There are many reasons why someone should overthink their eating habits. There are even more reasons why everyone should overthink their consumption behaviour in general, but on that maybe later.
Food has always had a huge impact on me as far as I can remember, however, it took me years to realise how sensitive I truly was. I won't blame my mum, I am certain she always tried to make food fun and healthy, but still, there was always meat, rice, wheat and frozen food involved including lots and lots of dairy products, and a microwave meal everynow and then and her experiments with artificial sweeteners and other things. On top of that I used to feel very anxious to bring food to school, which let to eating the junkfood my peers and I considered "filling". Food certainly wasn't my main priority for many many years, but certainly had great impacts on my mood and health: I suffered from Psoriasis for the greater part of my life since I am 5, bad eye sight, extreme mood swings and grumpy-ness, terrible sleeping patterns and pale skin.
First steps into more conscious eating started when I refused to eat tuna out of cans and artificially sweetend products, the former in regard to the enviroment and the fish industry, the latter because the taste truly is nasty and I don't know which kind of numb taste buds it requires to allow such chemistry into one's body.
I knew very little about being a vegetarian. Living in Mexico 2009/10, with most my friends being vegetarian I naturally adjusted my eating habits to an all-cheese diet, forgetting that my body would need some other vitamins, minerals and proteins, too. I didn't feel well at all, which brought me to see a doctor, who snorted at the sight of my blood results. He said: "you're 21 but your blood looks like the blood of a 70 year old lady". Well, that didn't make me feel particulary well. He recommended to eat liver, something I've never tried before and after I did wouldn't want to do so again. Liver is ew.
I felt that my time to become a vegetarian hasn't come yet, I didn't really grasp the concept of food, eating, health and well-being. Being a vegetarian meant you loved animals more than yourself or you simply didn't liked the taste of meat, and neither applied to me. At least I wasn't completely ignorant anymore, learned my lessons and started to get a grasp of what truly good food meant.
On NYE 2011/2012 I wrote a list of resolutions, including the goal of becoming a vegetarian.
While most of the other goals (do more exercise, better grades etc) slightly vanished into oblivion, it was a heart-issue of mine, to stick my middle finger to the meat and food industry and celebrate some kind of new aquired independence. I didn't plunge into the icecold water, in fact, my meat consumption had been naturally decreasing over the past few months, which led to loads of frozen meat products in my freezer.
I didn't want to be one of "those" veggies, who are difficult at dinner parties, refuse to eat of the same fork as a carnivore or looked at meat-eaters with certain spite. I promised myself that I wouldn't suffer and would give in, in case meat-cravings would come up. Truth is, on New Years Day I had a meatball sub. I also had to prepare all the meat in my freezer, as I felt it would defy any ethics to throw the meat away and therefore completely reject the sanctity of life. However, it was surprisingly easy to become a vegetarian. Basically any meat has meat substitutes. For a carnivore who becomes vegetarian for ideological reasons like me, meat substitutes are helpful and good source of protein, but not necessarily truly good food. In fact, quite the opposite, but I'll talk about that another day.
What I learned being vegetarian is:
- you don't eat naturally better because you're a vegetarian
- you must make research into food if you want to survive
- cleaning your carnivore housemate's cooking utensils (as a favour) is disgusting (something I didn't notice as a carnivore is the stickyness and smell of animals product residue on cooking utensils)
- people will always ask why you refuse to eat meat. Some will give you something like a "blessing" if they find your "argument" coherent enough, others will desperately look to find other health-related flaws in you, others might even feel that you're a radical and be weirdly enough "offended" by your food decisions
I've been offended and praised for being a vegetarian. People have called me dirty hippie, communist or world saviour. It is strange how personal most people take other people's eating habits, but it seems even stranger that upon that they don't start to question and rethink their own eating and consumption behaviour. I became a vegetarian as an experiment on my consumption habits and to see if I can live without meat and yes, it is easy, it feels good and on top of that it makes life very much easier (menu's have usually vegetarian dishes marked with a V and normal restaurants don't have many choices so I usually have my mind made up within 30 seconds after browsing the menu).
Being a vegetarian is only the first step on the path of consciousness which I decided to walk upon a few years back.
Food is not just feeling filled, it is our way of understanding life in a deeper, more holistic manner.