I guess it’s true what they say. No matter how much you think you have control over things, in the end you can’t be sure what the future holds. We embrace on to imaginative ideas about who we are and what we will become, but the truth is, we can’t even imagine the ways in which we are changing.
I can tell you one thing, Vegetarian is the last thing I thought I would become. Where I come from, meat or non-veg is the norm, strongly rooted in the culture. It is not only that we eat some meat, infact, meat or fish is in almost every dish; it is there for lunch, and for dinner, usually everyday! But after a few days in the ashram in Rishikesh in January 2015, becoming a vegetarian suddenly appeared to be the only option. Without any effort, I happily and gracefully turned my back on 29 years of eating animals.
In the time that followed, few things happened, both internally and externally, and I want to take the time to share that with you, in case you decide to make a change too; Here’s what:
People Will Think You Are Crazy
For me, changing to a veg-only diet turned out to be rather easy and somewhat even exciting. It felt like I had made an important decision that I have never doubted since even for a second.
It seemed though that people close to me were having more difficulty when they heard about my decision. While in India, when you tell someone you’re a vegetarian, they feel sorry for you, as if you’re missing on something, flavour-wise. In the West though, and France most particularly, people cannot stop thinking that your health will be in danger without all that animal fat and protein. A close friend of mine in fact repeatedly expresses great concern while he himself eats a very unhealthy, fiber-free, carbs-only diet and on top of that smokes all day long! That is ironic.
Lesson learnt: those who are the unhealthiest ones will be the first to warn you. Don’t listen to them.
Also when you tell people you don’t eat meat anymore, they picture you eating exactly the same diet as them, only without the meat. But what people don’t know is that the reason why you turned vegetarian in the first place is to protect all living beings from suffering, but that includes you! So that means taking extra care when deciding what will be there on the table; and that includes avoiding things like refined flour and sugar, getting fully packed with lots of fibers from fresh fruits and vegetables, and creating an overall healthier routine.
You Will Feel Much Better
Some people may feel sorry for you, but let me tell you something, you won’t! Ever since I have made that decision I feel great. Aside from the obvious change that happened like feeling lighter and more energetic, something else happened which is much more subtle. I feel like I am more true to myself. All my life I have been repeating how much I love animals; all of them, and yet I somehow believed, for various reasons, that eating meat is just the way things are. I think I just didn’t want to think about it. When meat is so easily accessible in mass distribution, nicely prepared and wrapped in beautifully markteted packaging, you come to forget that your short time of pleasure ultimately cost the life of an innocent living being. So yeah, now when I say I love animals I feel less of a hypocrite.
Stepping Stone to Becoming A Better Human Being
Making the decision not to eat animals is part of a much wider cause, all of which will participate in making you a better human being. Personally my whole perspective on life has changed ever since I turned to Yoga and vegetarianism. Meat is one thing, but I’m also getting more and more repulsed by this whole financially oriented mass-market products. I want to go back to what is essential, to what makes me feel good, not this short-term feel good effect that leaves me feeling worse the next day, but the one that lasts.
Being Yourself Is Not Easy
We‘ve all heard that we should be ourselves in life, whether people like it or not. Everybody knows that, at least in theory. What I’ve come to realise is that being yourself becomes most challenging specifically with the people closest to you (more about this in my next post!); What I’ve come to realise is that your family and closest friends don’t want you to change.
To me they keep asking during meals if I’m sure I don’t want to try this or that non-veg dish, as if any second now I’m going to change my mind. They behave as if this is only a phase. The truth is that I can’t blame them, I used to be exactly the same! In the end even if we care about each other, ignorance comes into play. The only thing to do is to sit quietly and patiently, rather than justify your decision. In time, they’ll too come around.