Alexandria Collins: I love meat. Eating it could be considered an American pastime. Ever since I was a little girl my parents made sure that I had some sort of meat with every meal. Even with cereal, my mom wanted me to have ham or chicken to get protein. Crazy, I know. Now that I’m older and more health-conscious, I don’t want to eat meat all time.
This led me to want to become a vegetarian. About 2 months ago, I gave it a shot. I stopped eating meat—“cold turkey”. That’s the hardest thing I have ever done! When you can’t eat meat you realize how much of your food has meat in it! I lasted two days. I know that sounds horrible but I went about it totally wrong.
One of the biggest challenges didn’t come from me or the food I saw, but my family. My sisters laughed when I told them I was trying to be a vegetarian. My mom had this look of worry on her face and my dad pulled out some steak from the freezer and told me to cook dinner that night. It was hard! In the Black community we’ve grown up thinking that food defines the family. A ‘hearty’ meal defines what kind of man you are. Women are supposed to love cooking and making sure their family is full, and the only way we’ve been taught to do that is through fattening, greasy and meaty foods. It’s not healthy but at the time I didn’t have the will to see it through.
But now, I want to give it another shot. I spoke with my good friend Hannah Brooks who is a vegetarian and fellow socially conscious individual. Her advice to me is to start out small. I can’t try to stop completely or I’ll end up with the problem I had before where I craved a beef burrito more than I ever have in my entire life. She also told me to relax and think about the reasons I want to do it. Yes everyone, loving animals is a good reason, but if your conviction isn’t strong enough to move mountains, it won’t last. I’m heeding her advice and trying it again, even though I must say, it is still super hard.
But despite it all, I’m doing it. Hannah also gave me some great advice for my future family—way down the line—to secure our healthy place in the world. She said it’s important to start early. Especially with African-Americans we have to shift ourselves out of this unhealthy mindset and the more settled in our ways we become, the more difficult that is.
She’s right. Even though this bacon-lover is having a hard time adjusting, I’m doing it! Every day is a new journey towards a healthier me.
|Alexandria Collins- Vegetarian.mp3||1.7 MB|