One thing I understand about going through this year of trying to figure out this whole vegetarian thing is this:
There was a lot more to it than I thought there would be.
There is so much to LEARN.
So, when I ran into vegetarians, I asked questions.
This was interesting, because people are on their own plans... on their own planets, really.
And that's cool. That let me know: there is no real plan. Just try.
First of all, it's RARE to run into a vegetarian, especially a black one. Maybe they are all around. But no one talks about it or walks around with a blazing sign over their head. I can understand this now, because the first thing someone says when you say you're on this path is:
"Girl, I couldn't do that. I couldn't go without meat."
Okay uh... that's encouraging. So, uh, I be sure to hush up. The topic will come up when I order a vegetable plate or something.
And I've gotten like others: I don't want to talk about it. I get discouraged every time. NOT a good thing.
But I ran into one person who told me a couple of things that have been at the backbone of my year, and at the forefront of my mind for some time: Nikki's brother, 'Swad.
He's been a vegetarian for ten years. She had mentioned this to me, so when he came into town to visit when she was sick, I was over there too.
And I talked his ear off.
He told me two things that have really stuck. I didn't understand then, but I thoroughly understand now:
"Lee, it's gonna take you a few years to transition."
"WHAT?" I said. "You tripping. It ain't all that hard."
(Note: I had stopped eating meat on June 1, 2009. It was mid-June 2009 when we had this convo. LOL!!!)
"No, it's gonna take a minute."
"No it's not," I said.
"Yes it is," he shot back.
We went back and forth about that. I just let it go.
Then he said.
"You're gonna really have to learn how to cook."
Now he had just gone and lost his mind then.
ANYBODY WHO KNOW ME KNOW I CAN COOK MY TAIL OFF.
I began to think, "This boy don't know what he's talking about."
I saw him a couple of months ago. We'd gone bowling. And I had to tell him.
"'Swad. You were right."
You were right, you were right, you were right.
I know he was thinking... she's a bit TOO excited.
This thing... it's gonna take a minute. It REALLY is a transition type of thing. I've been eating meat for over 39 years. That is a long time. That is something I've held strong to. It's completely automatic: meat at every meal. It's like that for everybody.
Hence, I do thoroughly understand:
"Girl, I couldn't do that. I couldn't go without meat."
Yeah, I understand that. Try to accept it, but it's not my personal truth anymore.
And that is why I wrote that short series of stronghold posts last week. There are things in life we hold strongly to. And when I think of strongholds, I think of bad things. I never thought of it in terms of the "normal" things. Eating meat is normal. It is vital. It is, as far as I'm concerned, the very best part of any plate.
Good meat is good meat.
So, I understand it takes time to transition away from it.
I don't know about you, but for me anything abrupt brings misery and shock and utter confusion.
And this hasn't been necessarily abrupt. But it's a process involving much time and patience on my part.
Now, looking back, I also understand the whole notion that I really have to learn how to cook. I mean really cook. And I better be creative as hell about it. Or there will be (and have been) problems.
I've had to learn how to properly cook my vegetables, and more importantly, expand my mind concerning trying new things. Trust, there is absolutely NO room to turn my nose up at anything new.
I better try it. Period. So what if I didn't like it?
I tried it.
I can now form and have an opinion on it.
I've had to learn how to braise vegetables. I've had to learn about different oils for cooking. I've had to try vegetables that I would otherwise not try. (I really like sea vegetables. A couple contain every mineral the body needs). I've had to learn to cook vegetables I don't care for (I don't like spinach, too slimy. But I have learned to cook it where it's not. And I like it).
I've had to learn about spices (I really like African spices. WOW!) I've had to learn which fruits and vegetables contain iron and protein, and how to incorportate them on a regular basis. I've had to try grains and learn to cook grains that I've never ever heard of or can barely pronounce (got a funny story coming up on this).
It helps much that I am a food chemist. I work with fruits and vegetables every day, and I see some strange stuff come through the lab. These days, I will go look up the item, not to to research the chemistry of it, but to get a recipe, or see how it's used.
(My Auntie Joyce has taken FULL advantage of this. She'll call and be like "Lisa, have you heard of mangosteen or chermoya?" Nope. But I'ma look it up and track some down for her.)
(Hope the boss don't read that, lol. Suppose to be concentrating on the pes.ticide resi.dues!).
With all this said, I have learned some key things:
I have learned to be opened minded and to try new things.
I have made it a point to read something new concerning vegetarianism each and every day. (this is NOT difficult. There's all kinds of stuff going on on Twitter and Facebook. And I do a good amount of casual reading.)
The point is I have learned.
And I will continue to learn.
And as a result, I will continue to grow.
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