Back in high school, my Mother was like the Iron Chef of the South… migrated way up north to the mid-west. She was always cooking. Baked ribs, fried pork chops and applesauce, fried chicken, steaks, roast beef, corned beef, cornish hen, polish boys.. It was seriously meat overload.
As a junior in high school, out of nowhere, I just opted to stop. I couldn’t take it any more. I decided to become a vegetarian. Of course, my Mom wasn’t havin’ that, so she [spitefully] went into meat overload. Everything had meat in it. It seriously was the pork-flavored broccoli episode all over again. If left up to my mother, I wouldn’t be eating squat.
I had to come up with a plan. Something that would allow me to move toward eating healthier, and becoming more able to control my eating habits. I needed an answer. For crying out loud, she was putting bacon grease in the corn! I needed SOMETHING! (My Mom is a gangsta. My impending vegetarianism was like a new gang moving in on her turf. After too long, I started to expect a horse head in the bed.)
So, here’s what I did.
I chose one day out of the week where I chose to not eat meat. This gave me the chance to prepare for that one week …every week. I’d know this day was coming. I could mentally prepare for it. If I knew my mother was cooking that day, I’d try to find a healthier alternative that couldn’t interfere with her throw-down session.
From one day a week, I went to two days a week. Tuesday and Thursday (the days Mom was least likely to cook), I’d skip meat. I went from Tuesday and Thursday, to Saturday and Sunday. I skipped meat on the weekends. This taught me how to get used to consecutive days without eating meat.
From two days, I went to 3 – Monday, Wednesday, Friday. No meat.
From there? I went straight to only eating meat on the weekends. I was used to consecutive days without meat, and was now used to regular week days without meat. It was getting easier, and I became more used to simply not indulging in Mom’s good stuff. She also started to respect my eating habits more, and began setting aside little bits of dishes for me before she added the meat. It started to feel more natural.
After a while, meat was no longer a major issue for me. Only allowing myself to enjoy it on the weekends gave me the reason I needed to really just forget about it altogether. Meat became a treat – something to enjoy only when I dined at a restaurant. Eventually college arrived, and since everyone hits broke-college-kid status, I stopped dining out.
As I’ve said before, I’m a full-time believer in natural progression. I don’t think that lifestyle changes – the kind that produce healthy results and are long-lasting – can happen overnight. Specifically, when you’re talking about things that will affect habits that you’ve had your entire life, you can’t possibly expect to change that overnight. Just don’t do it to yourself.
Vegetarianism, much like any other dietary restriction, requires patience. Be patient with yourself when enacting a new plan. You deserve that much.