*Trigger warning- disordered eating*
I am a woman of phases in my life. I go through phases of being obsessed with certain bands (nobody remind me of my undying obsession with the Jonas Brothers, please) – obsessions with authors, obsessions with films, art, ideas and creative ebb and flow. However, the most predominant thing that I swing between in my life, is whether I am vegetarian or not.
I first went vegetarian at 16 years old. As a child of a family who is very much from the ‘meat and two veg’ variety- eating meat was just part of my identity. I didn’t question it because it was something that I had grown up with. I didn’t understand the ethics behind the meat and dairy industries- and also, let’s just say this upfront- I really love the taste of it. I would come home every day from school and my mum would prepare delicious meat filled meals- that I would happily scoff down without a care in the world.
However, at 16 years old I was starting to shape my own identity. I was too young to rebel and get a tattoo like I actually wanted- and I was also obsessed with the concept of losing weight, so I decided to cut out meat and fish. I literally went (pardon the pun) cold turkey overnight- and decided that meat was murder and there were no two ways about it. That was what I told everyone anyway. I think in actual fact I had read in a teenage fiction book that someone had lost weight going veggie. So that became my plan of action.
However, in Rach-land the concept of eating vegetarian was basically to eat like shit and to excuse it by saying that there weren’t enough options for me. I’m quite a fussy eater as it is, so being a vegetarian who pretty much lived off toast, marmite, bounty bars and diet coke- was how it went from the ages of 16-18.
By the time I was 18 my parents had realised that I actively had an eating disorder and I was not only cutting out food groups but also throwing up the little that I was eating. I didn’t cave though, and by the time I moved to university I was sticking with it. My vegetarianism, terrible diet and even worse mental health bundled themselves up and went of to Kent Uni for the next three years.
Over my time at university, I fluctuated being mainly pescatarian, vegetarian and I had a whole 4 days where I tried to be vegan, but it clashed with Christmas so that was the end of that (lol what a fucking state honestly)
I once slipped up and ate a piece of ham when I was drunk- but we don’t talk about that… and by the time I was finally ready to defeat my eating disorder at age 20, I started eating meat again. Not only to help get over my issues with food- but also to stop making excuses about food that was ”off-limits” to me.
I’ve been on again and off again since that day. When I met Luke I had been back on the veggie wagon for around 5 months- but after practically moving in on day one we started cooking together and it became an inconvenience. (Shit excuse, but there you have it!)
So where am I with it now? After all my years of research, I still hate the ethics of the industry, and I don’t really eat anything except chicken and the occasional spag bol or bit of bacon (fucking hell is bacon nice!)- but it doesn’t feel like it’s good enough. I feel like now that I would consider myself in a place of recovery that I would be doing it for the right reasons again and that I should really stick to the ethics that I preach.
I recognize that I have the privilege to actually decide what I eat, but there’s a large part of me that wants to quit meat again and for the final time. I love animals and I don’t really enjoy the idea of putting them in my face- but am I recovered far enough to make that decision? I don’t even know.