Why i chose to go VEg
Memorial Day has come and gone. With the closing of the month, it is officially time for summer fun. For the past few years, the end of May has kind of felt like a beginning for new adventures in my life. I’m beginning this summer by saying goodbye to a few close friends who have graduated or gone back home. At the end of May last year, I started three amazing internships that gave me a summer experience I never had before. The end of May also marks the two year anniversary since I decided to become meat-free. I’ve always mentioned that I am vegetarian, but I haven’t exactly said why or how I became vegetarian. When my friends ask why or how I became vegetarian, I give them a shortened, abridged version. I think it’s finally time to fully explain myself.
My journey to vegetarianism was actually quite a long one. It definitely wasn’t something I decided to do overnight. It’s something I had always been thinking about, even when I was too young to know what vegetarianism really was. As far as I could remember, eating some types of meat had always been uncomfortable for me. I remember seeing veins or bones in some of the meat I ate as a child and actually freaking out or getting upset during a meal. Needless to say, I’d hardly eat chicken on the bone or any meat that might have veins in it. Ground meat was easier for me to eat because it was easier to disassociate it with being from something that was actually alive at one point.
I stopped eating pork products during my early elementary school years. I’m not really sure why I did that. I used to love bologna back in pre-school because I saw my grandfather eat it all the time. Eventually, I stopped eating that and soon after stopped eating any pork products.
My cousin, Raelle, was the first one in my family to make the switch to a meat-free life when we were both in high school. I always loved the idea of going vegetarian, but I never thought I could do it myself. I’m Italian, and I loved meatballs – that was my excuse at the time.
I seriously started to think about becoming vegetarian when I got to college. I had started thinking a lot more about what I was putting on my plate and where it had been before it got there. I know some people will definitely see differently about my next opinion, but these animals that ended up on my plate all had lives. They were all living and breathing. They all had similar organs to me. They all were capable of having children and creating life. I thought back to the times I’d eat bones as a child. There must have been some reason why I was so uncomfortable eating meat. These are a few of the things that had always been in the back of my mind but had now made their way to my daily conscious thoughts.
I started becoming more self-sufficient when I went to college and started cooking my own meals more often. I started making my meals with less and less meat. I didn’t eat meat as much when I went out to eat anymore either. The whole process of this started at the beginning of my fall semester of freshmen year. The process was prolonged because a number of people who were important in my life didn’t agree with my decision to eat meat-free. There were times when I would eat meat “for” them, even though it bothered me.
By the end of my first year of college, I realized it hadn’t eaten meat in a while. By the end of May 2015, I realized I definitely didn’t want to eat meat again. I wasn’t missing anything by not eating meat. I felt better, physically, mentally and morally by not eating meat. By June 2015, I decided to give up meat and become pescetarian.
Pescetarianism is a diet similar to vegetarianism but includes fish and seafood. Again, I decided to do this because some people around me weren’t happy I wanted to give up animal protein completely. I tried being pescetarian for two months, but it didn’t feel right still. I also realized that I really didn’t like seafood or fish at all, so I was kind of forcing myself to eat it. By August, I had given up meat and fish completely and had become a full-vegetarian.
As I had kind of touched on before, there were a lot of struggles during my journey to vegetarianism. It was a long process, and not everyone was accepting of my decision. I think that was the hardest part. It’s hard to make a transition into a new diet or another part of your life if the people around you aren’t accepting of it. I honestly probably would have made the switch to vegetarianism a lot sooner in my life if more people were accepting of it.
Another struggle I came across on my journey to vegetarianism was eating out. This will always be a struggle. The area I live in is much more accepting of vegetarians than other areas in the country. There are still some food establishments I go to where I look at the menu and the only vegetarian option is a garden salad. As much as I love salad, sometimes I need something with a little more substance. Another thing that bothers me is when I ask for the meat to be left off of a dish somewhere, yet they still charge me the same price as if I were eating the meat.
Being able to successfully switch to vegetarianism definitely depends on how the person handles the transition. You can’t be lazy about it. You have to learn how to cook new foods that will give you the nutrients you are now missing from your diet, like some proteins. Pinterest was my bible during my switch. I learned so many new recipes and tried and liked a lot of new foods I hadn’t before. I also learned how to better navigate restaurant menus, so I can find something to eat almost anywhere. I had push past the challenging parts of transitioning into a vegetarian lifestyle and make it fit into my life.
How I feel Now
I am extremely happy with my decision to go veg. I honestly don’t think I would ever go back to eating meat or want to go back to eating meat. I took an animal bio class to fulfill a general education requirement this past semester, and it made me appreciate my decision to go vegetarian so much more. I watched dissections being done in that class. Seeing that the insides of animals made me realize how similar we are to them. It made me even more proud of my decision to become a vegetarian.
Even though I decided to become a vegetarian, I am still accepting of other diets. I understand and respect why others decide to eat meat and why they decide to not eat meat. Everyone has a different opinion on eating meat and animal products. I’m not the type of person to push my ideals on others. If you eat meat, that’s your decision. If you’re vegan, that’s your decision too. I want to be accepting of others’ diet decisions, since it was harder for me to get acceptance of mine.
So that’s the story, my dolls. You may have different opinions than me, and that’s okay. This is why I became a vegetarian. If you truly want to make a change in your life, don’t let others’ opinions influence your decision or hold you back.
If you need some vegetarian recipe ideas and tips, check out the “Food” section of Life of the Porcelain Doll.
Happy eating, my Dolls!
Looking for something to listen to this summer? Read “Current Playlist #2: Lust for Life.”