It has been 6 FULL YEARS since I’ve last eaten a piece of meat, and my 7th anniversary is coming up in just a few months. I could not be more happy with where I am in life now, and I would never go back to eating meat, as long as I have any choice in the matter (I hopefully always will, I don’t plan on being force fed). Now, I know the decision to be vegetarian or vegan is difficult for many people, but I’m here today to share my journey and hopefully help some people who are having trouble deciding whether they should give up meat.
First off, I don’t think you ever need to make a permanent decision about anything, especially before you’re ready to do so. Saying “I won’t eat meat” can be scary, and might make you feel trapped. I was a 10 year old when I made the decision, and so for me nothing was scary. If you are an adult who actually has to cook their own food, that might not be the case. While you read this, keep that fact in mind.
- The First Steps
In one of the classes I was in, we had to do a project on either a future career choice, or an issue in the world. Being 10, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, so I decided to research animal cruelty. I don’t know why. I had 2 dogs, but I wasn’t particularly affectionate towards them, nor could I be described as an animal person. But I did it. I found out about puppy mills, factory farms, tortured cows, caged chickens, branded and broken pigs (who are just as smart as dogs), and so much more that most little kids would never even think about. The next week, I stopped eating meat for good. I only looked back twice– I accidentally ate a bite of a rib at a summer party (then dropped it under the table because I felt guilty and wanted to hide the evidence), and at a family party where the pepperoni looked too good to pass up. The second time, I held strong.
2. Sticking with it
It was hard. Really hard. Sometimes, I would only have eggs for dinner because my parents made meat and I couldn’t eat it. (and yes I see the irony in that but I was little). At restaurants, I could only eat salads or pasta at many places. I was lucky enough to have supportive parents who made my job way easier than it could have been otherwise. I started reading books such as “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and watching all of those movies, and I was even more adamant to stick with my decision. When I was 12, my parents decided to go vegetarian as well, and not just that, vegan. I converted them. Life was great. In honor of their change, I also gave up fish, changing my pescetarian status to genuine veggie.
3. An Even Harder Change
Come my sophomore year of high school, I started learning about the health and environmental impacts of eating animal products as well. Now, I’m a convenience vegan because of my beliefs. What this means? At home I’m vegan because my parents are and that’s what they buy. I get to eat the most delicious meals in existence, mostly ethnic (which is so much more available to vegs) because my mom is a great cook, and we rarely eat the same meal twice, aside from a few staple pieces. I won’t eat eggs plain, because I do recognize the torture those female chickens are put through. I won’t drink milk plan because of the cows and the cancer. I try to keep to this as much as possible, and those two are a hard and fast rule. But I still sometimes eat cheese pizza, I never pass up a dessert, and at restaurants I’m sure that they use dairy products in much of what I eat. But I’m trying, and that’s what counts.
Today, my hard and fast vegetarian rule no longer feels like a rule, it’s just common sense. I never feel like I’m missing out on anything, and actually the smell of meat I associate with the smell of burning flesh. It has become easy to not eat meat because I’m not missing out at all. I have so many better, healthier options in front of me. When I consume dairy, I feel sluggish and gross, when I’m not, I feel 100x healthier. Meat, although it doesn’t disgust me as much as it should, doesn’t tempt me at all. And I’m happy.
I realize that not everyone will have such a supportive family, or the means for cooking on their own. But nowadays, there ARE options. And everyone has the responsibility to educate themselves. Do that, and the decision will be made for you.
Do you have any questions about my journey? Do you need advice on being vegetarian or vegan? Need support? Comment below, I’d love to talk and hear your stories!
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