Our home monastery, Buddha Mind, asked me to put together a speech to present during lunchtime at their 2015 Veggie Festival. The veggie event was a lot of fun and an overall success with right around 250 attendees, and lots of great feedback. Read more about the Veggie Fest in my other post, NewsOK (The Oklahoman) quoted me, neat!.
My experience as a vegetarian
“Both my parents were raised vegetarian, but I was not – I was raised on a hybrid diet of eating actual meat and also vegetarian meats. So when I was 12, and my dad decided to become a vegetarian once again, I decided to jump on board with his idea. Today, I am 28 and have been a vegetarian for 15 years. The last 2 years, due largely to my Buddhist practice, I have developed a 70% vegan diet.
Being a vegetarian has become easier through the years, for instance if I am going to a big event like a wedding, or company get-together, I know to eat just enough before the event to tie me over in case there is nothing for me to eat there, which is common; although sometimes there are side dishes like salad, fruit and or mashed potatoes I can dig into. When going out to eat, I can pretty much eat anywhere! If a dish has meat, I simply ask to replace the meat with something else or just remove it – I love Mexican food, a good example of the replacement request is replacing the meat with beans in a taco salad. Yummy!
Also through the years, people ask questions…. So many questions. Like…
| “But WHY are you a vegetarian, meat is so good!”
| “Where do you get your protein?”
| “So you’re a vegetarian, you eat fish and chicken, right?
| “How do you stay healthy?”
Or…the friends who try and trick you into eating meat… they are trying to be funny, but due to this happening so many times in 15 years to me, I can spot a dot of meat in my food a mile away.
The short and long of this is…
Today I am a vegetarian because I realize that:
It is not necessary in today’s civilization where I live to eat a living breathing creative. I get my protein and other nutritional essentials from plants, pastas, vegetables and fruit. I am a half-marathon runner and when training I intake roughly 65 grams of protein a day, 40 of those grams are from a plant-based protein, no soy, no whey. With that said, I can run 13.1 miles just fine, and yes, I consider myself healthy.
The human body can eat and digest lots of things. It can, for example, chew up and digest other humans. It can also eat animals while those animals are still alive. In most cases, we refrain from doing these things. Why? Because “civilization” means recognizing that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we must do something. Not all traditions are required to continue in practice.
I have friends who are strict vegans, and raise their children on a strict vegan diet. I used to say the same thing to them that non-vegetarians might say to me – it is not healthy, you are not getting all your vitamins… the simple fact is, I was not well informed.
I, my daughter and my husband are all vegetarians and work toward a full vegan diet. My daughter is an athlete, a young accomplished gymnast and quit healthy – with that said however, from a little baby, she had severe eczema and we found that her worst flare ups came after drinking homogenized milk, or cow’s milk. From about 1 year old she was limited to drinking almond and soy milk. It turned out there is a bacteria in cow’s milk that caused her eczema to just overtake her skin. It was painful for her and also for me to watch.
So just to sum up, I feel being a vegan and or vegetarian is a far more compassionate way eat, and can also alleviate many sufferings of poor health. So, that is my story and my take on going meatless, thanks for listening everyone.”