My parents never balked at this change in my diet and just bought whatever grocery items I needed as long as I prepared most of my own foods. I never asked anyone to share my personal decision nor did I think that eating meat was sacrilegious. At twelve, I had reached the Piagetian stage of formal operations and was able to reason that other people did not all think like me and made their own decisions--which had nothing to do with me. At this time, I lost all idealistic perceptions of others, mainly adults. I had a crush on a male teacher at that time but it evaporated as I realized that he was no different than me, a mere mortal, who was human just like me. I never had a hero after that as I had learned a long time before, that no one could rescue me from pain and anguish but myself.
I had a tremendous amount of free-floating hostility within me as well as downright aggression--I thought being a pacifist (which included being a vegetarian) could control my inner feelings of rage. But it only sublimated those feelings for a while. I sat quietly while peers at school made fun of me. But I learned the truth about what worked when one of my siblings brought down a boy who taunted me about my wild kinky hair on the school bus with threats of violence. My pacifism did not work. It only served to make me angrier. As the years went by, I learned to explore my anger and aggressive feelings and to allow them to come to the surface and not to be afraid of them. By the time I was 24 and walking through the isles of Key Foods in Manhattan looking at rows of tuna fish, I realized that I no longer needed to hang onto my role as a vegetarian to prove that I was a "good" person. I was a decent person all ready. I will never forget the day I tried a can of tuna--it was magnificent.
I still decided for health purposes that I would not eat red meat as I had high cholesterol even in my 20's but I also had anemia. Then at 37, when I had a heart attack, I decided I had had enough of trying so hard to be healthy. It obviously did not work for me. I had run myself into the ground, exercised, given up meat and did everything I could to be healthy and it all backfired. I went to Mortons in Nashville and ate filet mignon and have not stopped since. I still try to eat healthy and have very little meat but it is just because I have to watch cholesterol, not for any psychological reasons.
I now look skeptically at people who preach vegetarianism to others as a type of religion--they are often the same ones who tout peace and brotherhood while trying to mask their feelings of aggression. My husband once said that he did not worry about violence from peace activists but frankly, I would rather hang out with a crowd of hard core gun addicts. I find them more capable of understanding and controlling their own aggression. People who preach peace in the face of appalling violence deny their aggression and target it at others who are not deserving of it or who are trying to protect them. I cannot justify that.
Here is an example of what I mean about using food as a method of virtue and pacifism. Notice that the bloated Americans are eating "fat turkeys" while the innocent peace activists are eating salmon, lentils and rice. With this holier-than-thou attitude, should they be eating salmon at all? Thanks to Professor Althouse for pointing out this article.