Inspired by one holistic nutritionist’s recent coming out, I wanted to share my own coming out story. Alexandra Jamieson is a well known player in the industry who built her name while eating a vegan diet. She has since then reached a new chapter in her health, which for Alexandra meant eating meat again. Going through this same process myself, I wanted to build on her openness and remind people that it’s okay for us to change and it’s okay for others to change too.
Several months ago I met up with a friend for sushi. I used to love sushi before I eliminated all meat from my diet. I can still remember my very last time eating it. I had made the decision to go vegetarian and so I wanted to indulge in my very last spicy salmon roll. I went to one of my fave spots, ordered a roll to go, went back home and hid in my room eating it in shame. My mind was already ahead of the game and molding into the label I had unknowingly created for myself.
A year later I stopped eating dairy because of some mucous issues I was trying to resolve. The mucous didn’t go away, but I grew closer and closer to the vegan label others were giving me. I always told people, “I don’t eat meat or dairy and focus on plant foods,” but everyone just heard vegan. I would actually cringe when people called me that or politely correct them. Eventually, it just became easier to explain myself by saying I was vegan. My friends understood vegan. Strangers understood vegan. Servers and chefs understood vegan. Traveling to Korea as a vegan was fun because nobody understood vegan. I may have ended up with bacon in my bibimbap, but I was me again. Just me, no labels.
Fast forward back to my sushi dinner with my friend. I had been craving salmon for the last little while and so I confessed that I was going to order some salmon sashimi. I was going on and on about it, almost in a panic until he finally stopped me and said, “Sandra, it’s fish not crack. Enjoy it.”
That moment helped me shed my faux vegan skin. While I still think that most people can benefit from including more plant based foods in their diet, support animal rights, and love all the good the vegetarian and vegan community are doing – I’m not a vegan. I never was a vegan. What I eat does not define me or who I am. I strive to make the best choices for my health. Sometimes I don’t and that’s okay too.
Health is a journey, not a label.