I’ll be honest with you. A plant-based diet isn’t for everyone. There are times it’s not for me.

More on that later.

But I’ve come to understand that it’s the best option for me. It might not be right for you, but I do think a few more fruits and veggies never hurt anyone.

Unless of course you’re allergic to one.

In that case, steer clear. Maybe try something a little safer. Pears? Is anyone allergic to pears?

Back to the original topic.

I like animals.

If you get to know me, you’ll hear me say this about five times a day. Driving by some cows on the side of the road (yes, there are cows in random places in Orlando): I like cows. Running past some dogs on the street: I like dogs. Stalking some cats (so I can pet them, calm down) in the neighborhood: I like cats. Watching some nature program on Netflix: I like sloths. Playing videos of baby hippos on repeat: I like hippos.

You get the idea.

I can’t stand the idea of hurting animals. I cry like a baby whenever I (stupidly, so stupidly) watch a documentary about the food industry or animal cruelty. If you’re into that kind of masochism, might I suggest Food, Inc.; Forks Over Knives; or The Ghosts in Our Machine?

I sleep better knowing no animals suffered because of me. Friends, not food.

I feel better.

I can’t tell you how many times I was almost late for homeroom in high school because I had a sudden and very urgent need to use the bathroom. I wish I looked like Angela Chase running down the halls, but I’m sure my face was more pain than gorgeous teenage angst.

(Side note: Can we get a My So-Called Life reboot? They resurrected shows that should have stayed buried, for Christ’s sake. Looking at you, Fuller House.)

It took me years to figure out every kid’s go-to breakfast—milk and cereal—was the cause of my tummy troubles. I had a hard time accepting my lactose intolerance. But eventually I understood ice cream, cheese, and yogurt weren’t working for me.

Trust me, though, I have no concerns whatsoever about how much better my tummy feels and how much better I can breathe without dairy in my life.

I never liked meat anyway.

I was a picky eater growing up. Thankfully, my parents weren’t the type to lord over you until you finished every last morsel on your plate.

At least, not that I remember.

I started out eating what everyone else was eating. But I began to realize my tastes were a bit different. 

It took me a long time to transition. I may have used the old “I don’t eat red meat” excuse way too many times while still chowing down on some chicken. Bacon? Bring it.

But eventually I no longer wanted to eat meat. Haven’t had a bite in ten years. (Except when people don’t properly label their food at potlucks. Or when servers bring you a crabby burger instead of a veggie burger. Those bites landed in the trash pretty quickly.)

And you know what? I’m still alive. Thanks to the non-meat eating? In spite of the inadvertent meat eating?

Here’s the thing though. I want to be upfront with you from the beginning so you don’t feel betrayed if some photos surface of me enjoying a slice of pizza and a beer or a frozen yogurt with way too many toppings. 

I doubt any paparazzi will ever be following me around that said photos would ever be publicized, but you never know.

I’m not into labeling how I eat. It’s easier for other people to label me as vegan or plant-based. And I’ll smile because it keeps the peace and because it really is how I eat 99% of the time. 

But I won’t be made to feel guilty if I consciously choose to eat something. 

(By the way, I’m purposefully not using the word “indulge” here because I think it sends the wrong message. Food is only really indulgent because we make it so. And when we make something indulgent, we feel like we’re cheating or doing something wrong, and a vicious cycle begins. Let’s not do that, okay?)

Make no mistake. My body makes me feel guilty enough. I itch. I bloat. I break out. I don’t sleep. I literally feel like I am crawling out of my skin.

And it all reminds me why I choose to eat the way I choose to eat. Most of the time, anyway.