Becoming a Vegetarian

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People make dramatic changes in their food choices for all sorts of reasons. It could be because of a health challenge, a weight issue, environmental concerns, ethical beliefs and so much more. When I was a teenager, I wanted to become a vegetarian simply because I loved animals and did not desire to eat them. My parents were opposed to the idea, viewing it as a teenage rebellion.

The summer before my senior year in high school, I had the opportunity to live in India as a foreign exchange student for three months. My host family opened their home and hearts to me as their American daughter. It was a summer rich with life-changing experiences and deeply held relationships. In a culture which views vegetarianism as the norm, I readily embraced my Indian family’s way of eating. Everything was so dramatically different from my usual way of life that it was easy for me to make the transition. I never missed eating meat.

Upon returning home to the States, one way to keep the spirit of my Indian adventure with me was to remain vegetarian. My parents honored my decision with two requests. First, was to get annual check ups with our doctor so they knew I was healthy. Second, was to study nutrition so I had some idea of what I was doing. In 1972 there were not much many books on the topic but I found my way reading Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe as well as books by Adelle Davis.

Now, 45 years later, we can thank my parents for starting me on the road to becoming a nutritionist. There have been many twists and turns along the way but those stories are for another time.