How My Dog Made Me A Vegetarian

Written by Meredith Flittner

As a graduate of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I am well versed in hundreds of different dietary theories, from Atkins to Ayurveda. When it comes to food, I think we should eat whatever makes us FEEL vibrant and energized (I guarantee it isn’t that day-old jelly donut hanging around in the break room at work). I coach my clients to eat intuitively and to understand their cravings, looking past that rumbling in their tummies. For me, that looks like a primarily meatless and dairy-free diet, with plenty of green vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. Reducing the intake of meat in my diet wasn’t an ethical choice, but a natural progression towards achieving my own optimal health. That said, I didn't hesitate to take a bite of my fiancé’s grass-fed, locally sourced, hormone-free hamburger every once in a while.

Four months ago, I fell in love with a puppy named Sampson. I rescued him from a local shelter and my whole world shifted. I started experiencing a more nurturing and selfless version of myself. I quickly developed a deep and spiritual bond with this little being, filled with unwavering, infinite love. He became the center of my universe.

Simultaneously and unconsciously, I started avoiding meat completely and felt my heart grow heavy when people around me consumed meat. I had heard multiple times before that pigs are smarter than dogs, but when I heard it recently it made me think… does that mean they're capable of the same abundance of love? Who decided dogs were pets and pigs were food? It apparently wasn’t an IQ test. My choice to pursue vegetarianism has become a decision made out of love and intuition, not judgment or health.

We have gotten so disconnected from ourselves, our intuition, and our emotions that eating has become robotic. We've lost touch with the foods that make us FEEL great. Maybe we don’t even realize how great we can feel?

Here are my top three tips for eating more intuitively:

1. Throw away your grocery list. 

If you are like me, you have gloated a time or two about making it in and out of Whole Foods in 15 minutes flat with a cart full of groceries. SLOW DOWN, take a breath. Make grocery shopping an experience, discover new foods, and ask your body (not your mind) what looks good.

2. Diversify.

Is oatmeal and coffee your go-to breakfast each day? Does girls night out land you at the same sushi restaurant weekly? Add some spice to your life! Not only is eating the same foods day in and day out robbing you of nutrients in other foods, it's blocking you from discovering foods that help your body and spirit thrive.

3. Cut yourself some slack.

As a specialist in food sensitivities, I recognize that certain foods (dairy and gluten, for example) don’t work for some people, but that doesn’t mean having a piece of pizza when you are visiting a friend in Chicago will kill you! Indulge on occasion and don’t beat yourself up about it.

Break free from the prison of dieting and learn how to eat intuitively. Your body, mind and spirit will thank you!

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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