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Proud of Me – May 15, 2000

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm proud of myself. Today marks my one-year anniversary as a vegetarian. I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian which means I will eat dairy and eggs, but I won't eat anything (as my sister puts it) "with a face."

I'm not completely strict (there have been one or two times when I just *needed* that Kraft Salmon flavored cream cheese or that egg roll), but I have been earnest and honest in my efforts at eating more humanely.

I've come up with a philosophy that works for me--if there is a choice, I try to choose the option involving the least amount of suffering. If there is no choice (like trying to find work shoes that are not made of leather--yeah), then I make myself aware of the sacrifice that went into that product and then use it to its fullest. I know it sounds like rationalization, but it's my life and I need a philosophy I can live with.

When I decided to go veggie, there were a couple of people among my "friends" who were less than supportive. They thought it was just another fad with me and had little faith in my ability to maintain this choice. Worse than that, they all as much said it was just a ploy on my part to get attention. (Sad, I know, but they were my friends. And it wasn’t like this was the first I’d announced a radical food decision.)

I know that as Catholics and women, we have been brainwashed into feeling we shouldn't be vocal about our accomplishments. But this is something that means a lot to me. So with your indulgence, in a little self-congratulatory happy dance, I will now share a list of things that I am particularly proud about:

1. I'm proud that I took the action, instead of just thinking about it for my entire life.

2. I'm proud that I really *thought* about my reasons behind becoming a vegetarian and the moral and personal issues which prompted my decision. I'm glad that I did it because I wanted to, rather than because "it was the right thing to do." (BTW, I don't think that vegetarianism *is* "The Right Thing to Do." It is a choice, like every other choice in our lives. And what is right for me may be absolutely wrong for you. In five years, it may be right for you and absolutely wrong for me. That's the beauty of individuality.)

3. I'm proud that I accepted this as a daily process, rather than an all-or-nothing decision. At the very beginning, I decided to take it day by day--today, I choose not to eat meat or seafood. If one day I'm in a Chinese restaurant and I know the wontons have meat, I ask myself, "Do I want to eat meat today?" Then I choose. Mostly, I choose not to. If I do decide that that won-ton has my name written all over it, well, I find an awareness about the life that was taken for me to have the meat. I try to appreciate the sacrifice. I enjoy the hell out of the won-ton. Then I move on to the next choice.

4. I'm proud that I'm a vegetarian when no one is watching. I'm proud that when I slip, I slip in front of others without shame.

5. I'm proud that I have learned the difference between expressing my beliefs and trying to convert someone. I have no intention of trying to convert anybody, but I am happy to discuss my philosophies with anyone who is interested.

So that’s my Proud Of Me list for today.