By Elisa Jones / Grand Valley Trails Alliance
I’ve been shunned from my family.
Though they would disagree, I think. At least in part. I still see them. I still talk to them. They even talk to me on occasion. But they just don’t agree with some of my life choices.
I’m certain I’m not the only one who has been or is currently in this situation. We’ve all experienced alienation of some kind or another. I would love to be able to quote some rhetoric like, “To thine own self be true,” or, “All’s well that ends well,” or even, “Bake at 350 for 35 minutes,” but the only real answer is this: Treat people better than they treat you.
That being said, you are probably now anticipating some confession of alternative lifestyle choices. Well be not dissuaded, the confession comes.
Two years ago I was having Thanksgiving with the aforementioned family. The meal was delicious. The roasted butternut squash melted in your mouth, the mashed potatoes were light and creamy, the dressing was savory to the maximum level of savoriness. But the turkey was gross. No other adjective for it but that: gross. At least it was to me.
So the thought occurred to me: Why on God’s Green Earth am I subjecting myself to something this detestable? This detrimental? Why have I been eating meat at all? I don’t particularly care for it. I don’t enjoy the safety hazards associated with cooking it. What if I stopped eating meat entirely? And there it was. In that moment, I became a swear word: vegetarian.
This was unheard of in not just my family culture but in the entire community culture. At first, my family was skeptical. How could someone of my (at the time) athletic level survive without eating meat? But I did. Actually, I became….shocker here….HEALTHIER.
But it wasn’t the lack of meat in my diet that made me healthier. Au contrair! It was because the body does still need calories to function, and without meat in my diet I had to find those calories somewhere else. Somewhere healthier.
To sum up: My family didn’t understand. Pretty sure some of them still don’t. But they have learned that if the table spread lacks something green, I’m probably going hungry. And after all, despite the fact they all still DO eat animal flesh, they aren’t barbarians. In fact, I like to think that my healthy choices are in some way being metastasized into our family culture.
Despite their somewhat acceptance, or tolerance rather, of my meat-free lifestyle, they may never accept the other cause for alienation: fitness.
If you’d like to give a more balanced diet a try, here are some of my favorite websites for the pursuit:
Elisa Jones is currently the chairman of the board of the Grand Valley Trails Alliance. She has degrees in science, music and business, but most of all she considers herself a teacher. A mother of three, she is an avid trail runner and mountain biker who gets her kicks practicing yoga, advocating for strong schools and indulging in dark chocolate.