turkey. I felt guilty and to stop eating meat was an easy and logical decision. I was able to keep my distance from dead animals when the meat came shaped as a patty and shrink-wrapped or already cooked, I didn’t even have to touch it. But after preparing a turkey like a professional I couldn’t hide, it was too much, too close. And this time I was able to take charge of my cooking and eating and become a great vegetarian. I’ve taken my love of cooking and have focused it on amazing vegetables. I can now proudly and confidently feed myself and my vegetarian family.

Shana Kurz | Facebook | Website
Denver, CO Shana Kurz is Certified Health Coach (and vegan), who works with women who want to boost their fertility through lifestyle changes. She helps women create a plan for optimal health and fertility and helps them understand how their food choices and lifestyle impact fertility. She leads private coaching sessions, detox programs and reaches thousands of women through her blogs and Facebook page.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/theotherdan