The first week of May marks two years since I decided to change my diet from omnivore to vegetarian. Two years since I watched the Cowspiracy documentary and decided that I no longer wanted my diet to play a part in the destruction of our planet. Two years of learning how to maneuver through restaurants and parties for something plant-based. Two years of learning that sometimes there was nothing for me on the menu and that I would just have to wait to eat something when I got home. Two years of committing myself to something and never once going back on it.
I do not eat meat of any kind and YES this includes fish. I can’t tell you how many times people ask me “well what about fish?” when I tell them that I do not eat meat. Yes, of course there are some people who do not eat chicken, beef, pork, etc. but do continue to eat fish, especially when out at restaurants. I just hate fish. Always have. Plus, fish is not a victimless food. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, overfishing endangers ocean ecosystems and the billions of people who rely on seafood as a key source of protein. Without sustainable management, our fisheries face collapse – and we face a food crisis.
A lot of people like to claim that they eat meat because eating plant-based is just too expensive. This can be true, but really only if you are spending on imitation products such as Tofurkey. These are very expensive, but are also not that good for you. Besides, now that I don’t eat meat, I don’t miss it enough to spend my money on something meant to imitate the texture. Canned beans, rice, and frozen fruits/vegetables make up 95% of my diet and are accessible at every grocery store and are extremely inexpensive.
I am the only vegetarian in my family. I know a lot of people who cite this as as a reason it would be hard to go veggie, and yes it would be if your heart was not in it. Decide why you are doing it: to lessen your environmental impact (mine), for the welfare of animals (has now become mine as well now that I’m veggie) or maybe you need to make a health change. In the beginning you may be jealous about the chicken your parents and sister are eating and ask “well why can’t I have some too? What difference does it make?” It actually makes a big difference. For one thing, you are proving that the mission is important to you and what’s that saying again? “What difference can one person make? – Asks 7 billion people”.
Two years on, I plan to be vegetarian for the rest of my life. There are statistics out there that say something like 95% of vegetarians go back to eating meat at some point in their life. I do not plan on ever eating meat again and am thankful to live in a time when different diets can be more easily catered to (both at home and at restaurants) as I think that will help my goal a lot.
The benefits are vegetarianism are endless: good for the planet, good for your wallet, and good for your health. If you are interested in vegetarianism then I highly suggest the following documentaries: Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Vegeducated (PSA: none of these films contain disturbing or graphic images of animal slaughter so if that particularly affects you, watch with no fear!)