I was never a big meat-eater. I remember eating and enjoying hamburgers as a young teen, but I've almost always been happier with just the pasta, bread, or potatoes. The summer after my junior year of high school I worked with a woman who was a few years older and in college. She was a vegetarian, ate a lot of yogurt and granola, and carried a gigantic reusable water bottle with her everywhere she went. I was somewhat smitten. I wanted to be just like her (other than all that running, of course). At the end of the summer she went back to college, and I started my senior year of high school.
When I cautiously expressed my desire to go vegetarian, my step-mother immediately quashed the possibility. As long as I lived in her house, I would eat the meat I was served each night for dinner (meat, green vegetable, and starch were doled out each and every night come hell or high water). With no other course of action, I bided my time until I went away to college.
Shortly before Thanksgiving break I warned her over the phone that I was now an ovo-lacto vegetarian. In other words, no turkey for me please. She was horrified and unsure what I would eat for Thanksgiving dinner, never mind that the sides were always my favorite part. I told her that as long as there was an apple pie I would be fine.
And I was, but my approach to vegetarian eating was not a healthy one. People kidded me that I was a pastatarian or a starchatarian. I didn't eat a lot of vegetables and including protein wasn't a high priority for me. A couple years later I began craving tuna fish regularly, and around the same time I contracted a virus that I just couldn't shake. Clearly my body was trying to tell me that I needed to take better care of it. I began eating seafood occasionally (thus morphing into a pescetarian).
Eventually I went back to eating meat but, with only a few exceptions, never really enjoyed it. While with FF I ate more meat than ever before, as he is an extreme consumer of meat products. Often he would have a gigantic bloody steak for dinner with a side of chicken breast. Like many meat-eaters, he would never be able to kill and slaughter the animals he eats. I can't help but wonder how long it would take him (or other meat-eaters like him) to recover from seeing the inner workings of a slaughterhouse and to return to eating meat.
Now that I've been on my own for over a year, I've gradually returned to my pescetarian ways. I'd rather not support the meat industry or the negative impacts it has on the environment. I know there are problems with the fishing industry, but I don't believe it has to be all or nothing. I can do what I am comfortable doing right now, and that's good enough. I haven't eaten a hamburger in almost 15 years, nor have I wanted to. I would, however, have a hard time cutting tuna from my diet.
I'm sure I would've become a vegetarian at some point even without "A's" influence. We lost touch sometime after she completed the Appalachian Trail; now she's one of those old friends I hope to find on Facebook someday.