Sharing a personal story today on the blog about why I stopped being vegetarian after 18 years and started eating meat again. Hey guys…this blog post has in the making for about six months now. I’ve been waiting to tell this story until it evolved to a point where I felt there was a story to tell. You see, six months ago I ate my first piece of meat…in 18 years. And last month in Europe, I was eating meat almost on the daily. So, how did I get to this point? What did my journey to eating meat again look like? In order to understand this, I think I have to start from the very beginning. A very good place to start (pardon the Sound of Music reference – Salzburg was one of my stops on my trip last month).

The Younger Years. Becoming a Vegetarian.

When I was a kid, my family would take a one week vacation every summer as tradition. One summer, when I was 11 years old, we drove to the finger lake region and stayed at a motel called Chalet Leon at Hector Falls in Seneca Lake. This place was the best as a kid. I remember they had a path behind the motel that led straight to part of the waterfall that you could walk underneath. My Dad would literally bring his shampoo with him in the morning and shower under the falls (no joke). We would take the path further down and skip rocks in the lake. Well, my Dad would skip them. My sister and I would just not-so-gracefully chuck them into the water.

One morning at Chalet Leon, my parents asked the motel owners what they could do with us in the area that would be “kid-friendly”. They said oh, there’s this farm nearby you could take them to. Great. A kid-friendly farm, probably a petting farm. Perfect. So we went to the “farm”, which turned out to actually be a farm sanctuary, which provides shelter to over 500 animals rescued from poor factory farm conditions, exploits factory farming, and serves up vegan dogs on a platter (literally).

I saw some really horrible things at this farm (I’m going to spare you the details in case it’s triggering to anyone reading). Needless to say, the sanctuary was not the kid-friendly farm my parents had envisioned. As an animal-loving eleven year old, the experience not only greatly disturbed me but it stuck with me too.

About a year later, or maybe less than that, one evening at dinner, my Mom served lamb chops and I remember staring at them sitting in their pool of red juices and being so turned off, remembering my experiences at the farm, and I said to my parents very indignantly, “I’m not eating meat anymore.” Their first reaction was defensive and eventually they succumbed, I think saying it would be a short phase or something like that. Eighteen years later, it obviously turned out to be a longer phase than they expected.

Getting Curious through Intuitive Eating.

As many of you know, I’m now a certified intuitive eating counselor and I work with many women who want to make peace with food and their bodies. One of the keys to the intuitive eating journey is compassionate curiosity. Getting curious about your food choices, your food “rules”, and your relationship with food, without casting judgement, guilt or shame. And so as I went through this training and began working with clients, I started to look at my own eating choices and I began to get curious about my “vegetarianism”, well technically “pescetarianism.”

That curiosity led me to back to the eating disorder that I developed about a year after becoming vegetarian. It’s hard for me to believe that this timing was merely a coincidence, especially with the knowledge that I have now about eating disorders. You see, it can be common for restriction to start in the form of something that’s more socially acceptable like giving up meat or giving up all animal products and then to escalate from there. I was talking about this realization with my parents recently (as they were shocked that I was eating meat again) and my Mom reminded me that shortly after I stopped eating meat, I also gave up dessert too. So, one restriction led to another, and another, until it developed into a full blown eating disorder. She also reminded me that a couple of my good friends at the time had also stopped eating meat. So perhaps it was less about the animal rights and the trip to Farm Sanctuary (as I attested) and more about control and fitting in with peers.

As I recovered from my eating disorder, my vegetarianism stayed. And it stuck around throughout high school, college (despite a few drunken nights eating chicken fingers and wings), and up until now as I embark on the big 3-0. And I certainly don’t think that I’ve been stuck in disordered eating for the last 18 years; I think it just became a way of life for me. This is how I eat. This is how I’ve “always” eaten. I never thought twice about it. Until I became immersed in intuitive eating and gave myself the space to get curious about it.

And when I got curious about it, I realized that, you know what, I really liked the taste of meat as a kid (and the fact that I was binging on late-night chicken fingers in college leads me to believe that I liked it then too). But I do still have some beliefs and values that support plant-based eating. For instance, I do still deeply care about the treatment of farm animals. I do still believe in the health and environmental benefits of a more plant-based lifestyle. But I’ve been able to challenge those beliefs too. Like if I care about the treatment of farm animals and oppose factory farming, then why can’t I purchase my meat from the CSA I get my produce from where I know how they treat their animals? And if I care about the health benefits of plant-based lifestyle, then why can’t I still eat mostly plant-based (and my definition of plant-based does not mean vegan) but still allow myself the flexibility to eat meat when I’m craving it or when something sounds really appetizing.

And that’s the beauty of intuitive eating. It’s not black or white. It’s not all or nothing. Black and white thinking is diet mentality. I either eat meat or I’m avoiding it all together. I’m either avoiding carbs or I’m binging on them (another example of black and white thinking). But we can exist in the shades of grey. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I can continue to eat in a way that feels good to my body and that respects my values around animal treatment but I don’t have to be so rigid about it. I can give myself permission to eat whatever it is I’m craving, even if that includes meat.

Where I Am Today.

The past six months have been my time to experiment. To see if I even like the taste of meat. To see if I like some forms more than others. To see if I even wanted to get back to including meat in my diet? It started with taking bites of Steve’s stuff. Bite of a braised short rib grilled cheese sandwich (um, yum.), taste of a turkey bacon sandwich, sharing his apple cider glazed chicken. And when I would take a bite, a smile would come across my face, and Steve would be like your eyes just lit up as if life was just coming back into you. But, it’s true. I enjoyed it. Which also supported the idea that maybe it was time to challenge some of these “rules” that I had created oh, so long ago. Sharing a personal story today on the blog about why I stopped being vegetarian after 18 years and started eating meat again. When I went to Europe last month, I traveled to places that are traditionally very meat-centric: Prague, Berlin, Munich and Salzburg. Now ya’ll know I love to travel – exploring a new place is one of my biggest passions. But for me part of that exploration is experiencing the local food culture. And I felt like I couldn’t truly do that without eating meat. So I tried their staple dishes: sausages, hams, beef goulash, pork schnitzel…and discovered that I liked some more than others (not a fan of sausage right now). And there was a sense of pleasure and satisfaction that came along with being able to enjoy the local fare while traveling through these cities (stay tuned for an intuitive eating while traveling post coming in the near future bc I feel like that’s a whole other topic).

I’m sure some of you are wondering: do you feel any different now? Do you have more energy? Are you more sluggish? And no, I don’t really feel any different at all. Which reinforces my belief that maybe how we feel has less to do with our food choices and more to do with how we take care of ourselves in other areas of our life (relaxation, self care, mental health, etc.). why I started eating meat again after 18 yearsSo what does this all mean for the blog? Well, I’m still going to be eating plant-based meals and seafood so you can expect to still see vegan-friendly, vegetarian-friendly and pescatarian recipes. In fact, that likely will still remain the bulk of what you see here. But I want this to be a space where all foods fit. So I’m going to be talking about all the meals I eat. Not just the ones that fit a plant-based model. In my Europe recaps, you’ll see the meat dishes I ate. I want the blog to be a space that promotes flexibility, not rigidity and I hope that you’ll stick around for more intuitive eating posts as I aim to promote a healthier relationship with food and our bodies. why I started eating meat again after 18 yearsWhat Does This Mean For You?

Nothing. Unless you want it to mean something to you. The aim of this post was simply to share a piece of my personal life with you and how it translates to my professional life and the work I do with my clients. But if you do want to take away something from this post, I invite you to practice compassionate curiosity in your own life. Maybe this applies to food and you start to get curious about your own “food rules” or maybe you get curious about your career, your relationships, your self-care, whatever it is, without casting judgment on yourself. Curiosity is a beautiful thing as long as we’re not judging or feeling shameful about what comes up.

In my e-book, Nourish Your Namaste: How Nutrition and Yoga Can Improve Digestion, Immunity, Energy and Relaxation, I talk about the yogic principle of ahimsa, which stems from the first of the yamas, and translates to non-harming or non-violence. Some misinterpretations of ahimsa have led yogis to believe they shouldn’t eat meat. But the important piece that is missing with this interpretation is that non-harming also means non-harming of the self (in addition to non-harming others). If you decided to give up meat and realized that you were losing weight, felt weaker, tired, and low energy, then you would be doing harm to yourself by adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. No matter what eating lifestyle you choose, make sure it’s not causing you harm (mental or physical). If you find you feel amazing by eliminating meat, by all means respect that insight and go veg. But don’t go plant-based-to-the-extreme for the sake of the Yoga-Sūtra at your own expense. You’d only be doing yourself more harm than good.

Bottom line: You do (what works for) you. Don’t ever feel like you have to put a label on your eating patterns or defend your eating decisions as long as you’re being really honest and curious with yourself about your intentions behind them.

I’d love to hear from you about how or if curiosity has played out in your own life.


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  1. brenda sinsigallo

    You were never vegan.

  2. Emily

    I just stopped eating meat in February of 2020. There was no big moment that made me stop. I was considered going vegetarian when I moved out and lived on my own purely because meat can be expensive. I’m also an environmental sustainability major, and I think I felt that, morally, I couldn’t eat meat and be in the field of study that I’m in. Obviously, I know that there are environmentally friendly ways to eat meat and I know meat is a very big part in certain cultures and so I’d never shame anyone for not eating meat. I also know that everyone in the world could stop eating meat, that wouldn’t stop climate change. It might help, but that’s it. I’m kind of thinking I might start eating meat again though. I’ve also grown up with an eating disorder, long before I stopped eating meat, and I also have a rather rough case of anemia and multiple other mineral deficiencies.
    I think a part of me is worried about losing control with my eating (re: eating disorder). I also don’t want to be a quitter, as silly as that sounds. I did lose weight when I stopped eating meat, and my anemia got significantly worse, and I picked up my many other mineral deficiencies. I think maybe I should sort out my health stuff and THEN decide if I want to eat meat or not, but I’m very hesitant to go back to eating meat.

    • Thanks for sharing your story, Emily. I have so much empathy and compassion for you. I’m wondering since you grew up with an eating disorder if you have a dietitian that you trust who you could unpack this more with? <3

  3. Kiera E

    So my predicament relates to what you’ve been through but is also very different. While my sister is now in recovery from her eating disorder, that was never an issue for me. Like many other people, I became a vegetarian when I was 10 because of some awful videos about cruelty to animals. Over the past 6ish months, I was advised to cut dairy from my diet by my neurologist as a possible aid in suppressing my chronic migraines. I do believe that there may be improvement in my migraine frequency since then, but my digestive health hasn’t gotten any better. The past 16 years I’ve been what my mother would teasingly call a “carbotarian.” Yes I eat vegetables, yes I eat eggs, and a heck of a lot of meat substitutes, but my diet has always been overwhelmingly carbs. I’ve been trying to eat healthier, because honestly, I’ve never been a healthy person. I just have a lot more health problems as an adult that didn’t stick out as reasons not to be vegetarian as a kid.
    But I’m really wanting to overhaul my health and fitness, and I’m worried I’ll always struggle because of my vegetarianism. I’ve certainly had points in my life where I was, at least for a small time, eating a substantial vegetarian diet, but the problem is that i honestly don’t like cooking, and it’s kind of unavoidable. Realistically, I realize in order to eat healthy, I will have to cook no matter what, but maybe it would be easier if I let in some meats. So the “what’s stopping me” isn’t a moral guilt. I actually have lived in Kansas and spent some time in veterinary school and have learned that the majority of the food animals in the US are treated very very well. I have no moral qualms about the consumption of meat. So why do I hesitate? Because it’s been so long, it has stopped seeming like a plausible food to me. I realize that’s a weird way to phrase it, but for comparison (just theoretically), think of dog food. Yes, it’s food, there’s no denying that, but it’s not food I would consider eating. It’s food, but not to me. I don’t know if that’s a disordered thought, but I think it’s just how I was able to cope with the presence of meat (even needing to work with raw meat on many occasions), without feeling disgusted or uncomfortable. I can prepare dog food, I can chop up and portion out raw meat, but in neither of those instances do I see it culminating in me consuming the finished process.
    So I’m not craving meat, and for the most part, my vitamin and iron levels have historically been within normal, but as i look to become a healthier person, I worry I’m out on an impossible task trying to do that without a major overhaul of my diet, like including meat.
    I’d start by adding seafood, but honestly, I’ve always hated it, and the smell makes me feel sick. That’s one thing I could never get myself to deal with is even being around seafood when it’s cooking. I feel stuck. Do I find a way to further focus my dairy free vegetarianism into a healthy diet or eat dog food (in theory)?
    I don’t know if all of that sounds crazy, but if you have any advice at all, I would greatly appreciate it!
    It means a lot to read how you said you can be plant based, but allow yourself occasional meat. While it wouldn’t necessarily be me “allowing” myself as kind of voluntarily forcing it, it’s important that if I do this, I can see that it’s not deciding between being a vegetarian or being a carnivore, there’s a scale. I just don’t know where I land on it.

    • Hey Kiera – thanks for sharing your story with me. I can relate to being at the point where it doesn’t seem like a plausible food for you. When you haven’t eaten something for 16 years, it begins to feel that way. You are the expert of your own body – only you can know what is the best decision for yourself. The only thing I can offer up is if you’re curious about it, maybe experiment with taking a few bites of things you used to like before you became vegetarian and see how you feel. Best of luck navigating what can feel tricky. xo

    • Lydia

      I am in the same boat. I would call myself a “cheesy carbotarian”, and have been for over 5 years. I have been trying to get my nutrients up but am limited because I live in a college dorm and well, college and cooking have not mixed well for me. I’m having a hard time eating chicken. Its too flavorful and maybe even hormone-ey? I have a hard time stomaching it. Seafood is definitely a no from me. I hope you find something that works for you. You’re not alone.

    • Thank you for sharing, Lydia <3

    • Kiera

      Thanks Kara and Lydia. Since I posted this I’ve started to eat some meat again. Mostly just poultry, but I’ve tried a couple other things. Lydia, I definitely know how hard it is to handle cooking and food decisions while in college. Undergrad was really hard for me being a vegetarian. Since then I’ve been in vet school on and off, and finding time to cook has been even more difficult. I’ve found so far that just opening myself up to more options has made things a little easier. Vegetarianism often requires cooking for yourself instead of college cafeteria food in order to get all your nutrients. That can be hard.

      I think what you said, Kara, about still being “plant-based” has made the biggest impact. That and how supportive and nonchalant my family has been through all of this. I kept thinking that taking my first bite of meat would be breaking this way of life I worked so hard on for so long. But i realized that nothing will erase that vegetarianism, and if I decide to go back to it, I don’t have to tell people, oh I took a hiatus for a few months. Regardless of whether we give our diet a title or not, it’s up to us to determine what defines our diet.

      Thank you both!

    • Thank you for sharing, Kiera! Means a lot <3

  4. sam

    Hi. Ive been vegetarian/pescatarian for a little over a year now. I have been doing good up until the last month. I havent been eating meat still, but my mind has been wandering and i have been craving it more than i ever have lately. I feel like i cant get full anymore lately. this might be because i am exercising much more frequently? But as someone who used to have an eating disorder and is recovered for 5 years, im afraid maybe im subconsciously not eating meat because i might gain weight? When i first cut out meat, my body got a six pack basically. i lost weight at first but then gained it. back healthily. Now i feel i might be afraid if i eat meat i will gain a ton of weight because it will be new to my body. Do you think this is possible? I dont want to risk gaining weight and having my eating disorder flare up from that (not that i weigh myself, but noticing weight might trigger me). I have been craving bacon sooo bad and have been trying to remind myself of those awful animal videos i once saw that convinced me to be vegetarian. But now, im worried its for the weight as I havent thought about those videos in almost a month. Please respond. Im from the deep south so there are no other vegetarians or vegans who could relate or tell me whether or not youd gain weight if you started eating meat again.

    • Hi Sam – every body responds to vegetarianism / eating meat differently in terms of weight outcomes. I can’t predict you what your body will do if you add meat back in but if you’re craving it and not feeling satisfied without it, it sounds like your body is giving you the answer for what to do.

  5. Leroy

    My situation is different in that I couldn’t control my high blood pressure or cholesterol unless I took some medications. I wasn’t willing to do that so I went to the root of my problem which was food that contained cholesterol and eliminate those foods from my diet. I now have normal blood pressure and my cholesterol is below 200. I’m 72 so being a vegan isn’t so hard and given that I don’t have decades to live I feel my sunset years should be stress free from worrying about my health. I’ve also found that there is a wide variety of vegan foods and recipes that please the palate. I enjoyed the years that I got to enjoy the taste of meat but now I have to adjust to the changes my body is going through.

  6. Inda

    Thank you so much for your honesty. This was a great read. I’m also a pescatarian but I love a good curried goat and barbequed chicken…

  7. Shelton Walden

    I want to thank you for your post. I was a very loud and boisterous vegan for a very long time – probably obnoxious too! I had a radio show centered around this too! I am not ashamed of that period – indeed I know why now I took those food positions – I had a profound fear of being fat like some members of my family. Approximately 12 years ago, I started to eat some meat again and although I have had some health challenges in other areas, overall I have a better sense of well being. Veganism, although it may work for some, is not for everyone. Thank you for this post about your food journey.

  8. Clara

    I want to thank you for this post. I stopped being a vegetarian 6 months ago because deep down in my heart I knew I was using my vegetarian diet as an excuse to restrict my food. I felt bad when I made the decision but I knew this was the best for me. It wasn’t easy though, as I felt “impure” and terribly guilty.
    I have learned so so so much in these months about intuitive eating and food freedom. I am still learning, but I feel free to eat whatever I want -meat or anything else- most of the time and that feeling is wonderful.
    Thank you for your job, people like you have made people like me much happier!
    PS- Sorry if something doesn’t make sense or there are mistakes, English is not my native language!

    • Clara, thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your story! I’m thrilled to hear that you’re learning about intuitive eating and working toward food freedom and are already reaping the benefits! xo

  9. Charin

    I find it very sad that you think that because it is grass fed its right to eat meat. A cow, pig, etc still has to die for you to eat your meat. I became vegetarian when I was 35 years old, I was not a kid or a teenager but an adult and I did it the responsable way by researching first. If you are not going to consume meat you need to find protein in vegetables and other foods. You can have a balanced lifestyle and therefore do not need to eat bags of bread, boxes of cereal or just rice with vegetables. There are so many varieties of different kinds of foods to eat and so healthy for you and for your body you just need to do your research and please, please do not say that by being vegetarian you have a eating disorder because you are just talking about people in general and not all of us suffer from that. You can be a vegetarian and vegan and be healthy in all manners. It takes time and effort to learn how to eat correctly and be healthy at the same time.

    • Thank you for sharing your opinion. I did not say that everyone who is vegetarian has an eating disorder. I wouldn’t generalize that to all vegetarians/vegans. And a lot of the clients (not all, but many) whom I work with who are suffering from eating disorders/disordered eating are vegetarian/vegan. All I was saying is that it can be a socially acceptable way to start restricting/controlling food but not that everyone is using it that way.

  10. Ashley

    Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been struggling lately with the erge to “flex”itarian and my heart hurts because of the guilt I feel and at this point it’s been consuming all my thoughts. It’s extremely overwhelming and its hard to imagine eating a different way after I haven’t ate meat for so long. And how long I’ve preached about the animals to everyone. And right now idk what to do and this helped me a lot.

    • I can totally relate, Ashley! I know how hard it can feel. I’m glad this post felt helpful to you. <3

    • Maura

      I’m in the exact position you were in! How are you now in regards to your diet and how you feel about being flexible with what you eat ?

  11. Shelby

    I can’t thank you enough for this post. I decided to research other people’s experience going from “vegetarian” to meat eater. I’ve been vegetarian for 9 years and have been in a moral crisis about wanting to eat chicken again. But you’re right! What I want to do is my choice entirely. Thank you for you sharing!

    • Narelle

      I’m so glad I saw your comment, because I feel exactly the same way (moral crisis). I’ve been a vegetarian for more than half my life, and lately just keep thinking about meat. If and when I do start eating meat again, I don’t even know where to start!

    • I get it and can totally empathize with you both! Food should not be a moral issue! <3

    • Absolutely it’s 100% your choice! I’m glad this post was helpful. <3

  12. Thanks for a great piece of writing! I found you via a harissa cauliflower recipe 🙂 I’m a registered horse nutritionist 9with the UK Association of Nutrition… we’re passionate about nutrition as a science) and I am so very refreshed by reading your info. You know what you are talking about and I love your ‘intuitive eating’ description! Even our horses have succumbed to many people’s twisted nutrition ideas and it can be so stressful for owners to worry so much about what to feed their horses. This angst gets passed onto the horse! It’s a relief for the horse when the owner realises they can relax about what they feed 🙂 Keep up the great work xx

  13. What a wonderful and honest post. My journey has been so very similar, albeit longer. (One good thing to remember: The journey does not end, my friends! You never finally “get there” & therefore, it really IS all about the journey.) It’s affirming and even comforting to learn about other people going through the same things that I went through, things that still come up from time to time, and that I am continuing to learn from. Thank you for sharing. xx

  14. Yesica

    This made me so happy to read because you spoke the truth! free of judgment. I have had a long weird journey, started off as a vegan, then vegetarian, and now pescatarian. I started because I felt conflicted about things that you mentioned and became so uptight with what I can or couldn’t eat. I have been thinking back and forth for a bit over a year on how much I missed eating foods that I grew up with or having that cultural connection with family through food. You have allowed me to understand and realize that who cares if someone judges me, I want to eat meat but still remain a healthy lifestyle.

  15. Kellee

    Thank you so much for posting this. I (re)discovered intuitive eating a few months ago and have been working through Tribole and Resch’s book, and making action points for myself to really think, and feel, about the way I choose food.

    I’ve been vegetarian for 23 years (with the odd bout of pescatarianism, and I too ate chicken, for a couple of months about twelve years ago), and for the past week or so, I have started to become curious about eating meat. I’m so conflicted about this. All the reasons I became vegetarian still exist for me (animals being sentient beings and not here for our ‘use’, their mistreatment), but for the past week I feel like I am *really* feeling my hunger, deeply, and am wondering whether eating meat, finally, might be how I help satisfy it.

    Reading your article was so helpful. Your non-judgement of yourself is exactly where I want to be, and is the path I’m on, I hope. I loved what you wrote about ‘testing’ food. My curiosity feels very academic at the moment, I haven’t put it into practice yet, so it’s really helpful to read about those who have had the courage to do just that. Thank you for sharing your story so beautifully.

  16. I finally found what I was looking for. I am a vegetarian (for 8 months but I’ve been one in the past for one year then gave up) who just a few weeks ago began taking care of her and her eating habits and since last night I’ve also began to crave meat. I’ve actually beacame one because of my digestive problems because I didn’t ate lean meat only, I used to eat salami, ham, sausages and fatty meat so no wonder I was having trubles going to the toilet 🙁 so I guess my point here is that I was having a really hard time trying to figure out if I should start eating meat again or not and your post kinda made me to make up my minde. I ‘ve realised that once I start eating meat again I still can have my vegetarian days and I don’t have to stuff my face with a lot of fatty meat. I am still not sure though…there is a battle in my head and I don’t even know what I am fiting for..

    • Hey there, it sounds like you feel really conflicted about it. Just remember there is no “right” or “wrong” decision and I would just try to get in touch with your values and intentions for being vegetarian. I know it’s a tough choice!

  17. Tal

    Thanks for sharing. I recently switched from a vegetarian diet when I returned home for a while since someone else was cooking meat for me (main reason I went vegetarian) and honestly, I felt so much better! I am not sure if other people have the same digestive issues I had with eating tempeh, beans and tofu, but all gone now!

    Honestly, it about eating what makes you feel good!

  18. Loved this post and your entire approach to food! So many people are too frightened to change their eating behaviors because they don’t know what will happen if they do, and the fact that you were brave enough to try says a lot. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  19. This is such a great post, Kara. I resonate on so many levels, from the disordered eating, the food rules, avoiding meat, and then finally getting curious and testing, and continuing to test whether what I’m avoiding is because I simply don’t like it, or because I’ve created a belief about it being bad. For now for me, I rarely eat more than a taste off my husband’s plate before I decide “no thank you,” but knowing my tendencies, I tend to keep trying out these “no foods” every now and again. I love that you are sharing your experience and by doing so, can hopefully help so many others learn to eat more intuitively in the way that works best for them!

    • Thanks so much for sharing, Rebecca. It sounds like we have such similar stories. Such an important lesson to keep trying these “no foods.” I sure hope I can help people to learn to eat more intuitively!

  20. I love this post so much. I was vegetarian-borderline vegan in college and then I realized that… what I was doing wasn’t balanced at all. Under what circumstances is spinach and rice for dinner (notice – no protein at all), or blowing through a whole box of cereal AND crackers in three days balance? One, I learned a whole lot more about nutrition which impacted my decisions. But two, I realized, I’m kind of a crummy vegetarian. I actually hate tofu, in fact there are a number of plant-based proteins I don’t really love. I found I do better when I have the majority of my meals as plant-foods (I usually eat at least one meal/d vegetarian, with beans or milk or Greek yogurt as my protein) and include a small amount of animal meats/protein at my other meals. To me, it’s still plant-based. The majority of my meal is comprised of plants. Thanks for opening up!

    • I love this, Stacey! When I first became a vegetarian, I was one of those unhealthy vegetarians too, subsiding on pop-tarts and carbs and barely any protein! I love the more flexible definitions of plant-based too. I agree that plant-based eating can include modest amounts of meat and dairy!

  21. Thanks, Kara, for sharing this personal story. You do you!

  22. Elizabeth Jarrard

    YOU GO GIRL! YOU DO YOU! xoxox

  23. Sara

    So interesting Kara! Loved the part of your dad bringing the shampoo to shower in the waterfall. Thanks so much for sharing your story and I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  24. This was such an interesting post to read, Kara! I stopped eating meat several years ago and for the first time in the past few months I’ve been tempted by the smell and allure of meat — and it’s such a strange feeling. I’m not yet ready to try it again (part of me feels like I don’t even know how!), but it was so comforting to read about your journey, and know all is OK. As a dietitian I feel like we’re often supposed to have it all figured out and know all the answers when it comes to food, but thank you for showing that our own journeys can still evolve too!

    • Thanks, Chelsey! Yes, I can totally appreciate that sentiment that as dietitians we need to have all our food stuff figured out but like any aspect of health and wellness, it’s a continuously evolving journey, right? We are always changing and so our health and choices surrounding our health will too. I always say dietitians are human too! ;). Glad it was a comforting post for you to read xoxo

  25. Nicola

    “That curiosity led me to back to the eating disorder that I developed about a year after becoming vegetarian. It’s hard for me to believe that this timing was merely a coincidence, especially with the knowledge that I have now about eating disorders. You see, it can be common for restriction to start in the form of something that’s more socially acceptable like giving up meat or giving up all animal products and then to escalate from there.”

    Thanks so much for this post! This bit was like a lightbulb moment for me.

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 15 years, since I was 13. I had a couple of friends who were vegetarians, and I was an animal lover, so I announced I would no longer eat meat, either. I never particularly liked most meat/meat dishes, so it wasn’t a huge sacrifice at the time, and the only real issues I’ve had around it have been awkward moments at social gatherings (pro tip: If you’re a veg*n, make sure you have an answer that’s not “MEAT IS MURDER” for Christmas with your boyfriend’s farmer grandparents!).

    However, I do have a lot of disordered eating habits around things I actually like (think trying to cut down on carbs and then bingeing on bread). Reading this makes me wonder if my vegetarianism, even though I don’t miss eating meat, was still an attempt to restrict from an early age. And as I’ve gotten more interested in intuitive eating, I’ve been questioning the rigidity of my vegetarianism. Things like: Would it be okay if I only ate ethically-sourced meat? or, What if I continued to eat the same plant-based meals in general, but shared a platter of bacon-wrapped dates when out for dinner with my friends?

    And, sometimes, the kneejerk answer is, ‘But what will people THINK?’ What will people think of me, if I’ve been saying I’m a vegetarian for 15 years and then they catch me eating poutine? What will people think of me if I have the veggie burger at a barbeque but grab a couple of scoops of a chicken salad?

    And making my food choices around what other people think isn’t any way to live my life.

    I’m not saying I’m going to suddenly start eating meat again, but this post came at a time when I’ve been thinking about meat and intuitive eating already, and I appreciate it.

    • I’m so glad this post resonated with you, Nicola! And I’m glad to hear that you’re starting to get curious about your food habits as well. And I can totally appreciate the worry about what other people will think! I definitely had some of those fears come to the surface when getting ready to hit publish on this post. But at the end of the day, those who are important to you will support you and those who don’t, you don’t need ’em. If it’s any consolation, I’ve received so much support and love about being honest with my story and my decision that I’m sure you will too. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here. xo

  26. This is a great article Kara and I appreciate your sharing such a personal journey. I have been in and out of eating vegetarian, vegan, raw food and omnivorous diets for years. I’ve raised farm animals for meat production (wagyu cattle [for kobe beef], sheep, lambs and heritage pigs) and also gave up raising animals for consumption. I’ve eaten a junk food vegan diet when university coursework and job demands were greatest. I’ve also noted how much better I feel when I take the time to eat a balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. I’ve participated in, as well as admonished fad diets. I’ve grown a lot of organic food, learned some aspects of commercial food production and am thoroughly enjoying learning research decide to occassionally enjoy a bite of steak, I’m going to do so with my eyes wide open to the impact of tskills and evidence-based nutrition in my final year of my dietetics degree. I’ve analyzed my food philosophy closely over this past year from an amused out-side-looking-in approach. The pendulum has stopped swinging and I’m at peace with a balanced, fully-aware, non-judgmental intuitive approach. I like Michael Pollan’s adage, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” As a recovering “black and white” thinker (and eater), it is a joy to have reached a place that I feel honors my left-brained just-the-facts ma’am as well as my right-brained intuition, creativity and sense of pleasure in all things tantalizingly aromatic and delicious. I am a conscientious eater and hold myself responsible for the impact of my choices. Meaning, if I hat decision.
    I appreciate your mention of both the health impact of eating meat as well as the animal welfare considerations. I also think it is equally important to be aware of the environmental impact of eating farmed and commercially raised fish, meat and poultry. Commercial meat operations continue to negatively impact the environment in significant ways. The more we consume commercially raised meats, the more we contribute to these environmental issues. Not everyone has the ability to purchase organically raised meats from a local conscientious farmer, and this is where mindful moderation can be beneficial. We can all get so caught up in dogma surrounding food and what to eat. I agree with you, “curisosity IS a beautiful thing”. It’s good to be curious about the choices we make. Mull them over. Sit with them for a while. Allow for some shades of gray to surface in both your own decisions, and the decisions of others. Come to terms with what feels like a responsible and satisfying choice. Just my two cents 😉

    • Thank you Catherine – I appreciate you reading and sharing your experience and thoughts on the subject so beautifully. It sounds like you’ve done your share of “experimenting” with different ways of eating too and I’m so glad to hear that the pendulum has stopped swinging and you’ve come to a place of peace with your approach.

  27. This is such an interesting read! A really good friend of mine had been vegetarian for 20 years and then decided to try adding a bit of meat when she was pregnant since she couldn’t stomach much else. After giving birth she decided to continue eating meat and hasn’t looked back. It’s good to let our ways of eating evolve as we evolve as well but to also allow yourself to try new things if that’s what your mind/body are telling you.

    • Thanks for sharing that story, Brynn! I completely agree. We are always evolving, our bodies are always changing, and it’s okay for our decisions around food, health and wellness to change and evolve too. xo

  28. I find your story very interesting and almost identical to mine back in high school. I went on to get an MSW w a specialization in ED and worked in the field for many years. I have now been a vegetarian for over 30 years and can’t really ever imagine eating meat again. Thanks for sharing!

  29. Elaine Magee

    I believe for many being vegan can be a socially acceptable way of restricting. As someone who has a heart for preventing disordered eating, flexibility (I have found) can be a key characteristic to having a healthy relationship with food.

  30. I applaud you for bravely sharing your story, Kara! I’ve been vegan and vegetarian before. Now, I eat what I want but like you, it’s mostly plant based + fish. People can be very judgmental when they’ve labeled you a certain way and you go against that image. So kudos to you, Friend!

    I work with college-aged women and many want to be vegan because it’s “cool” but struggle because they love meat (and also don’t know how to eat to nourish their bodies on vegan diet). I try to help them get beyond the label and eat what works for their bodies. Thanks for sharing!

    • Awe, thank you Marisa! That means a lot. Totally. I was definitely apprehensive about the judgements that would follow from this post since I’ve had that “label” for so long but I’ve been overwhelmed by all the support and love I’ve received from sharing my story.

      Yes – share this post with your students! It’s so sad that people are adopting these very restrictive diets for no reason other than to fit in with the trends or because of fear mongering documentaries on Netflix – but that’s a whole other blog post! lol

  31. Katie

    Fascinating journey you’ve had. Two of my daughters are vegetarians and I definitely have my radar up about the motivation for the change, particularly since I see a lot of their friends experimenting with various diets and restrictions. So far, they seem pretty healthy and balanced about it. And I hope they know this doesn’t need to be forever if they choose to go in a different direction at some point. I’m sharing your post with them!

  32. Susan

    This was a thought provoking post. I stopped eating meat when I was six, and I made this choice when I realized where meat came from. I just did not want to eat the flesh of other living animals. Once I became a mother, I discovered that my child was a meat lover, and started including meat based dishes in our diet. When I found sources of meat that came from ethically raised and harvested animals, I became much more comfortable with serving meat based dishes and willingly paid a premium price for such food despite our low income. I had discovered that I felt better including meat in my diet when I started meditating, oddly enough, as that is when many people start to reject the concepts of eating meat. When I asked my meditation teacher about the timing, I was told that some people have trouble feeling grounded in the physical plane, and that eating meat helps resolve this problem, which is why a need for meat might emerge after starting a meditation practice. But I was not comfortable with eating meat until I had access to ethically produced meat. And I am still repelled by “bloody” meat dishes, or animal fat. It will be interesting to analyze the source of the latter two dislikes.

  33. Shawn P.

    Loved this post, Kara. I can just hear the freeness in your words, and it so beautiful!