Greetings everybody,
Have a nice month! Today is a big day for me.One year ago, i decided to be a vegetarian. I never thought I could give up meat, mostly because it is so delicious and was 'addicted' to it. But I started reducing my meat intake after learning about the impacts of factory farming, and eventually figured I'd try out being vegetarian.

It was pretty fantastic. And very visible. Before I had been a flexitarian, meaning I'd eat meat whenever I had no other choice. If you are thinking about giving up meat, lessening your meat intake, or if you just want to read more about the experience, here are what I learned from being vegetarian last year.

  • It was a lot easier than I expected

Initially I was worried about being a burden on my health and my friends, but people were more than happy to accommodate my diet if I gave them advance notice. My friends and family all had different opinions, mostly thinking I was crazy, but overall they supported my choices.

  • I saved a lot of money

I'd never thought about being vegetarian to save money. Plant proteins just turn out to be cheaper than animal proteins. Lentils, dried beans, garbanzo beans are all less expensive than the cheapest, lowest grade meat. Just check your local grocery store.

  • Vegetarian does not automatically equal healthy

You can still eat lots of cookies. Just the act of removing meat doesn't mean replacing it with plant protein, fruits, and vegetables. Knowing this, I used being vegetarian as part of an intentional overhaul in what I eat and consider “desirable” food.

Luckily, the process was helped by how great I felt.

  • Be ready for lots of questions

Most people and quite curious about someone not choosing to eat meat. Here are some of the questions I get all of the time, along with my responses.

Why?

Again, here is the link to last year’s blog on going vegetarian for a more in depth explanation, but the elevator pitch is simple.

Health – Eating more fruits and vegetables makes me feel physically and mentally better.
Sustainability – Factory Farming of animals does an unbelievable amount of damage to the environment, with more greenhouse emission than the entire transportation sector (planes, cars, trains, etc.) See this infographic for more details
Ethics – I can eat and be healthy without killing animals or causing them suffering.

How do you get protein?

My meals are a combination of vegetables (fresh tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, etc. etc. etc.) , protein packed beans, lentils and quinoa, spinach, lots of nuts, and other scrumptious ingredients. Veggies and hummus, carrots and peanut butter, and trail mix are go to/can’t miss/live for snacks.

Humans have been eating meat forever. Why stop now?

Just because something has been happening for a long time does not mean it should persist into perpetuity. We have to evaluate the positives and negatives of any tradition to assess if we want it to continue.

Do you feel weak?

While being vegetarian I trained six days a week in swimming, biking, and running, raced two triathlons, ran a half-marathon, and felt physically and mentally sharper than ever. So I feel great! In fact there have been a slew of vegetarian Olympians and great athletes.

People will always love meat, so why care?

I love meat too. But as I've discovered, meat eating habits can change. Americans eat 150 times more chicken then we did 80 years ago (Source: Eating Animals). 150 times! We could go in the opposite direction. Everyone could easily become a weekday vegetarian (only meat on the weekends, described in this video), or eat meat for one meal a day.

If we are going to kill animals and eat them, why not revere the practice, instead of making it another forgettable part of our day?

  • It's off limits to ask questions in return

Such as why do you eat meat? While it's not actually illegal, this question comes with some social stigma. And that's frustrating because a double standard is applied to conversations about meat. I get asked every question in the book, but asking back is stepping over the line and becoming an overly-righteous vegetarian. Mostly I just let people ask, and hope that my answers stir an interest in the topic.

My journey to learn more about what I eat, where it comes from, and how it is produced has transformed my life for the better.

I'm a more thoughtful, caring, and appreciate person now that I've taken the time to deeply explore my eating habits, and it's an adventure that's just beginning.

see yah.
-K

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