10 Years of Vegetarianism & My Journey

21 June 2018

Ten years ago, June 2008: I was a thirteen-year-old living in Hawaii, about to start high school. My family and I had just finished our Sunday tradition of eating dim sum and were taking a leisurely stroll through Chinatown. We passed through the marketplace and I turned and saw what would have quite the dramatic impact--an entire pig's head upon a platter, up for sale. It was this poignant moment that I said to myself, "Yep. It's time. I'm going to stop eating meat."

Becoming a vegetarian had always piqued my interest, due to my life-long love of animals and my obsession with Degrassi, where Emma, a vegetarian character, seemed super cool to me (don't worry, I've grown up now and know that Emma objectively sucks). Aside from this, I was also about to embark on a new chapter in my life, my four-year-long commitment to an all-girls Catholic college preparatory academy. It seemed like the appropriate time for a new start.

Now growing up on an island, being a pescatarian is a much more feasible option than eliminating all meats, as we have an influx of tropical fish quite literally surrounding us in the ocean. At the time, I hadn't even heard of the term "pescatarian", and just used "vegetarian", emphasising that I don't eat any land animals. I was able to hold onto this commitment throughout the entirety of high school, aside from the occasional In n' Out Burger on our annual visit to California (I didn't know about the secret grilled cheese menu item at the time! Highly recommend, tastes exactly the same as a normal cheeseburger there, in my opinion).

Once I started preparing for the move to San Francisco for university, I was coming to the realisation that I would be living in CALIFORNIA. I'd be surrounded by In n' Out Burgers (not true at all, there is only one in San Francisco, nowhere near where I lived or went to school)!! It was at this time, in the summer of 2012, that I decided to try and transition back into being a meat eater, for convenience sake. It also gave me more options for my eventual dorm cafeteria food diet. At this point, I had no knowledge of the effect that not eating meat for four years and then attempting to would have on my body. Let's just say that I may have ordered a bacon cheeseburger from Burger King as my first transition meal and that... didn't end well. Picture me, screaming in agony on the couch, not sure if I was going to throw up, die, or both.

That wasn't my most glamorous moment, but the following few semesters in college weren't much different. I didn't eat meat very often, but I just had this overwhelming feeling of "unwellness" for my first two years. Aside from my usual chronic migraines, I was nauseous Every. Single. Day. Sure, this could have been my body adjusting to different medications every once in a while as well as my first experiences with birth control, but the only time I felt even the slightest bit better was when I cut out meat entirely. And this time, I was going to do it right.

Yet another transitional period in my life (I'm sensing a theme here), I had just gotten out of my two-year relationship with my college sweetheart, and I decided to cut all meat out completely, including fish (which I still miss dearly, but have found a fishless alternative!). It has now been four years since this decision, and I have never once looked back.

Now, I'm sure some of you will invalidate my experience as "not vegetarian for 10 years" because of my break and all that--and that's fine with me. There are plenty of people who set rules for their identity and diet in relation to what you're allowed to call yourself etc. but I try my best not to live that way and allow people to identify with whichever community they deem fit. It was ten years ago that I made the decision to be a vegetarian, and aside from a small break for convenience, I don't regret this decision in the slightest.

The most frequent question a vegetarian receives is, "Don't you miss meat?" to which I very confidently can answer, "Nope!" I think the biggest anxiety a person considering vegetarianism is the freedom that comes with being able to eat whatever they want, but I can assure you that nagging craving does completely go away eventually--and if you can believe it, it even, with time, transforms into repulsion. Although I do, on occasion, smell an intoxicating bacon-wrapped hot dog grilling on the streets of San Francisco and think for one millisecond, "God, that'd be good right now," I then remember how sick I'd be and instantly associate the meat with nausea. It's an adapted mentality, but it will come even quicker if you do go a while without meat and try and eat it again (a tactic I do not recommend).

So you've made 10 years, what's next? I told myself some time ago that when I made 10 years as a vegetarian I would begin the transition into veganism, and that's precisely what I've started this month! I'll go into detail about why and how I'm doing that in a future post (or video!).

Are you vegetarian/vegan? How long have you been committed to this? I'd love to hear your stories!

x, Sarah

  • blouse: vintage
  • jeans: gap
  • shoes: crossroads (capitol hill)
  • bandana: vintage (thanks, mama!)
  • sunnies: ray-bans
  • handbag: vintage
  • lip: glossier generation g in "zip"

*Photos by Ranier

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