2 days after Christmas I decide to become a vegetarian. Each year our neighbour invites us over for a holiday meal, so this year I asked if it would be okay if I brought over my own food. Of course he said yes. It felt good to say it out loud and make it official like that.

January is the beginning of a new year. A time to take stock. It is also my birthday month and so I become another year older. It always makes me take a look at my life; to see if I am on the right path. The path I want to be on.

I think I am. I hope I am. I feel that I am.

I knew I was going to be facing challenges; after all I have never declared myself a vegetarian before. Sure, I have had vegetarian meals, in fact many over the years, but I always went back to eating meat. How would I do this full-time? Would I be able to sustain it? Would I get cravings? Would I give in to them? My gut told me I was doing the right thing, but secretly I was shaking in my boots.

At first it was so easy, and I jumped right in. The food was so delicious and I felt so energized. I hadn’t had this much energy in such a long time; I was on a food high. Everyone around me was eating meat and cheese and breads and all the other foods that I spent so much of my previous life eating; and I was enjoying avocados and salads and fresh fruit juices. Not just eating them, but ENJOYING them.

Then it happened. It was nearing that time of the month. You know what I mean ladies….aunt flow was coming for a visit. Yes, my menstral cycle was approaching. Everything had been going so smoothly up until that point, and now I was craving meat. But not just any meat. I remember the exact moment very clearly. My 8 year old daughter Jayla said to me, “mommy, you know what would be good for supper?”, and inside my head I was thinking…”please, let her say ‘burgers'”. Yes, burgers. The craving was so strong for burgers. It reminded me of when I had been pregnant and a craving would come over me and nothing could take my mind off of the craving until I finally would give in and have it. This was just like that.

Can you still call yourself a vegetarian if you eat meat once a month during your period?? If once a month, on the full moon, I turn into a howling carnivore and scarf down a beef burger?

So, I ate the burger.

And I felt guilty.

And then I decided to turn it around and love myself anyway. Even though I am not perfect. I turned that guilt into love. Love for all beings and especially for me. Because I really need it right now. Because this is going to be a difficult journey and I need to be kind to myself along the way. To take my time. To allow myself these little “slips” back into my old patterns. My body was craving something and it turned to what it knew from past experience would satisfy it. In time I know I will be able to find new alternatives. It’s exciting and scary at the same time.