I’ve been a vegetarian for just over a year now, and I honestly couldn’t be happier. Gone are the days when I gazed upon others’ meat-filled plates and sighed longingly. The slightly more difficult task, which I’m also one year out from, was giving up micro-brewed beer, which is plentiful around these parts. Plus, let’s face it, beer-tasting is much more fun and less pretentious than wine-tasting. That’s just a fact.
Alas, when I was handed a bizarre medical diagnosis last year, I was forced to re-examine my already lean diet and fairly rigorous exercise routine. My only option for avoiding another outbreak of gout was to make more cuts — a phrase that the U.S. economy is all to familiar with these days.
For about a day, I felt bewildered, frustrated, confused that I had been diagnosed with a chronic issue that is most prominent in obese older men (though it’s growing in lower socio-economic group, as the level of obesity rises.) Then, I saw opportunity. I cut out drinking. I cut back on breads and sweets. I got stronger, leaner, happier, more confident.
I’ve learned to make life choices based on what’s best for me, and I try not to worry about what others have. It’s not easy. Society pushes us to want, to think we need the most tantalizing food and the best gadgets and the newest clothes. Once I had mentally given myself a medical excuse to pass on the loaded fries that I didn’t really want, even though they were ordered for the table, or ordered a diet root beer in lieu of the pitcher of beer everyone was chipping in on, I felt oddly liberated. I had freed myself from the shackles of what I thought society — friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances — expected me to do, or be. And I started listening to me.
My meat-loving Future Husband could not be more supportive of my lifestyle change. We find restaurants that accommodate both of our diets, which has been increasingly easy to do as vegetarians become more mainstream. We were told it’s not an option, but a necessity, to include a vegetarian option on the wedding menu, which I love. We’re learning to cook vegetarian meals together — he cooked me two amazing dishes on Labor Day — and he’s even trying out more vegetarian options rather than defaulted to meat-based meals when I’m not around. Now that’s love.
I already have a 10K behind me and I’m gearing up for the George Eastman House Photo Finish 5K to support NextGen Rochester, an awesome group of Rochester young professionals who provide grant money for local nonprofits. (Well now that I’ve mentioned it, I might as well link to my fundraising page, right? *Wink wink, nudge nudge.*) I love that what with an active lifestyle (trust me, I hate that phrase too, but I’ll concede to it for description’s sake), I can sign up for things like charity 5K races without giving it much forethought or putting much extra training into it. It’s a good point in life to be at, and I hope I can manage to stick with it. (Take note, future self.)
And so, I can’t think of a more appropriate ending to this post than to leave you with the famous (and probably over-quoted, but appropriate nonetheless) words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need…Aw, yeah.”