For the past decade, I’ve been an off and on (mostly on) pescatarian, eating fish and seafood regularly and meat maybe once a year when a craving hits me. Although I understand environmental justice and animal rights concerns about meat production and meat eating, my not eating meat has nothing to do with social justice. I was raised on a pescatarian diet for the most part (although my parents would occasionally cook meat) and I find I’m more likely to cook and eat healthier meals if I’m following it.
Recently, I went to see a naturopathic doctor about a health issue that I have had for awhile, and will probably have for the rest of my life. Nearing the end of the visit, I was handed a list of foods I can and cannot eat. Among the foods I was strongly encouraged to eat was meat. Since my pescatarian diet is not for any moral reasons and I actually like the taste of most meats, my immediate reaction was that this would be a major lifestyle shift (along with the giving up rice and wheat bread *tear*) but something that I was more than OK doing. However, when I woke up the next morning a hot emotional mess and had conversations with my sister and a couple friends about my new diet, I knew there was something more going on. So far I’ve figured out there were a few major things behind this difficulty:
1. My ego. I like the sound of saying “I don’t eat chicken”. There’s a bit of self-righteousness behind it that comes maybe from subconsciously feeling like I’m on the higher health and moral grounds than someone who does. This diet change has definitely forced me to confront the holier-than-thou shit that flavoured my pescatarian proclamation and I probably have a whole lot of unpacking to do around that over the next few weeks/months/years/lifetimes.
2. My attachment to food. As I prepare to leave Toronto, I’ve been meeting up with friends practically every weeknight. Activities with friends usually centre around food. Trying to find a restaurant that serves meals or trying to cook a meal that my vegan, vegetarian, meat eating but picky friends and I can eat is extremely difficult. Even more than that, I have an emotional attachment to food. Part of my sadness post-naturopath was literally me mourning as though, I’ve lost (part of) myself. Which brings me into the next issue of –
3. Attachment to labels. In conversation with one of my friends about something completely unrelated he said something that resonated with me. He saidwhen we are really young children who don’t yet understand or use words (at least the words that adults use), we do what we want – who we are is not some big overarching concept that is separate from what we are doing or feeling in a given moment. We don’t (necessarily) yet know what boys or girls or people with curly hair or pieces2peaces don’t do – we are completely ourselves in every moment, not holding back something because it does not fit with who we say we are. That blew my mind. I’m not sure if I did his idea justice with my rough paraphrasing/reimagining or if I’m just simple and that’s not new for anyone else but it really helped me understand some of my issues. Doing something outside of who I said I am (a pescatarian) is really difficult. Having to speak about myself differently, even in a way that might seem so minute, is challenging. In a way I’m not just mourning food and mourning the nuffness of saying “I don’t eat chicken” but I’m also mourning the words themselves.
Stirrers of Monday fyah, am I making sense? How do you think you would handle something like this?