04/09/2014 05:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What I've Learned by Being a Vegetarian and Having Tattoos


People can be judgemental. I know, it's a shocker. They can get defensive if you do things differently than them, as if you are saying they are wrong even though you haven't said a word.

Ever since I was 12 or 13, I have been a vegetarian. Which back then, in like 1990, it was not as easy as now. Yeah, I'd heard hippies back in the day were vegetarians, but no one I knew. Or people went through a phase in college where they didn't eat meat but then went back to it because they said their body needed meat. I'm not going to get into that now. I say, to each his own. Cows eat grass. They grow just fine.

I've avoided telling people that I was a vegetarian. Certain people I knew would write me off, right then and there. I never say how I think meat is gross or that they should not eat meat. It has taught me when you go against the herd, you must value your freedom and living your truth above fitting in. You honor others' choices, as you would want them to honor yours. Do I think I'm more spiritual than those judgmental carnivores I've encountered? No. I don't compare myself to others or do better than/less than crap. That's for math class, not life. I don't even have a lot of vegetarian friends, because I don't care what they eat. These are just MY food choices. Well, they are the ones I've chosen for my kids too. When they get older, they can decide for themselves. It makes me feel really good to live like this. It's my lifestyle, as much organic and non-GMO, whole foods as I can. Sounds healthy right?

I've gotten judgement from strangers about my parenting based on our food choices. Because fast-food chicken nuggets are healthier than what I cook, right? My friends can eat that, and I won't judge their parenting. That's none of my business. One woman gave me a really hard time, and it pissed me off because it was rude and she was a smoker. She was older and probably smoked in her car and house around her kids 30 years ago. She might even still do stuff like that. Who knows? But that is negatively affecting their health. No question there. I'm an ex-smoker who never smoked around my kids. That's not fair to them. They don't want to smoke, as in inhaling secondhand smoke. My pediatrician's office has never made an issue about our vegetarianism, so lady, I think I'm good. They know every choice I make is well thought out and acting in the best interest of my kids.


My kids and I joke that if we had a nickel for every time someone said, "What do you eat?" we'd be millionaires. I said we should get notecards to write the foods down we do it eat and laminate them. We could show it to all those folks that ask, as if we are aliens who eat tinfoil. People literally forget there are other foods. Nowadays with all the meat alternatives, my kids have veggie hot dogs, veggie chix nuggets, and veggie ground beef. If it was up to me, I'd make everything from scratch and not have processed food, but they want macaroni and cheese and we need convenience sometimes. Parenting is all about balance, I've learned.

I can't tell you how many times I've been in a conversation where ladies have been speaking about how their teenage daughter wants to be a vegetarian and how they won't let them, deeming it bad, and I'm like... hey, vegetarian here... I think you have something hanging out of your mouth? Oh, it's your foot. Or how tattoos are gross, tacky, look bad, whatever. Again, I'm like... I have two and I'm sure to get more. Do I think people are not "cool" if they don't have tattoos? That actually makes me laugh, picturing everyone in the world with tattoos. It would be kind of creepy. I think "cool" is a vibe, not about tattoos, your clothes, size, age, hair, car, profession, or any of that. I like tattoos. It's art to me. Mine are subtle and you only see them on the beach. That is what works for me now. Worrying about whether I still like them in 40 years, when I'm 76, I think I'll be happy I'm alive and well.

Being different has taught me to be less judgmental. Vegetarians and tattooed peeps may be the norm for you, and it ain't no big thing. You might still think differently about people because of these two things, that they are different than you. Those are just aspects of the person, choices they make for themselves. They are not saying you are wrong if you do things the opposite way. Open you mind and you find your heart is more open and vice versa. Let's stop dividing each other over stupid stuff and focus on what we have in common.