What’s a “natural-born vegetarian” anyway? Well, I’ve pretty much hated meat products my entire life. Personally, it’s never been about the cruelty to the animals—it’s about the horrible taste of them.
When I was younger, maybe around 5 or 6, my mom would take me to McDonald’s every once in a while for dinner. I would always get my usual: a Happy Meal with French fries, a soda, a toy, and (unfortunately) a plain hamburger. Quickly enough, I would devour my French fries and soda, but my mom would always nag, telling me I had to eat at least half of my hamburger before we could go home. I was never happy about that. When my mom actually cooked, she tried to make well-balanced meals—breaded chicken, a side of some type of pasta, and a few veggies. I always ended up scraping off the breading from the chicken and ate that, leaving the actual chicken untouched. However, I always proudly finished everything else on my plate! My mom was unimpressed.
It got to the point where I would only eat my few vegetables for dinner and then go to bed still hungry because I just detested meat that much. By the time I was 7 or 8, my mom completely gave up on feeding me any type of meat. When she cooked dinner, she made the same meal for herself, my dad, and my sister, and then a specialized one for me, typically a pasta and a vegetable. I could tell my mom was getting frustrated with me, though. After all, a diet consisting of mainly carbs and grains isn’t all too healthy. But I don’t blame her. She’s never been a vegetarian and she never had such trouble feeding my sister; my whole family loved meat! So why didn’t I?
My whole life I’ve wanted to like meat, but could never bring myself to happily swallow it down. As a younger kid, I had the hardest time going to my friends’ houses and staying for dinner. Their parents would always tell me how they were making chicken or burgers for dinner, and I would awkwardly tell them that I don’t like meat. “Oh, so you’re a vegetarian?” they’d ask. Ashamed, I’d always respond, “No,” because, well, I wasn’t. Does someone who doesn’t like vegetables call themselves a “true carnivore?” No. I pretty much stopped eating over at my friends’ houses early on. I just felt like a nuisance and I didn’t want someone else’s parents making me specialized meals. I was embarrassed, yet there was honestly nothing I could do about it.
Throughout my life I’ve had friends, boyfriends, roommates, etc. who never understood why I don’t eat meat. I don’t entirely blame them because I don’t fully understand why, either. However, I’ve gotten into a lot of arguments over it.
“But why don’t you just keep eating it until you like it?“
“It was probably a certain kind of hamburger that you didn’t like.“
“…but you still eat chicken, though, right?”
“I don’t understand how you just don’t like it.”
Questions and comments like these are what really get to me. If you don’t like, for example, carrots, I probably wouldn’t question you on it like others have done to me about meat.
“But why don’t you just keep eating carrots until you like them?“
“It was probably a certain brand of carrots that you didn’t like.”
“…but you still like cooked carrots, though, right?“
“I don’t understand how you just don’t like carrots. I love them!“
Sounds ridiculous, right? It’s not like I can just make myself change my taste buds and enjoy eating meat. I don’t eat it because I don’t like it. Why torture myself?
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve tried to explain this to everyone who doesn’t understand my diet. Some get it and respect it while others still struggle with it. At one point, I got so fed up with the questions that I just started to tell people that I was a vegetarian. They never questioned me about it because I guess they understood why a vegetarian doesn’t eat meat, saving me from the frustration. However, I never liked to be labeled as a vegetarian because I’m not doing it for the same reasons as everyone else. Not even close.
A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting with my mentor and fellow interns and somehow began discussing my blog. My mentor asked me why I chose to become a vegetarian, and I shyly told her that I never really chose to—I’ve just never liked the taste of meat. One of the other interns said, “Oh! So you’re just a natural-born vegetarian, then.” I think this was the first time in my life that someone accepted my eating habits without ever once questioning me about it. I felt a sense of tranquility because she understood. Ever since then, I’ve labeled myself as: Melissa Mott— “Natural-Born Vegetarian.” And you know what? I’m definitely not ashamed of that.
Click over here to read why actors from AMC’s The Walking Dead are going vegetarian, too!