Life-style changes

Vegetarian diet has positive impact on environment, health

“OMG, you don’t eat meat?, “What do you even eat?” These are just two of the reactions I usually get when I tell someone I am vegetarian. 

No, I don’t eat meat. Yes, I still eat. 

Being a vegetarian does not mean I have limitations within the food I consume, it actually has opened my mind up to foods I would have never tried. 

Eight months ago, I would have never guessed that I would have started eating the now regular foods included in my diet.

Up until about a year ago, I was the person that ordered chicken tenders everywhere I went. I had no diversity in my food choices, and really only ate a handful of different meals. Then, I started seeing Tik-Toks about being vegetarian. 

I was captivated by the food that they were eating: bowls, salads, sandwiches, and pastas. It looked so much better than any meal I had ever eaten, even though there was an absence of meat. 

 I immediately decided to stop eating meat, and now I see why that was my first mistake. 

When I decided to just quit cold turkey, I realized that I hadn’t prepared myself with the knowledge I needed to have a successful meat-free lifestyle. 

I was vegetarian for about two months the first time I cut meat out. I found myself still eating the same things, meatless chicken and meatless hamburgers.

 I never took the time to really think about what I was eating. I was basically eating the same foods, just the vegetarian style. 

After two months, I decided to go back to eating meat. Those first two months really showed me that I didn’t know enough about being a vegetarian. I realized that I didn’t have a purpose for not eating meat. Was it for the environment, animals, or my health? I didn’t have an answer. 

I went through the holidays eating meat and not really caring about it. I was traveling and didn’t have the time to worry about what I was eating and why. 

After I got back from a trip, I read an article about the meat industry and the effect it has on the environment. That article gave me a reason to be vegetarian, which made it a lot easier for me to stay consistent with my meat-free diet. 

I slowly stopped eating meat, and within a month, I was completely vegetarian. It became something important to me instead of something I just wanted to try. 

After reading a few more articles about the impact the meat industry makes, I started to feel very strongly about not eating meat to protect the environment and its creatures. 

I learned how bad the process of getting the meat really is and how cruel some of the animals are treated. This not only gave me the encouragement I needed to pursue a meat-free lifestyle, but it also made me conscious about my other choices in regards to the environment.

When I decided to drop meat again, I did it the right way for me. I got into making different recipes. I started to broaden my food choices. Instead of eating the same thing every day, I made new recipes and tried different things. 

I used ingredients that I would normally have never used, such as tofu, chickpeas, and falafel. I even started to try new things at restaurants. 

My personal palette did not shrink with my choice to go meat-free, it actually broadened.

I believe that if things are done correctly, good can come out of almost anything. Vegetarianism changed my lifestyle, my overall health, the way I look at the world, and it helped me try new things. I now don’t feel tired or excessively full after meals. I have more energy throughout the day and even my mental health has improved since I stopped eating meat.

Finding the thing, or passion, that causes you to challenge yourself is key to living a fulfilling life. I am grateful I found my passion for the environment through being a vegetarian and encourage everyone to seek out what they are passionate about too.