As some of you may know, I don’t eat meat. I guess I wouldn’t classify myself as a real vegetarian, but rather a pescatarian. Long story short is that I cut out red meat at about age 9 after seeing the movie Babe and stopped eating poultry right before my senior year of college after reading Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food” – a more sophisticated piece of work than a movie about talking animals, yet both had the same effect. Go figure.
My cousin Brittany is graduating from Kansas University this weekend. I know this seems like a tangent but just go with it for a minute. Brittany and I have always loved the same foods…and eating in general for that reason…but she’s made fun of me for years for not eating meat. For such a foodie, she would say, I’m really missing out on all the best stuff. I tend to understand where she’s coming from and am a little bashful of my vegetarianism. She does have a good point considering what I hear about steaks and burgers. And this thing called…bacon?
I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got a text from her saying she was thinking about becoming a vegetarian. Was this a prank? A pre-graduation crisis? Or a ploy to become more like her much adored older cousin? Possibly a combination of all three if we’re being honest.
When I started thinking about it, graduating college is a lot like becoming a vegetarian. I mean just think about it. You’re giving up something really substantial in both cases. With graduating you’re giving up a carefree lifestyle and the one time in your life you can enjoy being with your friends at all times without any worries. With vegetarianism you’re giving up something some would call equally important: meat.
In both cases you’re making a sacrifice, but you do get something in return. I mean really in both cases you’re getting some major health benefits. No more drinking every single night. Say goodbye to late night burgers and fries (that one works in both situations I’m pretty sure). But it’s comforting to know all that change can be worth it. Sure, you might be moving on to start a new life with a job, a different city and a whole new set of priorities, but you’ll have the weekends, vacations and reunions to look forward to. You’ll have new challenges (how can you make spaghetti and meatballs vegetarian?), goals (don’t drunk eat. it will result in chicken fingers) and rewards (winning a baking competition? or losing that weight you put on from eating everything in sight when you studied abroad? check!).
Regardless of her final decision, I’m so proud of Brittany for everything she has accomplished. She’s gotten over her chronic snoring and kicking throughout the night (we had many sleepovers as kids. I don’t think I got much sleep), posted mouth-watering photos of homemade meals on Instagram (withholding sassy comment here) and will be a college graduate in just a few days. I’m sure she has many more accomplishments but I will leave those out because I don’t have anything particularly witty to say about them.
Plus, look at all she has to look forward to – no meat included:
Don’t forget about dessert…which is usually vegetarian anyways, as most people can tell from my blog. You can probably have matzo toffee any time of year since your mom is awesome (and open to admitting baking mistakes like the toxic flourless chocolate cake debacle of Passover ’12).
Anyways, whether or not you decide to go meatless is besides the point. The point is that you are now a mature adult, making real, important decisions about your life. It’s scary and exciting at the same time. You know you can always come to me for advice – because clearly I will respond by posting about it on the Internet for all your friends and family to see. And if you ever have another crisis, don’t do anything drastic like cut more foods out of your diet, okay?