Wait...I'm becoming a vegetarian? How did I get here?

Wait...I'm becoming a vegetarian? How did I get here?
I never thought I'd stopped eating meat.

Never in a million years did I ever think I’d stop eating meat. Why would I? It’s just something we do as Americans. I can remember being a little girl standing on a chair with my grandmother cleaning chitlins, something I thought I’d eat till the day I died. Even when I became a fitness instructor and was getting more health-conscious, I kept my dirty (stinking, putrid) little secret of eating chitlins private because I didn’t want to be judged for eating what I’d convinced myself was a delicacy, because it was just what my family did. But it wasn’t just that. I ate hog mogs, (which I don’t even wanna know what they really are). I’ve eaten pigs’ feet and tails. I loved cracklins, neck bones and ham hocks, and there was no reason to hide eating ham. Here come the holidays, bring on the big old juicy ham.

Well somewhere along the way eating pork became more and more taboo so I just stopped talking about it openly, so imagine my delight when the pork industry rebranded themselves with the glamorous campaign of becoming “the other white meat.” Finally, hard working, good hearted Americans could eat pork in peace.

Add to this my spirituality and I thought I was light years ahead of others who were so adamant about not eating pork. I don’t know what scripture they use to justify their decision but I was so quick to defend myself and my actions in my heart, not openly with them because who needs to argue about it–to each his own–because I had the perfect antidote. I had the catch all passage of scripture that I could use to silence those who argued against eating shellfish, red meat, McDonald’s pink meat, Subway’s bad bread, and any other food item you can think of. I had the magic, the real secret in the sauce. I hinged my every food choice on this passage right here:

“What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.” Matthew 15: 11

Hey, it came directly from Jesus’ mouth. You couldn’t tell me nothing.

But, as the primary cook in my household for years, I couldn’t help but feel repulsed sometimes when I saw blood coming out of meat. Or how funny I would feel after eating certain meals. Or how bad I would feel as an advocate for health and fitness when I knew I was not eating healthy foods on a regular basis. But, like my magical scripture, I would blanket my emotions under the catch all phrase,

“Everything in moderation.”

I can eat whatever I want whenever I want. Jesus said so!

I can eat whatever I want whenever I want. Jesus said so!

But like the perfect storm brooding it all came to a head recently after my mom moved in with my family.  My mother was a strong, vivacious, smart, world traveler who can now barely get around my house without fear of falling. She’s had several strokes and walks with a cane and takes several prescription drugs daily.

Recently, my arms felt like I’d been doing bicep curls even though I hadn’t lifted any weights that day, but my muscles just felt tight.  The Spirit led me to check my blood pressure and sure enough, my pressure was stroke-level high.  My mom told me that my numbers weren’t good and encouraged me to take a couple of her pills because high blood pressure is hereditary. Her mother had it. She has it. And I will have it.

And right then and there, just like the hurricanes that have devastated so many cities, states, and countries recently, a flood of emotion swept me, and I said every Christian’s response to something ludicrous,

“The devil is a liar!”

I’m not living my life a slave to pills, afraid of having a heart attack or strokes. I’m making some changes.

In that magical moment, it was as if God began to show me so many things I never ever expected to learn or discover. But hey, that’s how God works right?

First, it was going to a steak house with a group of fitness professionals and everyone but my mentor who I loved and admire ate steak but her.  She’d seen “What the Health?” and sat there just as nicely and said, “No thank you, I’m not eating that,” and then ordered vegetable side dishes that looked better than the pounds of meat we did. I ordered my steak medium rare but there was no denying it was pink and bloody. It literally made me ill.

I’d already seen “Food, Inc.” years prior and even used it as a teaching tool for college students I taught health and wellness to but I justified continuing eating meat because I thought it was overly sensationalized. They don’t really do all of that to animals I told myself.

But, the sequence of events had already been activated.  For years, while teaching I affirm,

“I am open and receptive to all the good the Universe has for me. Bring it!”

And that is exactly what occurred.

I watched “What the Health?” and “Food, Inc.” and “Forks Over Knives” and any and everything else Netflix had to offer and I was mortified. I was truly ashamed of myself for ignoring everything God had been trying to show me for years but that I’d blindly ignored to suit my own comforts.

I don’t want to have to take high blood pressure pills and cholesterol pills and diabetes pills and all the other plethora of prescription drugs society makes it seem normal to need.  I don’t want to be a fitness instructor with fast food bags in my car ashamed of my diet because I know I don’t eat clean but I justify it because now I just get flame broiled meat and not the pink meat because this meat is better than that meat. I don’t want to be the ignorant person who continues to buy cheap products because I lie to myself that eating clean is too expensive or time consuming. And I don’t want to be a hypocrite because I have made so many statements about being proud of having no chemicals in my hair and yet I eat processed, fried foods and meats from animals that have a soul–and I’m calling myself a Christian. How ridiculous is that!?!?!

Seeing children just naturally gravitate to animals without fear did something to me.

Seeing children just naturally gravitate to animals without fear did something to me.

As God would have it, on day three of choosing never to eat meat again, we took our 8yr-old twin daughters to County Line Orchard in Indiana to pick apples and pumpkins, and they also have a petting zoo. To see the turkeys and cows and sheep and chickens did something to me, not to mention seeing how the all the little children loved the animals and were unafraid to pet them and feed them.  I didn’t want to lose it in front of the kids but I could have just sat on the ground and wept for all the animals I played a part in slaughtering to fill the desires of my gut.  It sickened me to consider that there was no difference in eating those animals than there was in eating a dog, cat, or rat.  I know when I’m on the right path because in my soul I feel an overwhelming need to repent. I am crying even now as I write this.

Then I thought…

How many other aspects of my life have I justified for my own selfish gain in ignorance and disbelief? How many people think they have to have hereditary illnesses that can simply be remedied and cured by removing animal products from their diet? What would my mother’s life be like had she used all of her scholarly and world-traveling-knowledge to change her diet beyond just lowering her sodium intake?

It's kind of sickening when you look at eating meat this way.

It’s kind of sickening when you look at eating meat this way.

Already, I know my family is thinking, “Here she goes again.” I smoked cigarettes for years and to my family who continue to smoke, they wish me well but think my strong advocation that others quit is me “doing too much.”  Most of my family lead sedentary lifestyles so I’m already ostracized for my desire to exercise and help others get fit.  I have a home-based health and wellness business that most of them don’t support by using my products or even giving referrals to help my business grow–and that hurts–but I just keep on because I know I’m doing the right thing.

This is a new, exciting chapter in my life that I never thought I’d experience:

I am proud to be a health-conscious, real and true clean eating, vegetarian.

And my prayer is more people will spend some time with animals to know that what we are doing by eating them is wrong and wake up like I did and just stop.

It’s really just that simple.

Stop aiding in the criminal acts of torture of animals and don’t eat them. It’s just that simple.

About me: I’m a wife and mom of six daughters known as “The Fitness Evangelist” because of my ability to take ordinary fitness classes and turn them into worshipful events.  I also help people with their health and fitness goals any where in the world through my business with Total Life Changes. For more information about me, you can visit my website at http://elanainspires.com or go directly to my TLC website for product information http://totallifechanges.com/elanainspires.

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    Elana Anthony

    I am a wife and mother blessed to have six daughters who fill my home with love and laughter. My passion is writing and teaching, but most especially inspiring people to live healthy lives in my faith-filled fitness classes. My dream is to have my own faith and fitness TV show where people from all the world collectively join together on our "temple" building project of enjoying optimal health. I am a certified group fitness instructor by the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA), and earned graduate degrees in Writing from DePaul University, in addition to a degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion from the California University of Pennsylvania. I have seen and experienced the hand of God work and move in my life, and consider it an honor and blessing to be saved to serve.

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