A Change in Perspective

Just last year I went on a retreat in which all of the food was vegetarian. Expecting bland rice and plain-vegetable meals, I was certainly impressed at the wonderful and tasty meals there. Sometimes the meals were nice and spicy, and sometimes they were sweet. They were very colorful, wholesome, and nutritious meals. It turns out that the recipes were not difficult to prepare either.

I grew up in a family where pork chops and roast beef dinners were commonplace. As a child, I felt that meat was ‘gross’ and didn’t want to eat it. I was declared a ‘picky eater.’ I learned to overcome that status by being polite and eating anything that was put on my plate.

Then I moved away to university, and as I progressed through my first couple of years, I began to feel less and less attracted to eating meat. There were many reasons for cutting back, but the main thing is that I simply did not want to eat it much; however, I did not want to cut it out completely, for I was afraid of not getting the right nutrients and also being an inconvenience to those with whom I shared my meals with.

My perspective at the time was that I didn’t really want to eat meat, but it was too inconvenient to cut it out completely. I didn’t have the time to do much nutritional research and didn’t want to make things awkward with my friends who eat meat.

As part of my search for peace, I have gone to a couple of different retreats. Just last year I went on a retreat in which all of the food was vegetarian. Expecting bland rice and plain-vegetable meals, I was certainly impressed at the wonderful and tasty meals there. Sometimes the meals were nice and spicy, and sometimes they were sweet. They were very colorful, wholesome, and nutritious meals. It turns out that the recipes were not difficult to prepare either.

The retreat was a real perspective-changer for me. As the days went by, being in a place where nobody ate meat, I wondered why we ever eat meat at all. It just didn’t make sense to me to kill a living being and eat its flesh, when all of these other wonderful foods are readily available. I don’t know why one would bother to kill an animal and eat it.

When I got back home, I realized partly why we do bother killing animals: In many cases it is not direct violence, but habit. We may do it because our parents do it, and our parent’s parents did it, etc. Now it either tastes good or seems ‘the thing to do.’ Many are comfortable following this tradition and are fine with eating meat.

For me, however, it was time for a change. I knew in my heart that it was time for a change; it was not a logical choice, not a “thou shall not eat meat” choice, but a try-and-see experiment that worked successfully. Now I know the simple rules for combining foods in a nutritious way, and it hasn’t turned out to be too inconvenient after all. I accept those who eat meat, and they accept me.

I encourage anyone who wants to try a vegetarian diet to try it, and experience the wonderful, wholesome, and colorful meals typical of a vegetarian diet. There need not be any force: try it if you like, if not, that’s cool too. Who knows what you might do further on down the road.

…it was not a logical choice, not a “thou shall not eat meat” choice, but a try-and-see experiment that worked successfully.

What you have in your mind?