Adding a New Layer of Self


vegie-cowOne of the changes I made months after losing our daughter was in the way I eat. Once I got over the serious depression eating (that mentality of “My child is dead. I can eat whatever the hell I want.”) I realized that I had slipped into being incredibly unhealthy and it needed to change. For myself and my own path back to something resembling happy, to be here as long as I can with hubby and for the future rainbow baby we were/are determined to have.

This desire to eat cleaner was coupled with an awakening awareness of how masses of animals are treated in our food industry. I’ve always described myself as an animal lover, and over the course of several weeks I found a number of Change.org petitions in my inbox asking for stricter regulations and better safety standards for animals on industrial farms. This video in particular upset me and I realized how hypocritical I had been. Why was I choosing to love and protect my cats while eating the carcasses of other animals? It’s true that I can’t and don’t want to keep a cow in my backyard but that doesn’t mean that I want that animal to live a horrid life before being slaughtered.

I still go back and watch that video, to remind myself why I’ve made these decisions and why it’s important to follow through.

So I made the decision to transition into vegetarianism, and maybe eventually veganism. I use the word transition because I’m not up and completely altering our eating habits overnight; I wouldn’t even know how, and I have special dietary concerns. Because I’m anticipating this switch to be long term, I want to ensure that I’m not sabotaging my health, my chances of conceiving again and the health of future babies.

While I haven’t been on this journey very long, hubby has been supportive every step of the way; he wants the same things I want, and his soda addiction notwithstanding, is willing to make the changes necessary. But I’ve been surprised by how others have reacted. This path, which seemed so obvious and reasonable to me when I discovered it, has been greeted with sneers, jabs and borderline hostility. Which stands to some reason; people don’t like change, and they don’t like things they don’t understand. I’ve also realized though that I haven’t been very good at explaining my decision, so even those who were merely curious walked away thinking I was having mental troubles.

So the way I have finally chosen to explain this decision is that I want my eating habits to be cruelty free. Right now that means eating more fruits, veggies and non-animal products, looking for animal by-products like cheese or yogurt that are made from animals that have been treated with respect and kindness, and not eating meat. There are still some grey areas to work out – the biggest question I’ve asked myself is “If I could get cruelty-free meat, say from a local farmer who I could actually speak with and get to know, would I be okay with eating that?” The truth is, I don’t know. And that’s okay. We don’t have to know everything, and sometimes we find our resolve in having to make tough decisions.


And now that I’ve made this decision and I’m walking down this road, I’m curious – how do others label their eating habits? How do you identify?

3 thoughts on “Adding a New Layer of Self

  1. Dawn Ross

    I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your daughter. I can’t even imagine what you’ve been going through. *hugs*

    My husband and I stopped eating beef and pork several years ago and only ate organic chicken and wild caught fish. Last year we went completely vegetarian, though I admit I will still eat wild caught sea food from time to time. It was quite an adjustment. My iron got really low and I was much more tired than the usual tiredness that accompanies my fibromyalgia. But things improved when I realized the cause and started taking iron vitamins. I don’t think I will go vegan. I love eggs and cheese. But I only buy humanely raised organic.

    We’ve had very little negative reactions from people. When my sister threw a party, she made a set of taco meat made from lintels and walnuts just for us. And we got one of our friends to start converting. Des Moines is surprisingly open-minded about vegetarianism. Our stores have a fair amount of vegetarian options and we have a specialty store similar to Whole Foods about a mile from our home. We have a few restaurants nearby with great vegetarian choices and one cafe that is completely vegan.

    If you need any vegetarian recipe ideas, I have lots!

    1. WhitneyCarter

      Thanks, Dawn. It’s been just over a year and even though we’ve mostly found a “new normal” being without a child is never without its challenges.

      Your eating habits are pretty close to what I’m aiming for. I rarely cook or eat beef and pork at this stage, though we do still have chicken dishes on our dinner list. I discovered months ago that I actually love fish, which is a lot of our go-to here lately, though of course those changes don’t address my concerns about animal welfare. How did you figure out that your iron was low? Preventing imbalances is one of the things I’m concerned about.

      Actually I would love to share vegetarian recipes! I know beans make up a good chunk of a veggie-based diet… but I hate ’em. Do you have any recipes that make them edible? Lol

  2. Dani

    Wow, Whitney! Good for you for putting your health first and taking the necessary steps to ensure you feel good about what’s fueling your body.

    Can’t wait to hear more!

    With heart,
    Dani

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