Why I'm eating meat again

After six years of being a pescatarian, I have broken up with that term and started eating meat again.

This is a big deal for me. Because six years is longer than a minute. And because this is more meaningful than a diet change.

The reason I chose not to eat meat was because I believe in the ethical treatment of animals.

It’s important to me to know what I’m putting in and on my body, and I was horrified to discover how animals were treated before making their way to my dinner plate. I'm pro-happy animals.

Why I'm eating meat again

When I began eating a pescatarian diet, I was in a different financial situation and it made financial sense to stop eating all meat rather than purchasing the “good” stuff — local, grass-fed, organic, free-range, yada yada yada. I kept eating fish because I knew I’d like to have some kind of animal protein sometimes — but stuck to wild caught fish. Because farmed fish doesn’t align with my principles.

Along with helping my bank account, the decision to become pescatarian also fed my ego (though I would never admit it out loud). Like somehow I was a better human for making this altruistic choice and I wanted to let people know what I good person I was through this self-defining label.

Why I'm eating meat again

As far as adjusting to a meat-free life, it wasn’t hard for me. Once I knew how the animals were treated I didn’t have a desire to eat them. And I never felt as though I was missing out on something. When I did want something “meaty” I would make an alternative — usually out of soy. But after discovering that my body doesn’t really like soy, I had to stop doing that. Again, no big deal.

And then this happened.

I was at Natural Grocers (my favorite grocery store!), walking by the meat aisle to make my way to bread. I was planning to make spaghetti for dinner that night and had a thought that triggered what ended up being an empowering conversation.

Nothing like having life-changing internal dialogue in Aisle 1. 

It went something like this:

Meat sauce sounds good.
But I don’t do that, I can’t believe I’m even thinking that.
Shame, shame, shame.
I’m a pescatarian.
Wait. That’s a label. Why am I married to a label? Just because I’ve been doing it for years?
That’s not a good reason to keep doing something.
Non-attachment, Cara. Non-attachment.
Being a pescatarian does not define me.
This is good meat. I actually am OK with this meat. It’s local, grass-fed, free-range beef. Happy cows. And it sounds good. Why wouldn’t I eat it? I want it.

I triumphantly put the meat in my cart, feeling liberated as I shed the label of “pescatarian" I'd been holding onto for the past six years. My husband’s jaw dropped when I came home from the store.

Since then, I’ve been eating meat.

Why I'm eating meat again - Cara McDonald Yoga

I don’t eat it every day. And I’m picky about the meat I’ll eat because I still believe in the ethical treatment of animals.

I feel good and I trust my body’s cravings. Surprisingly, my body has been doing better on beef than chicken. So mostly I’ve been adding some local cow to my diet. (Still avoiding cow’s milk because that just feels unnatural and weird to me. Personal choice.)

This is a long post to share with you why I’m eating meat again. I’m sharing it because maybe you’re also attached to a label.

As yogis we are always curious. Always wanting to explore why. Why do I eat meat? Why don’t I eat meat?

We also practice non-attachment. Are you attached to a label? The label of pescatarian, vegetarian or vegan? Or a label not related to food, such as the following:

  • I am a super mom
  • I am fat
  • I am ugly
  • I am a copywriter
  • I am a college graduate
  • I am a yogi 

Even labels that seem positive can be limiting.

I don’t want to be confined in any box that prevents me from discovering my true, spiritual self.

We use labels because they help us classify things. When I’m talking about a group of people who practice yoga, it’s helpful to call them “yogis” if I’m telling a story. I do it on this blog all the time. Including this post. And telling someone that I’m a copywriter gives them some context about what I do for a living.

The key is not to become attached to these labels.

Why I'm eating meat again - Cara McDonald Yoga

Dissolve these labels as much as possible and be open to exploring what the universe has to offer — it could be a completely different path than the boxes you’ve confined yourself in.

Attachment is the strongest block to realization.
— Neem Karoli Baba

So you see, this isn’t just about me not eating meat anymore. This is about me dissolving a label my ego has been holding onto for the past six years. This is about staying true to my values while honoring my body, and not keeping myself in a box just because I’ve been in it for a long time.

I am not defined by a label.

I am. And that is enough.