I’ve decided this year is going to be the year I stop labeling my diet. I think not labeling your diet is an important thing and something that I feel a lot of people have a hard time learning to let go of.
After moving to Davis, labels hit you pretty much in the face. My first interaction was in the dining commons, where everything is labeled. Some dishes were “vegan”, others were “vegetarian”, some were “gluten-free”, and then of course “dairy free”. To me, it made the entire process of searching for something to eat quite overwhelming.
Mostly because when everything becomes so excessively labeled, it makes you questions what label you want to be applied to your diet. It was always the questions that did I feel like entering the dining commons as an omnivore today or a herbivore? Would I feel bad about myself if I decided to eat chicken or pork? Would I feel like I was missing out on my daily protein intake if I chose to pass over meat dishes?
Overall, it was quite exhausting. And frankly, unnecessary. Now I understand that there are people who choose not to eat meat for health or humane treatment of animal reasons. So why is there an obsessive need to place those people in a box and call them vegetarian? And what if these individuals also enjoy seafood dishes, well now they can’t be considered vegetarians if fish is considered part of the meat family. So then you move into the gray area of “I eat everything but things traditionally known as meat”. But then again, you could eat just turkey and fish and nothing else and apparently that makes you a quasitarian”.
No. I am not making these terms up. That’s why I’ve decided I refuse to label my diet anymore. If I want to wake up tomorrow and go to work and order myself chicken sliders for lunch because they are delicious and my favorite thing to eat, then I’m going to order them. If I go a whole two weeks without eating any meat (like I did to kick off the new year), that doesn’t make me anything. Not labeling my diet takes of this insane pressure of going into the grocery store and feeling like I need to skip entire sections just because I don’t want to feel tempted to buy something. I can feel okay going out to eat because I don’t feel this weird pressure weighing down on my conscious that I’m going to be judged by this invisible group of other people who make the same food choices as me. I don’t like feeling like the Vegan club is following me around, sitting on my shoulder waiting to pounce if I ordered a breakfast burrito.
Although I will say I have stopped eating pig, purely for health reasons. Sure pigs are cute and all, but I’m not refusing to cook bacon to save them all by myself. After doing my own research, to me the fat content in pig doesn’t outweigh the benefits (like protein) that can be obtained from leaner cuts of meat. In general I have also cut out red meat, which was purely another health decision after doing extensive research about how those who don’t eat red meat often tend to live longer and can have healthier hearts and such. If you’re a regular red meat eater, I would suggest doing some research on that front and deciding if you really love that filet mignon as much as you think you do (side effects can include your wallet thanking you).
At least for 2015 though, I’m going to cut the crap of labeling my diet. I think that in the long run this will prevent me from falling into the diet trap so many Americans get stuck in these days. This way, without labeling my diet, I can put the focus on eating whole foods, extra leafy greens and veggies, with lean meats. That’s where the focus should be, but this obsession with labeling diets removes the focus from what really matters.