I was pleased to read your recent article about a pig butchering demonstration at a local high school (“Students get up-close farm-to-table lesson in Portland,” Jan. 21). The article itself was informative, but it was the butcher’s own journey that most caught my attention.

The butcher, Jaclyn Burskey, described having been vegetarian for years until she fell ill, after which she returned to eating meat. What I appreciated about this is that with the increasing focus on plant-based diets, we don’t often hear about the other side.

I know a number of people who tried being vegan or vegetarian and found that it simply didn’t work for them. They didn’t need much animal protein, but they needed some.

Unfortunately, when many people try a new way of eating, they don’t always pay attention to how their bodies respond. For some, going vegetarian or vegan may be fine. But for anyone trying this, I encourage you to pay close attention to how you feel. You may find that you need at least a small amount of meat, fish, and/or dairy. If you do, you could consider getting this only from sustainably and kindly raised animals.

This idea of being your own authority about eating is something that I teach both as a certified health coach and a facilitator for the “Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating” program. It’s something the butcher in the article did, and I hope that others follow her example to find the choices that best work for them.

Erica L. Bartlett