If you look through my Instagram, you will find one picture that contains a meat-based meal. The rest are all vegetarian (or pescetarian). To be honest, I went to check if I even had any meat on there and realised that I’ve almost no pictures of food on my Instagram . This need to be fixed.
I initially wanted to write this post differently, focusing more on my eating habits, why I chose to limit my meat consumption and how it’s working for me. But then I realised that my diet is a great prompt for a discussion about something else.
Because, if you spied on me for a few days or weeks, you’d realise that around 90% of the meals I cook for myself are vegetarian. Some weeks it’s even closer to a 100%. Some weeks I’m pretty much vegan. I am not doing it because I love animals so much (although I really do like them, I’m just not that sensitive), nor because I care about the planet (though I care about it more than I used to). I do it because I feel better when I eat less meat. Plain and simple. But when my body screams for a bacon bap, a bacon bap it will get.
And this vegan burger
Makes me neither less, nor more excited to eat it than this pork-laden bowl of ramen
Because, you know what? Both were delicious in their own way. I just opt for the former more often than not.
But why am I telling you this in the first place?
Because I could just give up meat, call myself a vegetarian, and life would be easier, because I wouldn’t have to explain to everyone I go out to eat with that although I do eat meat, I don’t want to eat it today, so can we please not go to that place with no veggie options.
A while ago, one of the bloggers I follow wrote a little Facebook post in which she pointed out the impact rearing animals has on the environment. She wasn’t telling anyone to become vegetarian, just encouraging to limit their meat consumption. She was immediately showered with comments saying things along the lines of “people have been eating meat for generations” and “it’s not natural to not eat meat”. I will not concern myself with that. At least not today. The comments that really attracted my attention were from people who said they tried to be vegetarian but couldn’t sustain it.
And that really made me stop and think. You know why? Because instead of doing what I do and just having a bacon bap, then going back to the veggies, they ditched the whole idea of eating vegetarian and went back to eating meat full time. Where’s logic in that.
And that’s what bothers me about calling oneself ‘vegetarian’. It’s such an all-or-nothing approach to life. So black and white. Obviously, if you never eat meat and never have those bacon bap urges (sorry I keep on using that example, but I just love my bacon), no harm in calling yourself a veggie.
But the truth is, we are, first and foremost, humans. And many people seem to forget that, by defining themselves through various labels. I am not big on ‘following the crowd’, to be honest.
Yes, I am a woman, there is not doubt about that. But that fact doesn’t define me beyond my physical appearance, love for dresses and excitement I feel when MAC release a new limited edition collection (though I’m sure Wayne Goss or Kevin James Bennett might feel similar excitement and they’re both decisively male). It doesn’t mean I am a better or worse employee. A nicer or less nice a human. A better or worse citizen.
Yes, I am Polish. But beyond my native language and writing on my passport, it doesn’t define me. I am not more or less patriotic than someone else. Not a better or worse host. It doesn’t make me a better or worse employee, though I’ve heard both accounts.
Yes, I eat meat, but it doesn’t mean I’m ignorant of the wellbeing of the animals and the planet Earth.
Yes, I am a blonde, but it doesn’t mean I’m stupid (quite the contrary, to be honest. And yes, I dye my hair red.)
Yes, I am white, but it doesn’t mean I am superior or inferior to those of other skin colours. I am just different.
Yes, I like make up, and getting my nails done, but I’m hardly an empty-headed princess, who thinks about nothing other than her appearance. That would be so damn boring…
Yes, I am an atheist, but it changes nothing in my day-to-day life, and I don’t hate on your religious beliefs. I just don’t share them.
Honestly, I could go on like this for the next few hours.
Because all those things make up who I am, they definitely do – I probably would be a completely different person if I was born in a different country, to a different family, and was a man. I don’t deny it. But none of those things, individually, defines me. That’s why I don’t go around telling everyone I’m an atheist unless they ask me, because there literally is not point adding yet another label to the arsenal I’m already described with. Especially one so insignificant.
I don’t like being limited. Just like vegetarianism is an all-or-nothing label, so is being blonde. Or an atheist. And what if I believe in fairies, am I still an atheist? And if I dye the ends of my hair purple, am I still a blonde?
Writing about it reminds me of a girl I met once, who said she’s often called ‘an oreo’ – because she’s black on the outside and white on the inside. On one hand, it kind of makes me feel weird, because what on earth does being ‘white on the inside’ even mean? On the other, I find it very funny, because she really embraced the fact that her skin colour doesn’t define her.
I don’t like people making the world black and white. As long as you’re happy and not harming others, what does it matter if you break your vegetarian diet with a bowl of pork ramen? The same way being an investment banker doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a money-grabbing monster straight from Wolf of Wall Street, being a doctor doesn’t make you an angel, and being a Muslim doesn’t make you a terrorist.
Many things come together to form one you. Don’t let the labels be more important than what you feel like on the inside. And when someone tells you that they ‘wouldn’t have expected this from you‘, just tell them ‘oh, baby, I’m so many things you don’t know about’.
This is me. A make up-loving, Polish, business-studying, sorta-vegetarian female. But first and foremost, I’m a human. Hello, my name is Gaby.