For the past year I have been practicing a vegetarian lifestyle, and I’ve learned a lot. You know the saying change your perspective, change your life? It definitely applies to going vegetarian for a year. Once I learned more about the meat industry, it changed my perspective and then changed my life. My goal was to remain meatless for a year, which I’ve done, but I have no plans to go back.
First, a little background: I decided to drop meat from my diet after doing a lot of research. I found out a lot of disturbing things about the industry and decided this was not something I could support. I set clear boundaries for myself- I would not eat red meat, white meat, or seafood including crab and lobster but excluding shellfish like scallops and clams. I know some would argue that by excluding shellfish I am not truly a vegetarian, but I still call myself one because a) shellfish don’t have faces and that’s a thing with me, and b) I don’t believe in eating anything I wouldn’t kill myself. Since harvesting shellfish is something I would do, and I know where they come from, I don’t exclude them from my diet.
Now, the things I have learned.
- Going out to eat really isn’t that bad.
There’s always something on the menu. In some places I’ve been severely limited, but there’s seriously always something. I mean, you can’t walk into a deli and expect there to be a ton of vegetarian options, so I’ve learned to keep that in mind too.
- When done right, it’s incredibly healthy.
Aside from the lingering effects of the accident I was in at the beginning of the year, my doctors say my health has never been better. I also dropped 10lbs without even trying, and have maintained a more consistent weight since. (I wear a size small now. I never thought that would happen)
But the flip side of that is when it’s not done right it’s incredibly unhealthy. You can’t live off meatless pizza and Cheetos. Going vegetarian means paying special attention to what nutrients you’re getting and learning to listen to your body’s signals if you’re not getting enough.
- Virtually anything can be made meat free and still taste delicious.
On Halloween I made my friends beef stew, but the beef was actually black bean based- the same stuff you make veggie burgers out of. It was delicious. Not to mention it’s always a proud moment when you impress a room of meat-eaters with a meat imitation recipe.
- Vegetarians are the friendliest people ever.
I’ve never met a vegetarian I didn’t like. They’re generally very passionate and committed to their lifestyle, and they’re always down to share recipes.
- People can be real jerks when they don’t understand you.
Though sadly I doubt this comes as any surprise. Over the past year, I’ve endured taunting, name calling, and some downright cruelty (there’s a special place in hell for people who tell a vegetarian something is meatless when it isn’t, then laugh as they eat it) and I truly believe it comes from some unwillingness to understand. I believe the world would be a better place for everyone if we talked about our differences rather than try to alienate each other over it… because trust me, calling an environmentalist a “dirty hippie” says more about you than it does about them.
- But overall people are supportive and kind.
Most people are curious about the choice and are kind in the way they go about conversing with you about it. A lot of people, upon finding out that I’m a vegetarian, have asked me why. I’ve found a lot of people are open to discussion about it.
- My husband is the best.
I mean, I already knew that, but it’s worth being said again. He has never once complained about this choice I’ve made, even though he hasn’t made the same one. Neither of us have any problem accommodating the other person, and neither of us feel ripped off or anything like that.
Would you ever go vegetarian? Is it something you’ve ever been curious about? Let me know in the comments!
3 thoughts on “7 Things I’ve Learned in One Year of Going Meat Free”
I’ve considered going meat-free, and I’m currently reading a detailed book about it. I totally agree with your statement “I don’t believe in eating anything I wouldn’t kill myself” and think it’s a powerful point everyone should consider… although I’ve yet to put it into practice myself.
The book I’m reading covers a lot of points and issues, for and against, and some against being vegetarian include the issue of chemical fertilizers, whereas the alternative is to use animal manure to fertilize crops – so in such a world animals are necessary and to not eat them would be a problem. The strongest point is that the average American (and probably Brit.) would do well to reduce the amount of meat they eat (rather than stop eating it all together) and source locally grown produce; this is the route I’m probably taking… but if I had to go and kill a cow/sheep for my next beef/lamb burger, or a pig for my next bacon sandwich, I couldn’t.
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That’s really interesting! What’s the book?
The book is Meat – A Benign Extravagance, by Simon Fairlie.