I started an ethical eating stand when I was six years old. I can remember our kitchen, where I stood, and the entire conversation as if it was yesterday. I was helping my mom make dinner and was asked to unwrap that white paper package she had taken out of the fridge. There was this red chunk of something I had never seen before. Mom told me it was our steak. I remember questioning, at first in my mind, then out loud, “Where does it come from?” Mom told me it came from a cow. I couldn’t imagine how it came out of a cow—did it poop it out? Did it puke it up? When I was told that the cow was killed and cut up into different parts—brisket, ribs, hamburger, steaks—I was horrified.
The Start of a Meatless Journey
My two grandfathers were butchers, but at that young age, I wasn’t defying my family or questioning their values. I was just grossed out. From that moment until I was twelve, my parents made me eat the meat that was served. Liver sat on my plate and I could not leave the table until I’d eaten. Steak had to be burnt to a crisp and smothered in Heinz ketchup for me to consider it edible.
When I was twelve, my family went on a cruise in the Caribbean. My mom was tired of me ordering spaghetti every night and that night insisted I eat some meat. She ordered rabbit for me. By the time the dinner arrived all I could see in my mind was a puffy little tail, those big ears, and a cute button nose. I asked the waiter to take it away but my mother insisted I eat it. I stood up, screamed at the top of my lungs, “You can’t make me eat that!” and ran out of the dining room. It was never spoken about again, and that was the end of making me eat meat.
The only meat I consumed throughout my college years was all-beef Kosher hot dogs, tasty when smothered in ketchup and wrapped in bacon. There was no blood or bones, so it wasn’t as hard for me to reconcile with it. Who knew about nitrates back then?! The very day I graduated from college, I stopped eating any beef, chicken, or pork, embracing my role as an adult with my future ahead of me. That’s where I still stand, over forty-six years later.
Big Changes for Better Health
As I am constantly reading about food and nutrition, I decided to stop eating eggs about a year and a half ago. On some level I thought, if I haven’t eaten chicken in all these years, why do I eat eggs? They are like liquid chickens! They also carry bacteria so are sometimes used to deliver vaccines. Yuck.
My newest diet clean-up is living without sugar. I have craved sweets my entire life, and I believe my sugar consumption led to my breast cancer almost sixteen years ago—there was no history of cancer in my family. I have since read that sugar is “food” for cancer—and I had consumed a lot of it. It was in sauces, breads, my favorite ketchup, mayo…it is in fact a primary ingredient in many processed foods.
They say every addict has to hit their own bottom, and as a sugar addict I finally hit mine at the end of April 2022. I was making my famous double chocolate chip/walnut cookies for a party. After every few spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet, I would pop one into my mouth. I hadn’t eaten dinner and unconsciously and voraciously ate the chocolate chips and raw dough as I baked the double recipe. I became nauseous, dizzy, and had a terrible headache. The next day, my knees and hands were sore and swollen, and that lasted five days. That was my bottom. I was inflamed and suffering for the first time because of my sugar intake.
Living Sugar-Free and Dairy-Free
I am now over four months sugar- and dairy-free. Giving up sugar was a necessary choice after that overdose this past spring. No longer eating cheese and other dairy came more from an ethical point of view when I saw a video about dairy cows. I felt, again, that repulsion I had for meat as a child, but now it was about dairy. Cheese is made from milk solids that hold the natural sugar, so it makes sense a sugar addict would also crave cheese.
I can’t say I feel better, because I felt fine before. But I’m not in active “gotta-have-it” mode around anything with sugar and cheese. I never want to relive that painful inflammation and feeling as though I had aged twenty years overnight. My changes are physical but also both mental and emotional. I feel freer.
So, who’s in charge? I am! There are no longer boxes of Dots (cheap corn syrup and food dyes) consumed late at night or countless slices of cheese shared with my dogs. I consciously decide what I’m feeling and act on what I need to address issues without drowning myself in sweets. It took years, but with age comes wisdom!
Ask yourself and be honest: Do you have something you need to release in order to live more fully? Is there something hidden in your behavior that seems to control you? You will be happy you looked and happier if you act on it.
Sharon Sklar is in her 42nd year of private practice as a Certified Advanced Rolfer. State licensed and the only Rolfer in Central CT, Sharon works with direct manipulation of the soft tissue of the body and movement re-education over a ten-session series to help her clients feel freer, get more balanced, and reduce chronic pain. Great for athletes, children, and adults recovering from the stress, injuries, or traumas of life. Inquiries are encouraged! Call 860.561.4337 for more info or to schedule a consultation. Inquiries are encouraged!