Yesterday we woke up at 6 am to shoot a video about the local market here in Campeche. These markets are nothing like the ones we have in Europe, and we were very grateful for our friend Jorge (who works in the market, selling children’s backpacks) to show us around this jam-packed labyrinth of people, animals and objects.
Since Andy’s very picky about his food (he basically eats plant-based only), whereas I like tasting and exploring local dishes, it was up to me to be the guinea pig for the food tasting. Our idea? Capture this place’s unique atmosphere. I was thrilled and I was ready! 💪🏼 Plus, we had the best local guide there could be, taking us from one shop to the next, his friends happily showing us their craftsmanship and their goods. ➡️ For a visual tour of our experience, check out the YouTube video below. With this article, my goal is to share the spiritual and physical impact this experience had on me.
To be honest, I thought the stomachache and overall feeling of unease, sadness and disgust I felt after the tastings would be over by dinnertime. Those of you who know me know how much I love to eat, and that once that empty stomach calls, I’m ready to rumble! But this time was different. As the hours passed after our morning visit, I didn’t feel better. Actually, I felt worse. I felt disgusted. I felt like all that death and suffering I witnessed had crawled beneath my skin and was weighing down my spirit and each and every cell in my body.
In the video you will see the local specialties I tasted during our visit. Watching myself on screen, I can’t help but feel sorry and compassionate for that girl I see, nervously laughing and smiling at the camera when faced with the local dishes proudly presented to her to be immortalized on camera… I see a girl trying to please everyone around her: Jorge’s friends who so generously shared their foods for the video we were shooting + Jorge who was so happy to show us around and have us taste his favorite dishes + even Andy who stood behind the camera – even though he himself looked clueless and disgusted at the dishes I was supposed to taste. A girl stuck in a dilemma between her personal values and other people’s expectations.
You need to know I very rarely eat meat, never ever eat pork and certainly don’t eat any fatty, fried food. Doing so at 7 am on an empty stomach was definitely NOT a great idea. It took me about 20 minutes to finish the first specialty I was presented with. I just kept nibbling on it while we continued strolling along the market lanes, feeling bad about throwing it away. The piece I had been offered was huge… (sigh)! 🙄 Only 15 minutes later I already felt the burden on my stomach. My body was struggling. But the tasting hadn’t ended yet! Our friend Jorge had another very special surprise for me. Before I could say anything, he had already gone to speak with another restaurant owner in the market – a guy selling one of the most expensive specialties… (no pressure!). How could I refuse to taste something (for free) which is considered expensive by locals – including our friend, who only eats this dish as a delicacy at special events?! Oh boy.
Looking back, I seriously don’t know how I did it. But I did. I actually swallowed two small pieces of what was in this broth, under close supervision of the owner who stood right next to me the entire time, enumerating the various ingredients, how this dish is prepared and reminding me how treasured it is by locals. 😳
All I know is I felt worse and worse as time passed. We left the market by noon and at that time I seriously felt like throwing up. Not because the food was bad (I 100% trust my friend on that), but because my body and my soul were having a hard time processing what I had put them through. I had never actually felt so clearly how my body was simply not made to process certain foods. I was both surprised and relieved to see how quickly my body started eliminating what I had forced on it as soon as we got back home. All I was longing for now was a fresh juice, a salad and fruit! I had never been as happy to dig into all that fresh and healthy food at “Punto Verde”, our go-to vegetarian restaurant here in Campeche. I didn’t have any other food for the rest of the day, feeling my body needed time and cleansing from that morning’s extravaganza.
By the evening, I was exhausted. I felt tired, spiritually and physically. Drained from all my energy. I was having a hard time putting one foot in front of the other. I literally fell into bed and into a deep coma, which I woke up from 9 hours later (I usually don’t sleep more than 7 hours).
As I am writing this post, I know my body has now fully eliminated all of yesterday’s remains. Still, I’m surprised by the lasting impact of this experience on my psyche. When our AirBnB host invited me for lunch with his friend at a place where they sell fried chicken, I felt my stomach turn and my heart stop. I’m definitely unable to smell or even imagine any more fried food, let alone meat of any kind!
I’m not sure where this will take me and whether I will go entirely vegetarian from now on, but here’s what I know for sure:
- From this day onward I will respect my body and listen to it, not forcing any unwanted food upon it which is unhealthy and/or cannot be processed with ease
- I will think back to what I witnessed at that market each and every time I see meat in a menu, thinking twice before ordering
- I will respect my values and my personal integrity, regardless of what other people expect of me – even if they are kindly offering a token of their friendship or a gift of any kind. There are ways to gently and respectfully refuse what is offered to you, when it just doesn’t feel right to accept
- All those innocent souls we kill and sacrifice for our personal, short-lived culinary pleasure will forever remain part of us, as they are incorporated and absorbed by our cells as we eat them. We nourish and fuel this collective consciousness according to which it is okay to arbitrarily take lives for our pleasure and comfort. It is up to each and every one of us to opt out of this seemingly “normal” way of life if we feel within our hearts this is not our individual path
I am in no way criticizing anyone for their behavior or actions here. As a matter of fact, I find it admirable how proud Mexicans are of their cuisine, how generously they take pride in sharing their traditions and, most of all, how they make use of ALL parts of the animals they kill (contrarily to what we do in Europe, where a large part is thrown away and wasted). At least here children grow up with a very acute awareness of how animals are killed and which parts of the animal are on their plate.
All I know is I did not grow up aware of all this. As a city girl, the most I was ever exposed to was the butcher’s counter in a supermarket. Where you can’t even make up what is what and which part belongs to which animal because everything is so neatly washed and packed. There is no slaughtering animals in front of you, no cutting them open to take out their organs, no dismembering them, no smells, no blood, no body fluids dripping on the floor… Only ready-to-go, clean-cut steaks finding their way into our grocery baskets.
I believe the purpose of our time on earth is to change (as humans) into who we are (as souls) and embody this as much as we can. I also personally believe we are not made to kill and eat other dead beings and that our work lies in going back to our essence (as children for example) and decide for ourselves how we want to live and the choices we want to make – regardless of the culture we were born into and raised to follow.
If we all acted in total alignment with our individual conscience, the world’s collective conscience would elevate itself. So make the right decision, just this once. Just today. Then repeat tomorrow. So with each day passing, we all work towards a brighter future – for ourselves and for our children. It goes way beyond whether to eat meat or not… 💁🏼💙