You won’t regret becoming vegetarian

When we were younger, say in elementary school or even high school, some of us had the privilege of waking up to our breakfast on the table, our lunch in a bag and coming home to dinner on the stove. Now we’re starting university and all of that is about to change. Either in residence or off-campus, none of us have that parental security we’ve become so accustomed to over the years. So what do we do in the mornings, afternoons and nights when we find ourselves hungry? We stare at the fridge or pantry for what seems like forever until we settle for some pizza pockets. It’s a little different for me, though. When I look in the fridge to plan out my three meals, I search for vegetables, wheat and dairy. That option of hearty, savoury meat is no longer available to me. Yes, I am a vegetarian.

I haven’t had meat in what seems like forever, but in reality it’s only been about two and a half months. It might be easier if I secluded myself from the world of animals, but unfortunately my roommate is a carnivore — or he seems to be one. As an off-campus couple, we go grocery shopping together and fight about every little product that we see. Chicken strips or no chicken strips? Salami? Bacon? God. It’s not a problem to buy the food. What I have a problem with is the smell of chicken when it’s in the oven or seeing the greasy packaged salami going onto his sandwich when all I have on mine are vegetables. It’s a huge challenge for me, but it doesn’t come without its rewards.

Giving up meat has been one of the easiest decisions of my life — it’s carrying through with that decision that’s the challenging part. The reason why I chose to become a vegetarian is for the environment. My boyfriend, in environmental science, has become very passionate about the subject. My decision to be a vegetarian was triggered by my discovery through him of forests all over the world (especially in Brazil and tropical regions) being destroyed to create more ground for livestock.

I do believe that animals were meant to be eaten but people need to think about the extent we go to just to provide ourselves with steak or beef. According to 49 Reasons Why I am a Vegetarian, “…it takes 78 calories of fossil fuel to produce one calorie of beef protein; 35 calories for one calorie of pork; 22 calories for one calories of poultry; but just one calorie of fossil fuel for one calorie of soybeans.”

Those who consider becoming a vegetarian but don’t think they have it in them to do so (much like myself) should think about the following facts. There are many chemicals involved in the production of meat, such as preservatives, and the chemicals that are also fed to animals, such as intoxicants, colouring and tenderizers. So by choosing to eliminate beef, pork, etc. from your diet, you are also choosing to avoid potentially deadly toxins, chemicals and diseases.

When many people think of vegetarianism, most are brought to the conclusion that all we eat are veggies; most can only picture us eating a salad or a carrot. In fact, this is almost the exact opposite. Though vegetarians do have to include a lot of vegetables in our diets to make up for our lack of protein and iron, we also get to mix it up a little. Vegetarian Cuisine suggests that “as with any diet, the key to a healthy vegetarian or vegan diet is to eat a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes.” Therefore, being a vegetarian does not constrict our diet, it allows us to explore and experiment with all types of foods.

To those who have thought of becoming a vegetarian, or are still thinking about it, I would highly recommend actually carrying through with it. Consider everything you’ve just read and experiment with it. Choosing a vegetarian lifestyle is extremely rewarding and delicious – all of the new recipes I’ve been privileged to try out have been tremendous. Some meals I could do without but others are perfect. And though it may be difficult to turn away from meat — I know I’ve experienced this challenge — it’s even easier to give in to your cravings. But holding firm with your decision is something you get to be proud of. The next time you’re in the grocery store, trying to decide over a one pound package of ham for $11, consider that colourful section of the store and think about how much healthier — and cheaper — it would be to browse there.