My vegetarian father told me to eat meat

vegetarian - passion fruit lover

This story was written in collaboration with Exploradoras.com founders
We are working on the Spanish translation.

My vegetarian father told me to eat meat

Weird stuff happens

This is not a beautifully written piece of shit. This is a memory I have from my early teens, when my father was a pinnacle obstacle to clone his lifestyle.

At that time my dad was 42 years old or so. He was working for a big company and every weekend we spent our time together as a family, we had funny conversations about sports and life.

I was a great girl learning about how hard life can be and how people were engaging in difficult stuff as life hijacked their time.

It was kinda worrisome. I was tempted to elude all the fears, I felt like avoiding many of this thing by reading a lot, hitting hard and running like crazy when I could.

I had an exceptional precision, positioning tennis balls with all my strength and magic exactly in the place I wanted. At that point I wanted my life to work in the same way. Meticulously sharp.

It was at that time when I realized he had problems every time we went for lunch or dinner. He had to summon vegetarian dishes, like a wizard, ’cause as a roulette in the fair you didn’t know the faith of your luck. As a vegetarian man he had to have patience, and avoid at all costs thinking in a perfect dish. He was lucky to obtain a salad without tuna or ham, he was also lucky to find the eggs weren’t fried in the same oil than bacon…

… and I was lucky to learn tons about him.

One day, I was so impressed by his commitment for animal lives and wellbeing and the fortitude of his ideals that I wanted to be like him, a vegetarian.

I felt with all my heart I wanted to be clean of sin, or pain.

I asked him to teach me to stop eating meat, he listened to me and then he said.

You need to eat meat, you won’t stop now, you need those nutrients, and I cannot secure a good source of nutrition without that for you.

I was stunned, my mother was also there, and she was nodding. But she was the biggest fan of meat I have ever known, like ever. Off course, I was upset.

The upset girl and the lessons about nutrition and life.

I was so confused, why was my father telling me I needed meat, I couldn’t even try to become vegetarian and then feel the withdraw symptoms. I tried to find soft spots and force the vegetarianism in my life, but it was an impossible task.

A part of me felt my dad was a total jerk with contradictory speeches, and my mother was winning a silent war alongside the food market.

But it wasn’t until I was researching about how to balance my nutrition, sports and a healthy lifestyle that I became more aware about how difficult it was to find great food, having the sufficient intake of proteins, vitamins and fat. Also, it was extremely difficult not because of the lack of nutrients on food, it was difficult to measure, balance and structure a great diet for me and my siblings as we were growing up.

We didn’t have internet at that time (not in the way we have it now), and most physicians or nutritionist didn’t have the willingness of teaching or researching for this purposes.

The following questions arose at that point:

  • Did I have to eat supplements all the time?
  • Did I have to exercise less?
  • How could I live just with salads, beans and nuts without knowing any proportions or how to switch any of them in case I didn’t find them around me?
  • How can I say I don’t eat meat when I’m outside home?
  • Am I being stupid?

Later on, I was more understanding on my dad’s wishes, he didn’t have any way of measuring all this stuff, he didn’t have enough time to care about my food and how I was going to react to a new diet. Also, my parents couldn’t let me eat different from my brother and sister, they would start complaining and wanting to switch and try my luck, all in a riot style demonstration.

I didn’t want to feel special

My father told me when he saw me so sad about this, I could try once I was older and I had my own income, my own life and I had to choose my faith. He told me I wasn’t mean to animals, and he knew I was a total supporter of wildlife and cattle-stock fellas giving up life for me.

I felt powerless.

I didn’t want to feel special, but, as a pre-adolescent losing all the faith in your own decision power, wasn’t the happiest moment of my life.

Time

Time helped me to recover my willingness to change, to understand and to discover so many ways I could become a better person. I didn’t realize until I was really old I could manage this disappointment, and become more resilient, diverse and optimistic. Still, my humor is dense, my opinions strong and my life flavorful.

2 Comments

  1. Thomas King

    What an engaging testimonial on a thought provoking mutually felt paradox. Hailing from a carnivorous Shangri la where the bovine is as economically revered domestically as it spiritually is so in India there is a nurtured myth that meat and dairy maketh the man. I found myself at the polar end of the spectrum when it came to my manly gendered rite de pasage. Entering a metaphorical Mount Olympus which venerated the exploits of strong ‘Godlike’ men in the form of All Black titans, gladiatorial pugilists and fierce bushmen who wrangled down gamey beasts with their bare weather beaten mits following the flock was always the safest course of action. The debate is understandably a personally charged one and one which we should eventually come to self determine. Ignobly, i could still be defined to be a cretin for the chicken drum which I’m masticating in my mouth now ironically. To a degree, i do feel like our own indigenous folk that some ceremony should be afforded to the flesh which negates my hunger pangs and keeps me ticking. However, what i do feel pleased about is that I made the voluntary action to seek out a chicken which was not battery farmed and at least enjoyed some form of liberty. While the elective to go full blown vegan is a noble aspiration I would certainly not condone someone based on their choices. Holding the moral high ground i once unjustly waggled my index finger at one colleague for buying penned porcine goods. To which he replied “but my kids still have got to eat and I can’t afford the other (grander) option”. It’s at that moment that I realised that being a parent is first and foremost about ‘raising’ the broods often at the cost of other ethics and especially when one is on a tight budget. How could i have shaped my own essence when i had no agency at the time of my conception. I can’t even remember much about myself until about my 5th birthday. The prior years may as well have been a fleeting hazy dream. In La FeHam present day BC, I understandably have a sense of personhood and I’m nolonger a tabula rasa a piece of sheet waiting to be inscribed upon. That said, I’m certainly not a closed book and (godwilling) the chapters of my life continue to accrue with many new lessons learnt and many old myths shattered or a least reconsidered. Without dawdling on the volumes of literature pertaining to ‘free will’ i will be succinctly swift in saying it’s complex. I did not chose to be a NZder, nor to be born a privileged generic white male, or to be born into a stable hardworking upper working class family. Could you imagine how bare Africa might have been had conscious kids had a choice?Mylotto draw looking around the world was not a bad ticket after all. Yes, I was born into a family that consumed meat as you were but I do not look back on my father with disdain as I’m sure you do not either. My father lacked my fortunes, he left school at 15, had no university education and knuckled hard for every dollar he ever earned. He wanted us to enjoy the fruits of everything he never had including the opportunity to travel, pursue skill developing hobbies and to broaden our horizons. I’m glad that I took advantage of many of these gifts and rue that I squandered others. But above all, I’m thankful that I was given the health and life to do so. While not presently in a paternalistic position, if given the moral dilemma of placing animal life over the well being of my own child i am certain that i would be the brute reincarnate. Perhaps one day thereafter my high flying well educated bundle of joy will come to me with a plethora of mind boggling scientific facts and regurgitative pleas of “but why, Dad?”. And I hope that I can pluck up the sheepish courage to smile back at them and basque in the thoughtful sentient beings which they have become. And the even greater pride when they assuredly tell me “you know what, Dad? We’re going cold turkey with meat from now on”. If they do follow this sanctimonious path which I have failed to follow throughout my own existence, I will be a very very proud father, indeed.

    Reply
  2. Thomas King

    That opening was just so powerfully eye drawing . Loved the punchiness and panache, Girasol. And the fortitude of your principles.

    Reply

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